We’re Not All Retarded

Recently, I was bitching about television.  “I hate that most television acts as though all their viewers have the brains of sea monkeys.”  This is a relatively new concept for me, given that I have just picked up the habit of viewing television after more than a decade of simply not watching any.   Without missing a beat, he said “Lowest Common Denominator.”  I knew what he meant and I didn’t even have to look that trope up immediately. Eventually (today) I did. and that led me to “Viewers are Morons.”

“Big Bang Theory” was what got me really going on this.  Watching along the 4th season, Sheldon acquires a cat in episode 3.  He introduces the cat as “Dr. Robert Oppenheimer.”  Cute, right?  Though, I immediately thought privately “It would have been way funnier to name the cat “Schrödinger”, but whatevs.”  After a bit of conversation, Sheldon announces he needs to go because “the father of the Atomic Bomb wants a saucer of milk.”  …

It honestly offended me that the writers felt that the name could not stand alone. that within 30 seconds, they had to source it or all of their viewers (ME) would just be… lost.  I’m not claiming that I am  a science goddess; but in my opinion, knowing who Oppenheimer was does not make one lead cashier at Wal-Mart.

The above video is without a doubt, my favorite moment in the entire show of Deadwood.  I was nearly pissing myself laughing as I watched it the first time. I still find myself giggling for the millionth time as I watch the video.  That scene is funny on so many levels. And yet again, the writers ruin it.  Evidently, they felt we would all miss the joke completely, if they didn’t have Al stop and *explain* the humor to us as he finishes the scene.

Luckily, all the shows don’t do that.  “Seinfeld” didn’t explain every reference.  I went on a mad hunt today to find a particular episode.  I had no idea which it was, but luckily- GOOGLE TO THE RESCUE!  I wanted to double-check my memory with either locating the episode or a telescript to see if I was remembering correctly. And I was.   “The Maid”: Season 9, episode 19.  Kramer is lost and calls Jerry collect. Jerry hollers into the phone “WHATEVER HAPPENS, JUST STAY ALIVE!!! I *WILL* FIND YOU!!!!!”  Yes, it’s an obvious play on pop culture.  And I’m not saying it is the precipice of intellectualism.  But at the very least, they assumed that we’d get that reference to “Last of the Mohicans.”

My last example is from one of my current favorite shows, “Mad Men”.  I love Don.  I realize that has very little to do with my point, but this is *my* rant, so suck it up.  Mad Men is one of the slickest, smartest shows I’ve ever watched.  I love that they drop references all the time.  Be they historical or cultural, they are just there.  I am not claiming I get all of them.  I have a sick sort of feeling that most of them go flying over my head.  However, I don’t see that as a negative because I never even feel the breeze.  I don’t lose anything by not catching them nor do the writers insult me by pointing out every one.

The one in particular I’m thinking of happened in season 4, episode 1.   Don and Roger are reading an interview in the newspaper that featured Don.   “…[Don] is a handsome cypher. One imagines somewhere in an attic, there is a painting of him that is rapidly aging.”  Yes. They dropped the Oscar Wilde bomb and just moved on.  I thought that was so awesome.  You either knew they were talking about “The Picture of Dorian Gray” or you did not. It wasn’t a big deal, really.  But I am not even going to pretend I wasn’t all kinds of self-congratulations that I knew.

So pretty please with sugar on it, give us a little more credit once in a while.



~ by Layla on June 23, 2011.

One Response to “We’re Not All Retarded”

  1. Quiet, I just have to think.

    This is probably THE definitive reason that I stopped watching television.

    It isn’t difficult to feel how dumbed down some things are if you are NOT the target needing it. At some point, it began to feel like EVERYTHING was being dumbed down.

    I obviously was not the target audience of most of what was being pumped out. Not just a show here or there, but wave upon wave of shit that I more than likely could be exposed to were I to walk outside and ring one of my neighbor’s doorbells: “Huh, reading huh…you like to curl up with some tea and read when the weather is bad out? I ain’t really into reading, it involves thinking and I ain’t all fancy pants Mc-educated. I do like beer though…and rasslin”. Well, golllllee. I ain’t never heard such talk before in all my life.

    Eff that esse, I can think of much more enjoyable, entertaining ways to dumb myself down. If that were my goal.

    I don’t feel the need to be intellectually challenged every second of the day, but then I also don’t feel the need to have every damn thing, no matter how obvious, explained to me. Like yew said, give us some credit sometimes.

    Some of the fun, some of the “interactiveness” of shows for me is having to look things up sometimes. If I find that I am lost or pick up on the fact that I am being expected to pick up on a reference I enjoy digging that info up.

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