Our society’s pretty messed up. Just take a look at our sick Anna Nicole thing and you can figure out that we’re not all there.
Most people don’t realize that a lot of our problem comes from the TV we watch, though, and sitcoms in particular have really screwed up our perceptions of how things work.
1. Laugh tracks. In order to really understand how terrible on our world a laugh track is, here’s a scene from Dharma & Greg with silence replacing the normal joyous laughs of the audience.
DHARMA: Greg, I enrolled us in a stitching class! (short silence)
GREG: A stitching class? You should have stitched your mouth shut! (more silence)
DHARMA: Oh, come on, it’ll be great, your parents are going to be there! (intense, bone-wrenching silence)
GREG: My parents?! Oh, this is just great! (agonizing silence that seems to preclude domestic violence)
DHARMA: I’m glad you finally see it–(pause while silence disappears)I’m glad you finally see it my way! (terrible, God fearing silence)
GREG: (hits Dharma)
2. Catchphrases. Sitcoms give us the idea that everyone should have a special line or two that they can roll out to fix any situation. The only consolation is that they don’t always work.
For a while, Full House was trying to give Uncle Jesse the catchphrase, “Lord have mercy,” then, “Looooord have mercy,” then just, “sweet mercy.” Then, the Olsen twins weren’t cute anymore and it got canceled. God bless aging.
3. Super-smart animals. When I was a kid, I thought that dogs were basically meant to accentuate punchlines and act as deus ex machina for lazy scriptwriters by dragging various items into the room. Boy, was I disappointed when I finally got a dog and all it did was throw up and bark late at night.
4. Replacement characters. When a character leaves a show, he’s often replaced by a near-perfect replica of his particular personality in order to put less stress on the show’s writers. Yet, these substitutes don’t have the same charisma. That’s why the end of That ’70’s Show sucks.
When any of my friends moved away while I was a kid, I always assumed we’d get another one pretty fast. I was confused when things didn’t turn out that way, but then I started hanging out with the kids who didn’t speak English. They pretty much replaced one another since I had no idea what the hell they were saying.
5. Ugly dudes with perfect women. This last one’s a big complaint of mine. Look, us ugly guys have enough trouble trying to get a girlfriend without being held to the unrealistic expectation that incredibly hot women end up with guys whose faces could make a train take a dirt road. Yeah, I’m talking to you, King of Queens.