Tag Archives: television

I hate America’s favorite show

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.

Excuse me?

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.



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Sam Elliot’s Mustache Had Better Have Saved Christmas

It's just awful.

I just watched the trailer for ‘Christmas Shoes.’ I, uh …. Well, I regret it.

I don’t really plan these out.  I have ideas in a TextEdit document and three different notebooks with bits scribbled into them.  (I don’t have any of those notebooks with me tonight.)  I start off with a general topic and before I know it I’ve careened off into some sort of red-hazed hate-spewing rage about Kids These Days and What’s Wrong With the World.  Not all of this is my fault – I blame awful Christmas television and Delilah.

I’ve hated the Christmas Shoes song for as long as it’s been on the radio.  My Holiday Mirth Meter was pegged years ago when I worked at the Evil Liquor Warehouse and the dial was permanently positioned on Lite 105.  I worked nights.  Do you know what that meant?  It meant that, after three hours of enduring maudlin or saccharine or infantile Christmas novelty songs and forgettable shrieking starlet ballads … it all started over again with the John Tesh show at 8pm.  I nearly burst a blood vessel the night I heard “Christmas Shoes” around 7:56pm on Lite 105 … and then it immediately played again at 8pm on the nationally-syndicated John Tesh Show.

Why do I hate this song so much?  It’s completely artificial.  It’s like Nicholas Sparks books – it was written solely with the intention of making you feel bad.  Also there are lite rock chimes.  And singing children.  And a sappy child soloist.  And it’s – just – so – bad – !  I’ve ground my teeth into powder just thinking about it.

Anyway, Christmas songs are another hate-filled diatribe.  Right now I’m spewing forth white-hot rage at Christmas television.  If I’m friends with you then there’s a good chance we all watched the same specials at Christmas.  The essentials, as far as I was concerned, were Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Rudolph, Garfield, and the Muppet Family Christmas.  Frosty was never a favorite, although it bears the distinction of featuring a villain who actually murders the protagonist, and the less that’s said about the ill-conceived sequel the better.  There was another special about poorly-drawn humans and mice and a clock, but obviously it didn’t stick.

I just rewatched the first part of Mickey’s Christmas Carol for the first time in over a decade tonight, and it’s absolutely beautiful, from the opening title cards to the detail given to the bleak London setting.  You know what kids get now?  Kung Fu Panda and some winter festival nonsense.  TWO Shrek holiday specials.  And worst of the worst – live action Jim Carrey Grinch.  Criminal.  (And does anyone else think the Polar Express movie is kind of creepy?  No?  Also I don’t remember that much drama and death-defying peril in the gorgeous story book.  Listen, friends, if it won’t film well as an original, maybe don’t film it … ?)

Granted, not everything produced in the halcyon days of our youth was great, either:  Last year Georgia and I subjected ourselves to “Christmas Comes to Pac-Land” and the He-Man (I cannot get over how weird that is to type) Christmas special.  We watched the latter to the end, myself more mystified than anything as I had zero exposure to He-Man as a child and thus no nostalgia.  But Skeletor got a puppy, and I was reasonably sure that was out of character.

We lasted about four minutes into the PacMan special before Georgia summed up what I was also thinking:  “I just can’t do it.”

A trouble with Christmas specials is the pressure to create one, put it out and sell advertising as quickly as possible, leading to all these already-merchandised holiday spinoffs.  Even my favorite shows have produced some pretty disappointing Christmas installments, like the poorly-animated Venture Brothers extra and the deeply unsatisfactory Metalocalypse episode.  I can almost see why people immediately jump all over existing source material, throwing scarves on their pre-existing characters and quickly painting (or computer generating) some wintery trappings into the backgrounds of familiar backdrops.

This is not to say the original material fares any better.  The title of this post comes from the trailer to something called “November Christmas.”  I happened to catch it the other night and was aaaaaaaaalmost drawn in by two factors: There was a border collie, and there was Sam Elliot, being all mustachey and noble and wise.  However there was also a sick child and an unrealistic hayride Christmas tree farm, and also dad had the remote.

I’m sure he saved me from pain.

Look:  Not one tree farm actually looks like that.  Not one family is that goddamned shiny-smile and happy.  Someone has always lost a mitten or has gotten stabbed with hay or is stabbing his brother with hay or is coooooold and wants to go hooooooooome.  No one laughs that much or with their eyes and mouths open that wide – you can see the strain of pushing jolly all over the actors’ faces and frankly I don’t buy it.

Oh lord, I just checked the abcfamily site out of morbid curiosity and discovered something called “Christmas Cupid” will be airing.  From the copy, “With just days away from Christmas, Caitlin takes Sloane on a journey to meet the ghosts of her ex-boyfriends from the past, present and future to try and guide her to true love.”  So … we’re doing “A Christmas Carol” again.  And poorly.  When can we stop rehashing this story, and “It’s a Wonderful Life?”  At mom’s the other night I caught the tail-end of some Lea Thompson Christmas movie (does that woman age? Serious question.)  The acting was so bad I couldn’t believe it ever made it to television, and I just had to look it up to better mock it.  The description?  “A stressed out lawyer and mother of three gets her yuletide wish to see what her life would be like if she had chosen to pursue her career in law rather than marrying and becoming a working mother.”

Stop it.  Just stop it!  What can any modernized pop culture take on either classic tale do better than Bill Murray or the Muppets?  (I’ve actually never seen “Scrooged,” but hey, Bill Murray.  The Muppet Christmas Carol is the only post-Jim Muppets I like and the only Christmas movie I own because ALL RIGH ALL RIGHT I AM A SCROOGE).

This is pretty long and I haven’t even gotten into “Santa Buddies” or “The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation” (Jack finds personifying animals embarrassing) or HEY ABCFAMILY IS RUNNING MICKEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL ON TUESDAY NIGHT!  It only half-counts if the three shorts that ran with it originally are shown.

Anyway.  Tomorrow I am going to talk about Christmas specials I actually like, including my personal mother-of-all Christmas specials sadly butchered by copyright conflicts.

 Stay tuned.

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