Many of you already know this: I cannot stand sitcoms. I hate the stupid dialog, the obvious punch line, the pregnant pause, and the exaggerated reaction of a fake crowd to let the viewing audience at home know it’s time to laugh; this is funny, we swear! If it was funny, we wouldn’t have to be cued into it.
My parents never watched sitcoms. I can remember ‘Law & Order,’ ‘NYPD Blue,’ ‘Homicide: Life on the Street,’ but never a single half hour of cartoonish human beings exclaiming each other’s names at one another in disgust, despair or resignation. When I was old enough to start following my own shows it was never the popular Friday night block of programming – I watched ‘SeaQuest,’ which was pretty much an underwater Star Trek with an obnoxious know-it-all dolphin, and ‘Due South,’ in which a Canadian Mountie politely solved crimes in Chicago with an Italian stereotype.
Neither of these shows told me when to laugh.
I have never seen an episode of ‘Friends.’ I seriously dislike ‘Seinfeld.’ I can’t even watch that much of ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ even though it has giant goofy Jason Segel being giant and goofy, and Whedonites Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris.
What this is leading up to is my unbridled fury against ‘Two and a Half Men,’ apparently “television’s top-rated comedy.” I can’t take it any more. I know people who watch and enjoy it, and that’s fine for them – I unironically love ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ which is certainly quite outside the circles of some people’s television Venn diagrams. I cannot stand ‘Two and a Half Men.’ I hate it. I hate the stupid theme song; I hate Charlie Sheen’s womanizing bowling shirt smarm; I hate that squinty guy; I hate the insipid dialog, the limp puns, and the fact that so. Many. People. Like it.
I’ve never seen an entire episode but if I were to guess I would say a standard goes like this: “I have sex with many women! You have sex with no women! We both have sex with horrible women! Dick joke! Big Misunderstanding! Laugh track!” And I wouldn’t be surprised if I were too far off, given this article in the Hollywood Reporter. Let me share my favorite part, including quotes from the show co-creator:
Besides, Aronsohn isn’t a fan of the current crop of female-centered comedies such as Whitney and 2Broke Girls.
“Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods,” he said.
Aronsohn applauded women like Whitney Cummings, Chelsea Handler and Tina Fey securing a voice to discuss formerly taboo subjects on TV.
“But we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation,” he said.
The current boom in female-centric TV contrasts with Two and a Half Men mostly portraying women as bimbos, something Aronsohn isn’t about to apologize for.
I picked this up in the newswire at The A.V. Club, my favorite pop culture site, and I was *certain* the period and labia comments were O’Nealisms, or satirical inventions of the main newswire writer. Nope. Real words. From a real guy. Who sounds like he really has some issues with women. And you’re watching his show.
Let me flip around some words. “Enough, gentlemen. We get it. You have penises.” Because as far as I can see, this is the underlying joke of almost every male-centered comedy. “Exposition exposition exposition dick joke! Ooooohhhhhhhh! Shrewish and inexplicably hot wife yells things!”
I’m having trouble even formulating an intelligent piece about this without getting up every few minutes to stomp around the house. I’m aghast this man dares to suggest there are too many female-centered comedies on television, and there needs to be more bimbos. Has he even been paying attention to women characters throughout the history of television? Maybe these shows aren’t perfect, but by God there are women on TV who aren’t hot wives, shrewish wives, mothers or love interests.
I haven’t seen a single episode of ‘2 Broke Girls’ or ‘Whitney,’ so I can’t judge them. They probably have laugh tracks. Instead I’m going to talk about why I love Liz Lemon, at least the character as defined by the first two seasons of ’30 Rock,’ which is all I have actually gotten around to watching.
Liz Lemon feels real. She worries about choking to death alone in her apartment. She tells herself all the little lies woman tell themselves, like eating yogurt on the treadmill programmed on the slowest setting. She dresses in comfortable schlubby clothes, has an intellectual and creative career, and possesses real appetites: The first time I heard “I’m gonna go talk to some food about this” I almost lost it, first from laughing, and secondly because it succinctly summed up my own unhealthy relationship with food. (I am talking to all sorts of Easter candy about this article at this very moment.) I also loved the wedding dress episode, because while I don’t have a $4,000 ham napkin, I do have at least two dresses with tags on in my closet, purchased on a panicked whim because they were on sale and I might need them and I really am a girl who wears girl clothes, really.
There aren’t enough Liz Lemons on television, particularly in comedy. And I promise that guy from 2+1/2M, whose name I can’t be bothered to scroll up, copy, and paste, that for every supposed labia-laden female-centered comedy show, women have heard dick jokes, proctologist jokes, ‘gay panic’ jokes and male-centered sex jokes ad nauseam.
I can’t believe I even have to defend this: We’re finally getting more women characters on television, talking to other female characters about things that aren’t male characters, and someone has the audacity to say, “You know what? There aren’t enough white middle-aged upper-middle class jerks on TV.”
Stop watching ‘Two and a Half Men.’ Just stop it. Turn on ‘Community’ (six seasons and a movie!), turn on the Discovery Channel, crack a book, start a conversation with your family. Stop supporting this mainstream misogyny that for ten years has insulted your intelligence by telling you when to laugh. Because it isn’t funny.