Saturday 16 November 2013

You're a woman, women want me. I'm what we have in common.

Chuck Lorre's The Big Bang Theory is a good show.  Yeah yeah, I know, I know...
It's not a popular opinion among nerds because the series is seen to make fun of "our kind" and we do so like to react to perceived butthurt, but to take this view is to ascribe too narrow a focus to the narrative, as Big Bang Theory is not a show that makes fun of nerds, it is a show that makes fun of jerks.  Everyone in the show is a jerk from the bubbly blonde bimbo to the weakling stereotypical jewish doctor to the comic-book reading college professors to the guest stars playing larger-than-life fictional versions of themselves - everyone is a jerk to everyone else and they all suffer for it sooner or later.  The Los Angeles of Big Bang Theory, if it is not Hell, it is at least a karmic cycle for its characters who never get away with any underhandedness or jerkoff  behavior for very long and when discovered they pay a price.
Though these characters are extremes - nerds, bimbos, social misfits - they are also how America is supposed to view itself because Big Bang Theory is a show about the American middle class, the idealised notion of America where people work hard and are rewarded, and where they act out and are punished if not by the law then by the scorn and disapproval of their peers.

On the other hand, I am not sure what I think of Chuck Lorre's Mom, but I suspect it may be terrible.
Mom is the story of dishonest, drug-addicted, alcoholic, slutty, thieving, adulterous poor people, and like the worst of US tv, the poor are the punchline rather than the setup.  Would the middle class cast of Big Bang Theory smuggle drugs?  Would they have a pregnant teenage daughter?  Would they be attending AA meetings?  Would they be recovering alcoholics?  Would they fuck.
And yet for some reason the poor people who comprise the cast of Mom can do all these things - in fact, all these things are traits of the main character alone, though some are shared with other cast members, and their failings as mothers, citizens and friends are often celebrated within the context of their caste as something admirable.  It is a weird show if you subscribe to the notion that Lorre leans towards a socialist view of the world based on his scripting work - and starting his career on Roseanne - but makes a sad kind of sense if you view it as yet another big laugh at poverty from a guy whose most successful sitcom is about a millionaire in a beach house and his - hohoho! - sponging, disgusting and dishonest working-class room-mate, a sitcom which latterly (post Charlie Sheen) all but has cast members fellate the millionaire character onscreen while telling him how rich, handsome and well-hung he is once an episode.
Still, it got actual poor people on tv and that's something, I guess.

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