Like many people in the '90s, I tuned into NBC's enormously popular Thursday night comedy block for Friends, Seinfeld and many other shows in that time slot over the decade. At the time, it was like the TV equivalent of seeing Jurassic Park on opening weekend: It just felt like the thing to do.
Thursday nights on the Peacock Network are a completely different experience today. Unlike their '90s counterparts, Community, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and The Office aren't huge rating successes. (And 30 Rock is currently on hiatus until midseason due to Tina Fey's maternity leave, replaced by a little show called Whitney. Maybe you've heard of it?)
I watched 2 Broke Girls last night with what I felt were managed expectations. The show was co-created by a woman, but that woman is Whitney Cummings (who, with the addition of her show Whitney, may be responsible for this season's network sitcoms being schlockier than ever). The show is about a female friendship, but the premise is really trite and predictable. The show stars Kat Dennings (whom I like), but it is also really bad.
I agree. These uniforms ARE a visual representation of the tired stereotypes that permeate our show!
Many characters on television are explicitly mentally ill, and they come in a wide range of presentations. Television as a medium provides a unique opportunity for long, complex character arcs, which can be good when a show wants to take mental health seriously and really explore characters and their development. It can also be very, very bad, when a show doesn't do the research, and instead presents extended, truly awful depictions of mental illness.
I just finished watching the new NBC comedy Up All Night, and though repeat viewings might reveal plot holes and problematic jokes (it is a network sitcom, after all), I absolutely loved it. Will Arnett and Christina Applegate are terrific as Reagan and Chris, a completely charming married couple who support one another but aren't too sappy or perfect, and Maya Rudolph is hysterical as Reagan's boss Ava, the Oprah-esque talk show host with a flair for the dramatic. I may be speaking a bit too soon since I've only seen one episode, but color me psyched about this show. (Yep, I said color me psyched. That's how psyched I am.)
Television stations in the US are required by FCC regulations to have a minimum of three hours a week of "educational programming" aimed at children. This actually began in the 90s, and initially television stations met the requirements by having little life lessons tacked on to their various cartoons. Some of you may recall very peppy "Sailor Moon Says!" segments, or "Knowing is half the battle!" from G.I. Joe. Other "edutainment" shows baked the lesson right into the text, such as Captain Planet and the Planeteers (pollution is bad, environment is good, go Captain Planet!) and Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (geography and fighting crime!). More recently, FCC regulations have tightened up a bit, and shows need to do a bit more than say "Drugs are bad, m'kay?" to quality for an E/I rating, but we still have a good decade of important "educational" cartoon shows to look at and consider the life lessons we're to learn!
So, what can watching cartoons teach us about people who are crazy? Oh, lots of fun things!