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I Watched the Series Premiere of ‘Girls’ and All I Got Was This Headache

All right, critics, here’s the deal. If you’re going to expend months and countless thousands of words talking about how good, smart, and important a show is; it actually has to be good. As a corollary to that rule I’ll add this: if you’re going to call something a comedy it actually has to be funny, and you don’t get off that hook by calling it a dark comedy. Let’s start with the second point. There’s been a rash of pay cable channels creating relatively undramatic dramas and then calling them comedies despite the fact that they contain no jokes. Perhaps the best example of this is Showtime’s Nurse Jackie which is somehow still running despite having no obvious appeal. In this vein, HBO’s new “comedy” Girls is not funny. I watched the premiere, twice, just to make sure, and I didn’t laugh once. As for how this ties into the first point, Girls is also not a good show.

How bad is it? It made me want to vote for Mitt Romney, because if this is the way my generation actually thinks then we might as well let our parents just burn this entire fucker down before we finally grow up. Of course, the characters (and even the cast) of Girls are hardly representative of everyone in their 20s. In fact, based on my own experience with being 24 years old, I have no idea where these people exist. As a point of reference, of my friends, the people I grew up with, met in college, and in the ensuing years, I’m probably one of the more shiftless individuals. In fact, I can find more than a few parallels between myself and Lena Dunham’s character on the show (I’m not making the effort to imdb this one so deal). I, like Dunham’s character, happen to be 24, with a very limited income. I’ve spent the last six months working on a novel, that objectively, kinda sucks. Unlike Dunham’s character, I wouldn’t be so pretentious as to attempt a memoir at 24, but potato, potahto amirite? Also, like Dunham’s character, I rely on my parents for financial assistance (though not to the same degree) and I have quite a few friends who do the same. The real difference between people like me, however, and people like the characters in Girls is that we don’t like the fact that we have to ask our parents for the occasional buck. In fact, it’s kind of a constant point of shame. I don’t think that I know anyone who’s quite as sociopathic as Dunham’s twat of an actor/woodworker (*double wanking motion*) boyfriend, who actually hits up his grandmother for money.

There would be nothing wrong if those two were the only characters on the show to hate. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single likable character in the entire cast. Not even Dunham’s parents, who are apparently smart enough to be professors, but not smart enough to realize that starting a blog is not the route to riches (trust me). I won’t go into the details of each character, because I’m lazy, but I will point you to this recap from Gawker, which sums things up pretty nicely. These people aren’t broad, idiotic stereotypes like the ones on 2 Broke Girls, but their navel-gazing angst, ennui, and senses of entitlement make them just as offensive.

Of course, a show can still be good if the characters are loathsome individuals. In fact, there’s a show that ran right before Girls which makes that fact abundantly clear. Eastbound and Down‘s Kenny Powers is probably a worse person than Lena Dunham’s character on Girls. He’s an unrepentantly racist, drug addled, man child wholly unconcerned with anyone but himself. Here’s the thing, you can make light of Kenny, or even root for him to pull his shit together because the show is funny, like a comedy should be. The only thing I’m rooting for Lena Dunham’s character to do at this point is get a job at McDonalds or something, I don’t care, writing is hard, I’ve gotta go call my mom and get some money. I think she has some left in her IRA.

Attention Whores Use Attention Whores to Attention Whore

I generally wake up on Monday and trawl in the intertoobz for silly stories which I can use to knock out a quick post to start the week. Make of that what you will, I find it’s helpful to pick some low hanging fruit to build a bit of momentum. It’s not like anyone reads this blog anyway. In any case, this morning I happened to find the lowest hanging of fruits: politicians complaining about TV. The Inception-esque quality of the attention whoring in this story is delicious:

The West Hollywood City Council wants Bravo’s reality series Shahs Of Sunset to change its ways and stop “perpetuating negative stereotypes about Iranian-Americans.” The pols used their jurisdiction to slam the Ryan Seacrest-produced series about Iranian-Americans living in Beverly Hills (think a milder, West Coast version of MTV”s Jersey Shore, with more money).

Attention whores attention whoring by complaining about other attention whores? BRAHM.

Side note, I think Deadline nailed it with their description of Shahs of Sunset. I can almost imagine the pitch meeting at Bravo:

“Hey, you know how the Jersey Shore is a big hit and all?”

