Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Am I a prude?

I guess so.

I could probably think of a less negative word for it.

But who gives a crap?

You see?  I can go “edgy.”

My position on “coarse and vulgar” feels legitimate.  I recall once, working as a consultant on The Larry Sanders Show, and being asked by Garry Shandling to read a part at a table reading, substituting for an actor whose scheduling conflict made him unable to participate.

I did a good job with the acting.  But the dialogue’s “language” left me embarrassed and upset.  I felt uncomfortable uttering those words. 

(But I had to, which I think was the point.  Sometimes, Garry Shandling was… I don’t know.  He thought that was hilarious.)

My visceral discomfort was real.  For whatever reason, I cannot exactly explain why, comedy of a gutterish nature is not my natural habitat.


So I watch the series finale of Veep, a show I have occasionally sampled, but, like Fox News, only long enough to realize I have mistakenly walked into the wrong room.

Cynical.  Cruel.  “Ugliest Case Scenario.”  Vagino-centric.  (Which is seemingly okay when delivered by a woman.)  Unreflective of the administration Veep debuted during – the Obama – teaching us nothing, and scummily “on the money” for the administration that came next, teaching us nothing we don’t already know, a Veep participant opining, “We started out as a satire, and now we’re a documentary.”

True, dat.   Though not so fast on the “satire.”

Why did I talk twice about “teaching” in the previous paragraph?  Because that’s what satire’s intended to do – shine a light on current conditions, hoping people’ll wake up and say, “No!”

That’s what Lenny Bruce did.  He kicked down the door on “offensive language.  And, for that, “Way to go, Lenny!”

But guys – that is only “Step One.”

Lenny Bruce got you the words.  Now,

“What do you do with them?”

Which, considering its torturous efforts to achieve, has to be more than Veep’s privileged children, wallowing in poo.

You don’t have to tell me this is “old-fashioned thinking” by a “retro” TV writer uncomfortable being caustic, cutting, and crude. (And that’s just the “C’s” – a retro “ba-dump-bump” if ever I heard one.  And yet, I am somehow amused.)

Garnering numerous awards for “Best Comedy of the Year” makes Veep the “Gold Standard” for “quality comedy”, the guiding template for how to succeed.  You want to be big?  You want to win prizes?  Watch Veep.  “Juicing” the template, making it look “retro.”  Whatever that looks like, and I figuratively blush to imagine.  (I would have to actually watch it to blush literally.  And it is unlikely I would.)

I know every generation thinks the generation that follows is morally corrupt.  They said reading comic books would rot your brain.  And before that – way before that – it was,

“Anatomically accurate ‘cave paintings’?   Quick!  Invent soap, and wash that thing off!”

Good writing, in whatever formulation including the ones I don’t care for, requires  meaningful purpose.  Take out “All politicians are self-serving idiots!” – which is either highly exaggerated or the disheartening death knell for democracy – and all Veep has left is,

“We can say this!

I know you can say that. 

But what are you saying when you say that?

“Ca-ca, pee-pee” is not satire.  It’s a four year-old, needing a “Time out.”

Will the pendulum ever swing back?  That’s all pendulums do, so who knows?  Westerns got too violent and they pulled in the reins.  (Producing dull westerns.)  But things have changed since then.  With the proliferation of viewing options, there is no longer one “reins.”

I don’t know.

When I broke in, I wanted to work on the best shows on TV.

Faced with the “Best Show On TV” standards of today,

What exactly would I do?
My mistake.

And it happens a lot, explaining why posts I should move up remain instead where they are, and no longer temporally relevant, if they ever were in the first place, which is highly unlikely. 

Almost every time I move a newly written post down, moving a previously written post up, I mess up, spoiling the continuity, publishing two posts on one day, or creating a day with no post at all.

That's why I don't do it unless I have to.  And with "Root, Root, Root...", I had to.  Forgetfully leaving a setup to a post that did not appear until today.

I hope the confusion was worth the wait.  But if you're going to read an old blogger, you'll have to tolerate "Old Blogger" mistakes.

That is simply the way is it.


FFS said...

Just wanted you to know that I was paying attention. I liked Veep the first couple of seasons but they upped the grossness to a level where it is truly cringe-worthy. And it is not the words themselves ... it is the images created by the words.

Mike Barer said...

I enjoyed Veep, I think it is an exaggeration, but makes some good points. No need to worry, everyone else watched "Game Of Thrones". I didn't. I'm a political junkie. I really enjoyed a show named Alpha House that ran on Amazon Prime. It showed politics in a good light where Democrats and Republicans could get along, when they were not debating policy, sadly, the show was quickly cancelled.