Tobias Fünke: Lord of Queer Humour

Gay jokes in fiction usually amount to this formula: one character says something that can also be interpreted as incredibly gay without realizing it and everyone looks shocked at him. The humour comes from the fact that this often happens in real life due to how far down the gutter our minds have gotten (everything can be construed as gay innuendo these days) and that these jokes in fiction capture those isolated moments of hilarity. The problem is they usually aren’t funny because of the fakeness of it all. It just comes off as manufactured and forced most of the time and the humour dies as a result. Every other sentence out of Alan Harper’s mouth on Two and a Half Men these days is a gay double entendre and it fails to crack even a grin from me. Yes, jokes like that tend to have no effect, except of course in the case of Arrested Development’s Tobias Fünke.

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Anatomy of a Joke: I Lie To Myself

30 Rock is a show where jokes fly at you so quickly and so consistently that you’ll find yourself still laughing at the last one that registered 3 jokes after it was told. Sometimes though, there are jokes that force you to sit and really think about them, jokes that will eviscerate you time and time again, jokes that you can re-watch endlessly and find something new to rave about… This here is one of those jokes. Allow me to break it down for you.

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Linda Belcher is the Best Sitcom Wife

Alriiiight, let’s talk about sitcom wives. The general role they’ve had all the way back since The Honeymooners was to be the voice of reason to balance out the craziness their husbands bring each week. The husband does something impulsive, the wife tells him how stupid it is to have done that. The husband wants to do something fun and irresponsible, the wife is always there to stop him. This is how it is, and it made sense for a while. Long ago, women were always seen as less intelligent and less capable than men, so in order to subvert that sitcom writers decided it’d be cool to to portray women as the smart and responsible ones married to men who are less intelligent and immature. Unfortunately this stuck long after people needed to be reminded that women are just as intelligent and capable as men, and what we have now is so much worse as a result. Leading women in comedy these days are worse than idiots, worse than flighty numbskulls, and worse than any diva brat the misogynist writers of old could possibly cook up. Women in comedy today are buzz kills. They’re here to tell their family to not do this or that, and to act like some lame authority figure that must be reported to or else they’ll nag. How many times do we see Homer desperately trying to appease Marge for disobeying her wishes to not do whatever dumb and irresponsible thing he did that week? How many times did we hear sitcom dads use the phrase “If my wife finds out, she’s going to kill me”? The answer to both those questions is “far too many times”. Recently however, there has been a shift. To balance out their nagginess, writers have taken to giving sitcom wives “crazy” quirks or weaknesses where they act out of character to show that they can be funny too. Unfortunately it just comes off as a hollow attempt to invigorate the most boring character on their show. Linda Belcher of Bob’s Burgers however is different. She can be “crazy”, and fun, and be a loving mom and still stay true to her character. It’s an impressive feat, but it’s also a trick only this show can pull off.

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The Good Wife is the Most Impressive Show on TV

I love The Good Wife. It’s clever, bold, funny, and unbelievably resilient. I mention resilience because it’s what leads me to my conclusion that this show is the most impressive one on television. After just having its 6th season midseason-finale (where the show took another in a long line of enormous risks) while being well over 100 episodes old, I continue to be in awe of its ability to still be so damn good. Often being seen as a just another CBS procedural drama from those who don’t know any better, The Good Wife is head and shoulders above the rest of TV’s network dramas and is without a doubt on the level of prestige cable dramas such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men. The acting on all fronts is phenomenal, the scripts are fantastic, and mother of God is the satire on politics and the law on point. Perhaps cable dramas are more tightly written, with less plots being dropped or going undeveloped as they have on The Good Wife on occasion, but those shows don’t have to run for half as long as it does. The ability to churn out 22 quality episodes a year is remarkable on its own, but to be able to balance so many plots, character arcs, and themes just makes me want to scream out in empathy. “That’s just way too much work!” I want to say, but all that comes out is “thankyouthankyouthankyou!”, since this show ends up doing so much right.

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Parks and Recreation Season 1 was a Show About Terrible People

People today know Parks and Recreation as this funny sitcom with a lot of warmth and heart about really distinct and likable characters. Sometimes they veer too far into caricature territory, but they are always grounded by the huge amount of chemistry they share. The show is just so good-natured and lovable, which is appropriate because it’s a show about people working in a city government parks and recreation department. It’s now going into it’s 7th and finale season after coming off a fantastic 6th season finale (that could have honestly made a satisfying series finale), but now that we’ve come so far it’s important to think about how these characters have changed. Thinking back, Parks and Recreation was very different in its first season. Most shows take some time to find themselves, but this one essentially had to reinvent itself after a shaky start. The reason this is the case was that the cast back then was pretty much unlikable for the most part. To illustrate this, I’d like to compare the differences between how they are now and how they were back then. Here’s what we know of the cast now:

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Masahiro Sakurai: The Control Freak Smash Bros. Mastermind

“Have you ever made a game?”

