Friday, August 3, 2012

Not So New Girl

I like Zooey Deschanel. I thought she was good in (500) Days of Summer. I was hopeful about her being interesting and talented. That is why I gave New Girl, 5 minutes of my time, despite obvious reservations... If I didn't know any better, I'd say that there's a conspiracy to pump a conservative agenda though mainstream T.V. with the appearance of being liberal. And I'll tell you why. I happened upon the episode where New Girl decides to have a one night stand but once she finds her male equivalent of the dumb blond, who in real-life, if he had this dialogue would be considered mentally impaired, she changes her mind, realising it's not for her. And I thought, imagine she went through with the one-night-stand, had great sex and went home thinking she'd found a new lifestyle. Now, THAT would be a new girl. Because while shows like this love to show us promiscuity (because they're so hip), it's usually the side-line character who has the easy morals and of course, low self-esteem. She's the comic relief, the hooker with a heart of gold, she's Joey from Friends, minus the admiration. Meanwhile, our girl-next-door protagonist seems to be shoehorned into a moral agenda where she never has sex without emotional involvement and her career decisions are always made with her heart. Admirable qualities, of course. But I'm predicting her career will never suffer - the tricky thing being, the downside to her choices is unlikely to be explored. So, why are we being served up such patronising, conservatism with our mindless entertainment? I mean, who's in charge of T.V. anyway? Bill Hicks claimed it's the corporate brandateers who sponsor the T.V. channels, demanding a certain audience. The question to me then is: are we getting what we want or are we being told what we want? I think we're being duped. We want something new, something that will surprise us. But most shows are only made to look progressive because they'll start with a modern premise. Then, despite her freedom, the newest girl will never really leave a safe "family values" perimeter and the over-contrived plot will never have her lose out because of it. So, really, no risk is being taken, nothing is being challenged and we're just being served up the same old after-school special. Don't even get me started on the male counterparts who always seem, in contrast, to be family-reluctant morons, happy being treated as children. It's as if, in representing women as being "able to do it all", the male stereotype has had to be reduced to an extra child in the house.

I think it's easier to put original programmes on T.V. in Britain, than in the U.S. There's less advertisement - sponsor influence and corporate control and the censorship rules are more relaxed and diverse across the terrestrial channels. Sharon Horgan's Pulling is an excellent example of original, uncompromising T.V. which was broadcast on BBC3. Even the insipid Coupling, the British answer to Friends didn't bother with a moral agenda. Also in The States, religion has had more ferver in recent years (to put it mildly) and there has been a revival of family-value/traditional idealism. Which makes me think: Bill Hicks had such faith in his audience; it's part of what has made him a cult hero - he believed the audience was just like him and wanted his edgy, subversive style of satire - if he could only get passed the censors... But, maybe he was wrong. Maybe there's no conspiracy. No mind control to keep viewers in the optimum state of watching and buying. Just people getting what they want.

In which case, fine by me. I can switch channels. Or, better still, I can buy The Wire on D.V.D. It's just... don't call the damn thing New Girl!

I realise that I have repeated myself, because here is my poem Sitcom Drops which has a similar theme.
And, here's Prime Time Guy, about the struggle of the T.V. satirist.

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