Friday, November 18, 2011

Thirty-minute miracles

Hal Peary as The Great Gildersleeve
I am huge fan of television (and radio!) situation comedies.  Nothing can tickle me faster than 23 minutes of boffo laffs, with seven minutes of commercials and promos.  In just 30 minutes, you've had your Minimum Adult Daily Allowance of yucks, chortles and guffaws.  From "The Great Gildersleeve" to "Ozzie and Harriet" to "Two Broke Girls," the set up has been the same for over eighty years, except there are a lot more dick jokes in the newer shows.

The show opens with a brief sketch, usually involving someone looking perplexed, and then here comes the theme song, which plays while the actors are shown spinning around, laughing and living it up.

After the commercials, the premise of the show is set up: in the old days, it was that the boss was coming for dinner and Mom burned the roast.  Today, it's that Cousin Judy is six days late and frantic.  Either way, it's a mirthfest, mirroring our own lives, in which everything is funny.  Isn't it?

Then more commercials, for cars or beer or what-have-you.  In the penultimate act, with seconds to spare, the boss walks in with a whole salami for everyone to share, or Cousin Judy's Aunt Flow arrives to the cheers of all, and just like in real life, everything works out.  

Then more commercials, and a promo or two, and then the denouement, in which Judy, her worthless boyfriend of 17 years and a couple of others sit around ruminating over life's vicissisitudes.  Boom!  Closing theme, and time for "New Girl."

And speaking of which, the other night on "New Girl," her friend CeCe played the part that has been done over and over in tv and movies, namely: the really pretty girl who loves bad boys.  One of the three great sitcom stereotypes for women, right there.  She is beautiful, all the guys want her, and would strew roses in her path for just the chance to dally with her once.  

But she only likes the guy who shows up late, and ignores her or insults her.  Him, she can't get enough of.

The other two stereotypes for women in sitcoms and movies are:
  • The beautiful woman who never gets asked out because everyone figures it's not even worth it to ask her out (to the prom, the office Christmas party, the opening of a new abattoir) because she is clearly dated up through St Patrick's Day, so they don't ask, and she sits home alone night after night, wishing that new guy in Accounts Receivable would stop mooning over her and pick up the intercom to ask her out.  This role is usually played by women such as Cindy Crawford or Candice Bergen.  In the real world, beautiful women are busier than Lindsay Lohan's lawyer, and if the guy from Accounts Receivable ever did call to ask them out, the answer would be, "Who is this, again?"
  • The beautiful woman married to a chubby, yet jocular, guy.  Think Leah Remini ("King of Queens") and Audrey Meadows ("The Honeymooners"). In the real world, guys who look like Kevin James and Jackie Gleason are strangers to the Leahs and the Audreys, and don't marry lovely women. Except for me!

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