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Valid Concerns

I hate (American) sitcoms and soap operas.  That’s a sweeping generalization, a trend that seems to be sweeping the Web of late.  No choice but to continue.

The majority of American sitcoms derive their humor—or, from my perspective, “humor”—from characters getting into embarrassing situations and then trying frantically to get out of them.  The laughs are generated by watching this person be humilated, often at length.  Generally, the humiliatee is receiving some form of just desserts: they got themselves into the situation through selfishness or arrogance or some other form of hubris, and end up paying the price.  In any event, they get to squirm and flail before our eyes and it’s funny!  Only it isn’t.

I dislike American soap operas not because they’re harshly lit and seem like community theater writ large.  I have no issues with the acting, which is actually fairly impressive in terms of the quality-to-quantity ratio.  I dislike soap operas because they’re nothing but sturm und drang, one melodramatic setpiece after another.  The number one rule is, nobody gets to be happy for long.  Anyone who does find happiness is just being set up for a major, major trauma, likely at the hands of whoever is currently making them happy.  (Although death is far less traumatic in soap operas than in real life, as people come back from the dead and aren’t even zombified when they do.  Which I suppose is good news for the power grid.)  There’s only so much of the constant chest-heaving, garment-rending dramatics I can handle before I glaze over and start to closely contemplate my cuticles.

Now why would I be talking about this when everyone else is talking about validation?  It’s a mystery, I agree.

Three Responses

    • #1
    • Trackback
    • Thu 17 Jun 2004
    • 2326
    Received from Dave's Chalkboard

    Eric's Archived Thoughts: Valid Concerns
    Eric's Archived Thoughts: Valid Concerns comments on American soap operas: I dislike American soap operas not because they”re harshly lit and seem like community theater writ large. I have no issues with the acting, which is actually fairly impr…

    • #2
    • Trackback
    • Fri 18 Jun 2004
    • 1302
    Received from Individualism

    Sitcoms and Soaps
    Eric Meyer, of Complex Spiral fame, a web standards demigod, has some harsh words for sitcom and soaps screen writters. I dislike American soap operas not because they”re harshly lit and seem like community theater writ large. I have no…

    • #3
    • Trackback
    • Fri 18 Jun 2004
    • 1441
    Received from Simon Willison

    Comment
    I’ve always thought that the difference between US and UK sitcoms is that US sitcoms are usually about succesful, popular people (Friends, Frasier etc) whereas UK ones almost universally focus on complete losers – Fawlty Towers, The Office, The Young …


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