“Yeah, but we can’t put a bunch of Italians in a beach house, it would be too transparent. Besides we’ve already got The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

“No problem, I’ve got the perfect solution: Persians. They’re swarthy and they like graphic tees, hair gel, and clubbing.”

“Genius! Bring on the hookers and coke!”

Old Lame People Will be Delighted

I try not to do a lot of politics, but I figure one thing that we can all agree on is that Mitt Romney is super lame. I don’t really care whether you agree with him on the issues or plan to vote for him, he’s lame. You know who won’t mind? Jay Leno’s viewers:

According to NBC, this is Mitt Romney‘s first sit-down appearance on late-night TV since entering the 2012 presidential contest. Not since December 1st, 2010, has Romney been a guest on The Tonight Show — maybe because Jay Leno makes the GOP presidential primary frontrunner a regular target.

Romney voters and Leno viewers may be the most perfect overlap I can think of since they’re both almost exclusively geriatric and comedy impaired. Enjoy!

Are You There Whiskey?

Oh, hi there….

I know we haven’t hung out in a while… I’ve been chilling with beer a lot these days… resolutions and all… you get it….

Anyway, I was minding my own business, watching some TV the other day when I unsuspectingly happened upon an episode of NBC’s new comedy Are You There, Chelsea? and, well, seeing you just seemed so appropriate. You see, Are You There, Chelsea? is the reason why we can’t have Community for a few months, and to put this lightly, it sucks huge, hairy, monkey nuts.

The show is based on Chelsea Handler’s book, Are You There Vodka? and stars Laura Prepon (Donna from That 70’s Show) as Chelsea, as well as Handler as her sister (I don’t get it either). There was also a little person, some generic looking dude, a weird chick (derp),  a 4 foot tall Asian chick (hurr durr sassy ethnic person), and Lenny Clarke, because that’s what years of drug abuse do to your brain.

Are You There Chelsea? is derivative, plays on broad stereotypes (ethnic people are funny, whoa that girl drinks, how outrageous), and isn’t even remotely funny. Basically, it’s everything that we’ve come to expect from CBS, transplanted to another network. But, that’s not why I thought of you Whiskey, old friend. At one point Chelsea (Prepon) actually prayed to Vodka, seriously.

Now, don’t get a big head thinking I’m going to start praying to you buddy. The truth is, when I saw that and realized that someone who makes a lot of money decided that it was worth putting on television, it dawned on me that the Mayans were  totally right. The world is going to end in 2012 and I wanted to spend as many of my remaining days as possible doing the things I love. Thanks for listening…

P.S. I totally get how irony works…

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Hey, remember when I used to write about stuff that wasn’t football related? That was nice… anyways, if you have a life you may not have noticed that CBS recently gave America’s Least Talented Comedian Rob Schneider his own show, Rob! which co-stars Cheech Marin and is about how Rob! deals with his Mexican-American in-laws. Like all of CBS’s comedies (except How I Met Your Mother) Rob! is stupid, unfunny, and paints in broad, offensive ethnic stereotypes. Also, like all of CBS’s comedies, Rob!‘s debut was incredibly successful, because people are the worst. I’ll turn you towards the fine work of the people at Warming Glow for a full analysis, but here’s the money shot:

First off, if you haven’t heard yet, last week’s debut of the Rob Schneider show, “Rob” — also known as televised prostate cancer — received stunningly great ratings, as 13.5 million of “Big Bang Theory’s” 15 million viewers stuck around to watch Rob make fun of Hispanics while a woman with large breasts spoke in an accent. That actually doesn’t speak very well of the “Big Bang” audience, either. If you’re one of the 1.5 million “Big Bang” viewers that changed the channel, you might want to take a moment and dissociate yourself from the rest of your fake nerd brethren (real nerds watch “Community,” bitches)

Agreed, wholeheartedly. Believe it or not, that’s not the worst ratings news of all…

 Fox’s “Napoleon Dynamite” fetched 9.5 million viewers and a whopping 4.6 million viewers among the 18-49 demo (that’s how many viewers the most watched comedy on TV, “Two and a Half Men” received in that demo last night).

