Sunday, July 28, 2013

Not So Funny

About a week ago, my sister, a few friends, and I went to see The Great Gatsby at the local $2 theater. While I enjoyed the lavish, artistic and thematic elements of the film, I had the same problem with the characters that I did while reading the book - I hate all of them. Though I know this is somewhat the point of the tale, I couldn't enjoy the rest of the movie because of it.

But Fitzgerald's famous tale is not the only one with which I've had this problem.

Lately, I've found it incredibly hard to get into any comedy shows. In the past few years, American sitcoms in particular seem to have shifted their base of humour from jokes in dialogue to awkward/uncomfortable interactions between eccentric characters. One such show is The Office. I used to love The Office. I watched the first four seasons within a few weeks. But I eventually stopped enjoying it because I noticed that in order for the show to keep going, the characters had to become more and more quirky and the situations more and more awkward to the point that everyone was just flat out obnoxious to each other all the time. I noticed that I was no longer rooting for any of the characters because I didn't like any of them anymore.

I had the same problem with Arrested Development and Mad Men (not a comedy I know, but the same issue). I only managed a few episodes of each show before giving up on them both because I couldn't find enough admirable qualities in any of the characters to like any of them.

Why the shift in television designs? What was wrong with the normal sitcom storylines like in Friends and How I Met Your Mother? All the characters had their own little idiosyncrasies, but they were good characters. You could identify with them and cheer them on because they were multifaceted. Even the "players" were likeable because they had personalities outside of that stereotype. The humour, while sometimes based on conflicting personalities, was also used through dialogue and situations. The shows were much more relaxing and enjoyable to watch because you weren't constantly frustrated with the characters.

I'm not entirely against awkward humour - I still love watching old episodes of The Office and I like when the technique is used in small amounts. But the increasing number of shows that include this kind of theme are making it harder and harder for me to enjoy watching new television shows and is turning me off of "humourous" shows in general. Until, if ever, more shows contain better entertainment, I'll be avoiding modern comedies.

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