Monday, May 11, 2015

Currently Watching 5.11.15

So I was going to talk about how I think Harold and Maude is a Holocaust survivor masterpiece, but let's just talk about that in person, yeah? Instead, let's talk about television. And I'm going to apologize in advance, because I can't seem to pick just one thing to talk about; this is going to be a long ramble and I love you all for powering through it.

Introduction: why TV is beautiful
I'm sorry - this is one of the only TV shows I know well enough to reference, and so I'm going to - a lot.

The demonization of television really ruffles my jimmies. It's hip these days to sip your black coffee and sniff that: "Oh, I don't watch TV." As someone who both drinks black coffee (though, admittedly, hates that she does) and didn't have a TV growing up, I abhor this mentality. It focuses on the lamer shows in television today and disregards all the cinematic work being put out. I had a friend once who told me that we were entering the golden age of television, and I have to agree with him. Sitcoms have grown from idealized versions of what a nuclear family should be (lookin' at you, "I Love Lucy" and "The Brady Bunch") to more realistic depictions that embrace the flaws and dysfunctions of a family (i.e., Arrested Development). Dramatic television, in the past decade or so, now has plot arcs and symbolism worthy of an old Russian novel (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad). Comedy is now hyperconscious about what it does and exploits that to the audience in order to heighten the effect (Community, Scrubs). Now, to be fair, most of the information I'm receiving is from the people watching these shows and so they have biased viewpoints, but there's still a lot to be said for the postmodernity of television today. Which brings me to:

Chapter 1: Why the Mighty Boosh is a post-modern masterpiece

The Mighty Boosh is a dumb, absurdist, surreal British comedy that's irreverent and ridiculous. I know a finger can be pointed at nearly anything these days and someone can claim it to be a "postmodern masterpiece," but hear me out. The first seasons are presented as a show within a show. Each episode begins with the two main characters, Howard and Vince, welcoming the viewer; this immediately makes it clear how conscious these characters are to the fact that they're acting on television. Sometimes they'll even address the acting explicitly, as you'll see below.
Later in that same episode, Howard makes an appearance as a ghost. When Vince tries to put his hand through this companion, Howard scolds, "we spent all the budget on your hair, remember?" At other points throughout the series, they'll reference that this is a fabrication; for instance, in one episode, Vince tells another character he needs to find Howard because: "he basically gets in trouble every week and I have to go get him out." 

The Mighty Boosh also makes use of the mixing of genres that is common to postmodernism, with each episode being a parody of an existing facet of pop culture or mimicking a particular genre. For instance, one episode features the two main characters stranded on a deserted island; they then create new friends out of coconuts, much as Tom Hanks does with a beach ball in the movie, "Castaway." Other episodes include elements of such genres as romantic comedy and sci-fi horror. One time there's even a music video sequence, filmed in the stereotypical manner. 

There's also much fun being poked at various subcultures, which I'm a bit of a sucker for. The fashion-conscious character of Vince often changes his "look" based on who he wants to be viewed by; at points, he cycles through the cultures of punks, electro, and - my favorite - mods. Still, the show manages to make fun of this mentality further by casting Vince as a fashion icon in the later episodes. He constantly invents "looks," such as 'ice chic' and 'future sailor.'

I want to go on and on, but I'll cut myself off here. This acknowledgement of the tropes and fabrication of television makes Mighty Boosh postmodern, and the fact that it's brilliant makes it a masterpiece. I'm out, y'all, have a great day. Oh, and Maggie's mom - happy Mother's Day!

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