Must not start screaming at people on the street, must not start screaming at people on the street, must not start screaming at people on the street…

Napoleon Dynamite is the worst idea for a TV show since….EVER. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS AMERICA! Everyone I have talked to realizes that Napoleon Dynamite is a terrible TV show idea, yet it somehow got 9.5 million viewers. I’m starting to wonder if I exist in some kind of parallel universe or if this sh*t isn’t all just made up as part of some Michelle Obama conspiracy to get us all healthy by making TV unwatchable (if so, Kudos First Lady).

‘Not Deadwood’ Renewed for Second Season

HBO’s tragically short-lived western series Deadwood, which was killed after its third season because of a financial dispute between HBO and Paramount, has long been one of my favorite TV shows of all time. That’s why I was totally pumped when AMC debuted Hell on Wheels another Western that promised all the violent glory that Deadwood made so fun. However, as usual, I found myself sorely disappointed by the new show, mostly because it’s boring as sh*t. But hey, second season wooohooo!

I’ve learned that AMC has renewed its newest series, period Western Hell On Wheels, for a second season.

-snip-

Hell On Wheels has slipped since but consistently delivers more than 2 million viewers in first-run broadcasts, most recently 2.3 million last week. The series has aired 7 episodes of its freshman series to date, with Episode 8 slated for Jan. 1. Hell On Wheels is set in post-Civil War America circa 1865 and centers on a Confederate soldier (Anson Mount) who sets out to exact revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his wife.

Fun fact that’s been on the internet for a while: Anson Mount starred alongside Britney Spears in 2002 Fartbortion Crossroads, which is like an automatic -20pts for Hell on Wheels.

Since I’m feeling nostalgic, here’s a late Christmas present, the best of Al Swearingen:

Annoying God Botherers Protest Howard Stern’s Appointment to the Prestigious Position of “America’s Got Talent” Judge

America’s Got Talent is the 9000th most watched talent competition on TV today, but that hasn’t stopped professional morality scolds the Parents Television Council from protesting the addition of Howard Stern to the show’s panel of judges, which is currently comprised of Piers Morgan, Sharon Osborne, and Howie Mandel, winning! (Shut up, I’m bringing it back) Never mind the fact that Stern, despite his lewdness, has lead a fairly clean personal life, and that the man he’s replacing, Morgan, is the most egregious type of establishment hack (Alex Pareene does a better takedown than I could  imagine); Howard said some naughty things on a radio show meant for adults and thus he must never be allowed near a show that children might watch. For his part, Stern has done a good job defending himself:

Stern in the past brought up the fact that original judge David Hasselhoff had bouts with the bottle — remember that widely circulated cheeseburger video –and nobody raised an eyebrow when he judged talent on the show. Off the air, Stern has led a squeaky clean life.

Word. I’m not a huge Howard Stern fan — I prefer to look at boobies rather than hear about them on the radio — but the man is an excellent broadcaster and honestly you could replace Piers Morgan with Fran Drescher (if you don’t remember, look it up) and it would be an upgrade. Honestly, if your weenie kid watches America’s Got Talent, you’ve got bigger problems than the possibility of said dork hearing Howard Stern say a naughty word.

‘House of Payne’ Writers Get Raise… Which One is ‘House of Payne’ Again?

Drawing Hitler mustaches on people is a lost art in the world of parody.

I guess I’m really in no place to judge the black community’s apparent willingness to give Tyler Perry all of their money considering that I spend what little I have on booze and mail-order freeze-dried steaks, but it is nice to see that he’s giving at least some of it back. The seven writers for Perry’s TBS sitcom House of Payne will be getting a little holiday raise:

The new contract, a side letter to the Minimum Basic Agreement covering the major studios and networks, increases weekly minimum weekly salaries by 15% and the minimum payments writers receive for scripts by 20%. Because residuals are based on script minimums, residuals payments will also increase 20%. The new minimums increase by the MBA formula (2%) in May 2012 and May 2013, as well. The new agreement was reached under circumstances far less dramatic than those preceding the first deal between Perry and WGA in 2008, which followed more than five months of negotiations and protests by some writers who claimed that they were terminated by Perry over their unionization efforts. The writers’ actions included picketing the opening ceremony of Perry’s studio facility in Atlanta.

People picketed Tyler Perry’s studio and it wasn’t because he’s a disingenuous huckster profiteering off stereotypes about his community who also has creepy eyes? Ooooo Lerdy! (I know, I’m sorry, I just had to).

