Other Ten Percent 10/26/11

Oct 26 2011

The following is not going to be the new format of OTP, I’m not sure what the new format is going to be or if there’s going to be one. This more and more has the feeling of an experiment that’s winding down and the fact that nobody is really contradicting me when I say that all but confirms it for me. There was always the background dream that OTP would transform into some huge thing that everybody on Earth read but that goal was probably never realistic especially given that it was always a secondary goal.

I mostly started this as a way to chronicle things I wanted to keep track of while I got a graduate degree and to stay in contact with friends in New York. Both of those goals are now pretty much accomplished and done better on other platforms anyway. There’s also not a need any more for me to chronicle these links for you anymore, I mostly feel like you’ve all seen everything I’m showing you by now.

I’ve kind of got more interesting topics than I know what to do with and I think I (and by extension you guys) know where to get more information on those things when you want them. So instead I’m just going to explore some stuff for a while.

In today’s essay we’re going to do the opposite of OTP and talk about something that you all already know about and something that is also not very good: 2 Broke Girls.

I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity before in my life to correctly label something as “the most talked about show of the season.” That is mostly a PR code phrase for “a shitty show” and, to be fair, 2 Broke Girls is a shitty show. But man will people ever not shut up about it. And they won’t shut up about it despite not liking it very much. Actually that’s not entirely fair. That last link is to Todd VanDerWerff at the AV Club, probably my favorite TV critic at the moment, and while he’s an unabashed booster of the show he’s also totally upfront about its many MANY flaws. The show has issues with casual racism. It’s a fan of rape jokes where the punchline is “hey sometimes ladies get raped.” It seems to be confused about its plotting. It doesn’t know what to do with its secondary characters. It doesn’t know what to do with its leads. It doesn’t seem totally certain what its a show about actually. In fact, here is the complete list of 2 Broke Girls’ unequivocal virtues:

  • Kat Dennings exists and is trying really really hard.
And yet, MAN do people want to make this show happen. And I’m not even saying that in a judgmental way. One of the people really wanting to make this show happen is ME. I agree with Todd that there’s a good show mysteriously buried under here and I agree with this Think Progress piece about how 2 Broke Girls, as terrible as it is, is also the only show we have directly dealing with the economic crisis in a way that isn’t insultingly reductive. (Especially odd given that it seems like its a fan of being insultingly reductive of everything else.)
I don’t want to rehash the arguments about the show any further because I’m not sure I have much more to say that hasn’t been said better in the two stories I linked. My advice to you guys is to probably wait and hope that this show, like a lot of comedies in the past 10 years, gets its act together in the back half of season one. Instead I want to talk about how weird it is that the critical community cares so much.
We’re now on episode 5 of this show and of those five I would list 2 as mediocre and 3 as actively offensive. That is the track record of the recently canceled Playboy Club in terms of AV Club ratings. Yet instead of being eager to ditch this show EVERYBODY seems obsessed with saving it. I’m not so much interested in why we’re obsessed with saving this show (the answer is either Kat Dennings or “a desperate desire to see some reflection of our economic realities on prime time television” depending on the critic) I’m more interested in how weird it is as a cultural phenomenon that we want to redeem a show at all. Since when do we try to redeem bad shows? The answer to bad TV has always been to just wait for cancelation and then revel in it. I’m already 800 words into a long rant with no links so this is a point I’ll explore in more depth later but my general question here is this: What is it about our current cultural position that makes us desperate to try and retrofit what culture we have into a workable whole?
Next on the dockett for this general theme: the new Justice album.

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