Screensnark Editorial-Shiny Happy People

After 9 days in the hospital, I’d felt amazing.  Very optimistic on life and here’s something I wrote that I felt didn’t really fit within the breadth of the rest of the stuff, partly because it’s way longer and more thought out than some of the goofy shit I wrote and partly because I think it’s good and didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle.  I wrote this one night from like 1-3am.  Enjoy.

Remember how I said I’ve had all these really positive and inspirational conversations that are just begging me and compelling me to be a better person and to be a better blogger as well?  One of the things that’s really been bothering me lately(I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.  Just been kinda girly.) is how few shows leave me feeling good at the end of it.  Parenthood is like the ONLY drama.  All the dramas I watch are like burning black smoke in my heart.

I don’t do monsters, zombies, fantasy dragon sex or whatever(I’m not looking forward to you guys making me watch Game Of Thrones at all, really).  But the other week, Cameron was really excited about an episode of Justified he watched, calling it possibly his favorite ever.  So I was like “I gotta see this shit” and yeah, it was pretty great, but two awesome characters came forward and were dead by the end of the episode, which left me feeling just shitty.  All of these dramas I watch make me feel bad.  Not because they ARE bad, but because the only good shows on tv are ones where people are horrible.  Whatever happened to “You wanna go where everybody knows your name?”  Today, Carla would have killed everyone and pinned it on Frasier.

If there were a balance, I could deal with it better.  When I cycle between like 14 dramas and 20 comedies and 5 or 6 of those shows end nicely, it leaves me depressed.  If I’m rocking through my DVR on a typical day and it’s Shameless, Archer, The Blacklist, Workaholics, True Detective, Family Guy, Justified, Girls and Scandal(and those are just shows that are on the air right now).  I’d have murderous urges after watching that many assholes and dirtbags all day long, even though I quite enjoy them.

I think that’s why I DVR talk shows and game shows, because I need breaks that are fun tests for my brain and I get to see people genuinely excited as all hell because they won a new bedroom set or a trip to Boston or they just get to spin the wheel or whatever.  There’s no negativity on the Price Is Right.  Even when the contestants lose, they’re still super happy.  They won some contestant’s row shit to make it up there, right?  Like a new camera or some purses or something.  It’s just 100% positive, and I need that, or Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon.  Sometimes I just want to watch a Jimmy goof around and have fun with superstars, maybe dick off during an animal or cooking segment to make me laugh for a minute.  These game show and talk show breaks are requisite, so that I don’t watch enough shows in a row that build fury in my heart.

And even the scripted shows that fill up my happy meter will still throw wrenches in the works, too.  Well, not the sitcoms, usually.  I can watch Parks and Rec, Bob’s Burgers, The Goldbergs or Raising Hope and I’ll be smiling 10 times out of 10.  But Parenthood, hoooooo boy, that show will straight up leave me weeping on a rough week.  Same with Friday Night Lights.  And do you know why?  Because the shows are so fucking well written and well cast and every character is generally good so that when something bad happens to them, even if it’s minimal, fucking crushes you.  Funny how that works.  You write a show where the characters are very kind and genuine and real, and SHOCKER, you actually start to care a great deal about them.  I told Cameron this and he said “well, that would be boring”(he hasn’t actually watched either of those shows, though), but I think he missed my point a little bit.  All I want is balance, or at least meet me at 70/30.

I just….Hi, my name is Joel and I love character studies and really solid family dramas.  I also like Mad Men.  I also like Shameless.  I also like Sons Of Anarchy.  But as much as I love a realistic crime or cop drama and those not realistic at all-shit, I’m excited as hell for the return of 24.  But I’m a TV guy and I’m very astute.  I’m not a dummy.  When I see things like giganto record shatter Walking Dead(which I even watch out of spiteful curiosity) ratings, I see the writing on the wall and it’s telling me that horror and monster shows are coming and they’re coming fucking hard.  And you guys will watch it.  Even if it’s bad, you’ll watch it.  At least enough for it to stay on the air and knock shows I like off the air.  And this is why I have contempt for those shows(on the networks, more specifically).  Have you seen the Raising Hope/Enlisted Friday night block?  It’s wonderful and heartwarming.   WHY IS DADS STILL AIRING BRAND NEW EPISODES IN FEBRUARY???!

Bottom line is I want more shows where the characters give you a reason to care about them.  You may think you care about the characters on The Walking Dead, but you don’t.  You just want to see how grisly their inevitable deaths will be. You guys don’t know what it’s like to root for the Bravermans.  Or Tim Riggins.  Or the Taylors.  Or anyone on FNL, really.  When you care about them as much as fans of the shows do, it kills you when they’re down in a very visceral way.  And that only makes their triumphs that much more fucking epic.  If you tell me that you watched Dexter seasons 1-8 and you gave a shit about what happened to any of those selfish idiots down the stretch, either you’re lying or you’re the exact kind of TV viewer that I am not.

It may be easy nerd humor, but I can tell you exactly why The Big Bang Theory is the number one comedy on TV by a mile.  Because Chuck Lorre’s audience isn’t really looking for much in a comedy and he’s brilliant at knowing his audience and when the writing was on the wall for his other smash hit(the one about purely unlikable misogynistic fuckheads), he created a new one.  One that was friendship based, full of people who are kind and thoughtful, except that this show’s Charlie Harper was an asshole only by default.  He doesn’t know any better, which arguably makes him one of the most likable redemption story characters on TV.  He yearns to learn how to relate to people better.  He thinks he’s the most amazing person on the Earth(Charlie Harper), but only because he’s socially oblivious, not because he’s a total asshole(Charlie Harper) and his best friend(Alan Harper), while sometimes dismissing his behavior because he’s exhausting, will often help him learn from his mistakes, therefore earning an ‘awww’ from the audience here and there(the absolute opposite of Alan Harper, who basically stole from his brother for years, encouraged his brother’s outrageous behavior until it killed him, hoping to cash in, only to lose his dipshit son, who he never seemed to give a shit about, to drugs and the army.  But hey, a brand new billionaire just bought the house and lets Alan not only live there rent free, but mooch cash and prizes off of him as if Lorre just changed Sheen to Kutcher on all future scripts).  So Lorre just created a much more appealing and pleasant Charlie and Alan and counted his money.

Friendship is magic, indeed, you damn ponies.


  • Rob

    “I think that’s why I DVR talk shows and game shows”

    Have you seen Hollywood Game Night? My wife DVRed a bunch of episodes and one night I begrudgingly started watching it with her and was surprised at how much fun it was. It’s a silly mish-mash of standard party games, but it’s fun to see drunk celebrities stumble their way through the categories. I honestly felt really happy watching that show. And the episode with Padma…holy cow she is the perfect woman (hot, hilarious and intelligent).

    • Joel

      I’ve seen it, yeah. It’s fun, but they keep moving it around and it tends to conflict with other shows.

      • Rob

        It’s on Thursdays at 9pm now (they shitcanned MJ Fox and Sean Hayes). That’s a three-hour block you can get behind! Well, maybe 2.5 hour block (I know you don’t like Community much).

  • Joe

    So…where can I get this version of Cheers? Because I don’t think Frasier has it in him. Paul? Him I can see being a mass murderer.

  • Jam

    Why does Dads exist?

  • noman

    A little Price is Right to cleanse the palate. Makes sense to me.