You know who’s to blame for Tyler Perry’s existence? The networks. This is what happens when you basically ignore 20% of the population with your programming. They get so desperate to see someone like themselves on the teevee that they’ll watch just about anything.

Crappy Comedy Hanging on By a Thread Gets Order Cut

You’d be forgiven for not knowing anything about Rules of Engagement, after all it’s just about the least interesting sitcom on CBS (which says a lot). Still, the show has remarkably staved off cancellation for six seasons. I will take this moment to remind you that Arrested Development only got three seasons before being canceled (this is why we can’t have nice things). Now it appears that this season’s order or Rules will be cut to make room for a new Rob Schneider comedy, which is a lot like treating gonorrhea by giving yourself syphilis.

With rookie 2 Broke Girls performing as well as it does along with all CBS returning comedies, the network needs an opening to launch its midseason comedy starring Rob Schneider, so a shorter, 15-episode run of Rules will provide a slot for the newbie.

*projectile vomits all over the room* God, I hate you CBS. Oh and by the way, in case you were hoping this was just a one-for-one trade-off in awful, it’s not.

As for next season, given Rules‘ solid performance, the veteran has a good shot to return, especially if the Schneider series underperforms and/or CBS expands its comedy offerings to eight in two-hour comedy blocks on Mondays and Thursdays.

Rules of Engagement is like herpes (I realize I already compared it to a different STD, but just bear with me okay?) you forget it exists for months, sometimes years at a time, and then it resurfaces and your genitals burn for a couple weeks. With anger.

‘2 Broke Girls’ and the State of the American Sitcom

More so than any other type of television program, the sitcom is a largely American format. Sure, the British have made inroads into the format, but no other country makes even close to the number of sitcoms that American networks produce. And after a long dormant period dating approximately to the series finale of Friends, the American sitcom is back. Or so the entertainment media would have us all believe.

Objectively, it’s hard to argue that sitcoms aren’t more popular now than they have been at any time since the early aughts. That’s largely because they’re ubiquitous on network schedules. I’m pretty sure that NBC doesn’t even have a single hour-long drama in primetime (and no I’m not going to check). No, the problem isn’t that Americans aren’t watching sitcoms, it’s the sitcoms that they are watching.

There are a handful of good half-hour live-action comedies on television these days. I would list them in order as: Parks and Recreation, Community, Happy Endings,  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, and How I Met Your Mother (the jury is still out on Up All Night). Of these, two are on cable (Sunny and The League), two are largely ignored (Community and Happy Endings) and two do well enough. What all these shows have in common is witty writing, both plot and story, and an ability to challenge audiences. That’s their biggest problem.

The show most often cited when talking about a sitcom ‘comeback’ is CBS’ 2 Broke Girls. The only problem is, 2 Broke Girls sucks monkey balls. Despite the likability of it’s principles: Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, Girls is entirely devoid of wit, intelligence, and laughs. It paints in wide, ethnic and social stereotypes that would be offensive if they weren’t so poorly envisioned. 2 Broke Girls is essentially Two and a Half Men with Kat Dennings’ rack replacing Charlie Sheen in a bowling shirt naked Ashton Kutcher.

What makes it doubly sad, is that 2 Broke Girls has the potential to be a great show. The country is going through a period of economic stagnation, in cities everywhere there are plenty of broke girls, trying to make ends meet and follow their dreams. Instead, it comes out looking like how the tea party people with the rascal scooters and funny hats must envision Brooklyn. I certainly don’t believe that every TV show has to make a social statement and I enjoy fart jokes more than the average viewer, however if you set your sitcom up in the perfect situation to say something meaningful, you’re doing us all a disservice by not doing so.

The truth is, I can’t really fault the writers of 2 Broke Girls for their laziness or ignorance, whichever it is, Girls is just a symptom of what’s wrong with American TV today. No one wants to watch something that makes them think, it’s much easier to look at your screen and go, “Hurr Durr that fat little Asian sure has a funny accent.” It’s this same mentality that’s made Chuck Lorre and Jay Leno obscenely rich. It’s the same reason why while Community continues to challenge viewers every Thursday night while remaining hilarious, infinitely more people watch The Big Bang Theory make the same Star Trek joke over and over. 2 Broke Girls isn’t the vaccine that saves sitcoms, it’s just a mutated strain of what’s been ailing them all these years, one with bigger boobs.

Excuse me while I go drink a liter of Listerine.