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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Must Scathe TV?

One of my favorite Back Room posters, the inimitable Czarobski, recently posted a comment Dave Eggers made to the Harvard Crimson on the psychology of hipster culture and its need to constantly tear down the very artists it props up and the prevalence of "sell out" and "their old stuff was a lot better" in the language.

This really got me thinking. I've been relatively displeased with a lot of the television shows I watch recently, and Eggers's words forced me to consider whether or not I was being fair to House and 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother, or whether I was reflexively dismissing change as for the worse and looking to be ahead of the curve in pointing out a show's downfall. This is the pitfall encapsulated by the phrase "jump the shark" and in it's recent ubiquity. It became a sort of game for us as viewers to try and spot the disaster around the corner, instead of enjoying the ride. In light of this I decided to try and critically re-evaluate my own thoughts on the shows that I watch.

How I Met Your Mother is clearly an example of me false-starting. The "Friends With Benefits" episode was a bit of a disappointment, yes. But I was too harsh in extrapolating that to the series in total. I reacted very badly to the change in Barney's character, but I think that if the writers are careful, and respect the viewer, this might come off well. This past Monday's episode was very well done, and surprisingly touching. It's nice to see a show which considers it possible for a married couple to live in relative harmony. On a related note, The Big Bang Theory continues to be awesome, and looks to be safe from my inner-hipster.

House, unfortunately doesn't fare quite as well. I am concerned about Kutner and Taub's lack of inter-connectedness. In the first few seasons it seemed as though every character had a relationship with all of the others. However, there really isn't even any byplay between Thirteen and the other two doctors. And they really are burying the lead when they hastily explain an incredibly nonsensical diagnosis. I'm really pulling for the show though, it has consistently produced gripping episodes. Marathons on the USA Network can really pull me in.

The Office and 30 Rock are interesting cases. The Office is picking up its game very nicely lately, tonight's episode being no exception. I think the key is keeping the stories more realistic and less extravagant. Tonight's Hillary Swank plotline was hysterical and also seemed very plausible. Tonight's 30 Rock was hilarious as well, and I was glad to see Frank and Two-Fer back in the mix. I think the absence of Salma Hayek was also a benefit.

In the future, I'm going to try to hold off on the predictions of doom based on one or two bad episodes. Even Seinfeld and Cheers had bad episodes, it's just a little harder when you're in the moment and looking forward to every episode at its first airing.

1 comment:

  1. " it's just a little harder when you're in the moment and looking forward to every episode at its first airing."

    I agree. Plus 30 Rock episodes age extremely well, like Arrested Development