Masahiro Sakurai is the mastermind behind Smash Bros. who is also known for creating the Kirby franchise. He has overseen the development for every Smash Bros. game to date and is known to be heavily involved with every detail of the creation of his games… and by that I mean he is a total control freak. Now I’m not saying this to insult him or put down his work, his games have all been excellent for the most part (Kid Icarus: Uprising was fantastic for example), but he is definitely your textbook control freak. A lot of what we see in Smash Bros. is a direct reflection of what goes on in Sakurai’s mind. This is probably why he’s almost like a cult personality among Smash fans, with countless people either worshiping him over the internet or fearing him like an angry God who can do the worst thing imaginable to them. Because Sakurai is the face of Smash Bros. people have come to love him or despise him to the core.

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Musings on Smash

Wario showing these fools who’s boss

Smash Bros. for the Wii U is finally out so there is so much for me to be happy about today. Smash Bros. (1999) was my childhood! And Super Smash Bros Melee (2002) was my formative years! And Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) was my adolescence! I wonder where the newest entry into the franchise will fall in with my life? I don’t know what else to say other than I’m super excited to finally play this.

Something you should know is that Smash Bros. is often a centre of debate for a lot of people out there.

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The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper is a Joke on the Audience

Pictured: The star of The Big Bang Theory desperately pleading for pants… and laughs.

Sheldon Cooper isn’t funny. The breakout usurper star of the immensely popular sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, who is quickly becoming a popcultural icon on the level of “The Fonz” of Happy Days and Steve Urkel of Family Matters (other stars who usurped the lead role from fellow cast mates due to their popularity) is mostly just a loathsome and ignorant person. It’s not that you can’t be those things and funny, but Sheldon’s particular brand of awfulness has gotten sour as of late. Before, Sheldon was merely selfish and believably unfamiliar with social cues, much like an overgrown child. Now that selfishness and obliviousness has rotted into this odd streak of maliciousness and willful ignorance of even the most basic social conventions. The way he treats his friends, his girlfriend, and his colleagues has gone past “funny” and moved firmly into insufferable territory. The worst part of his character is how the writers try to convince us that Sheldon is a decent person “deep down” and just doesn’t know how to show it. They give us stunning moments of “growth” for him, but they fall apart once you realize how unearned they are. The problem is, Sheldon isn’t just a misguided and naive child, he’s actually a full on ass hole and nothing shows that more clearly than this scene right here.

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Two and a Half Men’s Adoption Arc: A Surprisingly Thoughtful Story or a New Low?

My post today is a way to direct your attention at something that is happening with the final season of Two and a Half Men. Two and a Half Men, for the most part, is a pretty raunchy show following raunchy people. It peddles cheap laughs with a slew of dirty jokes thrown at the audience at breakneck speeds. If there is any opening for a lowbrow joke, you better believe this show will take it. Originally starring Charlie Sheen as the drunken womanizer Charlie Harper (“HAHAHA KINDA LIKE THE REAL CHARLIE SHEEN HA!”), the show followed how his life was shaken up by the arrival of his deadbeat brother Alan Harper who is played by Jon Cryer. After Sheen was fired (thus ruining the integrity of Two and a Half Men for many viewers by sullying its proud name), Ashton Kutcher came aboard as Walden Schmidt, a tech-company billionaire bachelor. A few sitcom contrivances later, Walden has replaced Charlie as the person Alan is sponging off of as a deadbeat tenant. Now, after a few seasons of being with Alan, Walden decided his life was empty, so he decides to adopt a child. Because he can’t adopt a child as a single man, he needs to find someone he can marry quickly (and due to his unbelievably terrible experience with women), he has chosen to marry Alan who he can trust. This is where things get tricky.

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The Answer is Suffering

“You go to the movies to see people you love suffer-that’s why you go to the movies.”

This is a quote from Joss Whedon, a writer, director, composer, and the crowned “Lord of the Nerds”. He is behind some of the biggest movie and TV franchises of all time (he directed The Avengers and created Buffy the Vampire Slayer), with several of his works developing dedicated cult followings. This is a striking quote that caused a lot of fans anticipating The Avenger‘s sequel to raise an eyebrow, and anyone whose watched Buffy, Angel, or some of his other shows should already have had some inclination that this was his mindset when it comes to creating stories. He kills character we love, he builds up hope for a certain thing to happen with the sole intent of shattering it, and he does not always provide us with happy endings. The most common criticism against Whedon is that he ventures too often into dark territory. That he relishes in cruelty for cruelty’s sake, and loves to punish his audience for loving his characters. I would argue that Whedon is doing the opposite of that, and that suffering is the key element in every story. By forcing characters to go through despair, he connects us with their world. Whedon isn’t punishing us for liking his characters, he is connecting the audience to their lives by sharing the most intimate thing they have: Their pain.

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