- One last “Bazinga!”
- What was going on with Constance Wu?
- Loving Arthur is gay rights.
- Renee Zellweger is back!
- The Thrones meme that’s better than the show.
- Let’s talk about Lucifer...
I Love The Big Bang Theory and I Don’t Care Who Knows It
This is a safe space. It’s a no-judgment zone where all pop culture opinions are welcome, unless that opinion is in any way disparaging to Oprah or Beyoncé, in which case get out of here, you mountain heap of garbage with port-a-potty vapors for a brain.
This is all a long-winded way of me gearing up to say something that may be a little bit controversial: It’s OK to like The Big Bang Theory.
Actually, hold on to yer bonnets, little ladies, because I’m about to raise it another level: The Big Bang Theory is one of TV’s funniest shows.
This shouldn’t be a controversial opinion, that the most-watched comedy series on TV in the last decade, and maybe the last network sitcom hit we’ll ever have, is funny. But people who watch TV are a catty bunch. The journey of the CBS comedy is a fascinating one, from underrated gem to blockbuster phenomenon to public-opinion punching bag.
It ended its storied run Thursday night with a poignant, heartfelt series finale hardly bruised from the recent years of jabs from snooty social media critics. It will end its 12 seasons as still the highest-rated comedy on TV, the most-watched comedy series internationally, and so popular that reruns on TBS regularly rank among the most-viewed shows on all of cable.
The Big Bang Theory is the rare modern series to fail to connect out of the gate but miraculously find an audience in seasons two and three. It honed its creative voice along the way and sparking a whisper campaign among critics—“Hey, this show is actually pretty good…”—that amplified to a mass-culture obsession bellowed through a megaphone.
Jim Parsons was giving one of the most interesting performances we’ve ever seen from a sitcom lead. The addition of Mayim Bialik was a stroke of genius. And like everything popular, they were bludgeoned with backlash.
The word “bazinga!” would cause these snobbish boobs to break out into hives. They’re the crowd that didn’t find the show high-minded, dark, complex, or provocative enough to earn its outsized popularity, let alone mention among the “real” best comedies on TV. The fact that Americans were enamored by something this broad and base-level when there was so much “better,” “smarter” TV out there for them to be watching sent them into conniption fits.
It’s such nonsense.
There’s always been a superiority complex attached to mass culture, so that people can feel elevated by judging and demeaning what merits broad popularity. That word, “broad,” is an insult in their lexicon, because anything that could appeal to the common denominator couldn’t possibly carry any true excellence or merit. I’ve always found that dismissive attitude to be unforgivable, especially considering that what shows like The Big Bang Theory do—make smart comedy for everyone to laugh at—is as, if not more, creatively challenging that any high-concept auteur endeavor.
There’s a reason those Big Bang reruns score such huge ratings. There’s a timelessness to the humor and to the style of comedy. A decade can pass and a new era and comedy trend can kick in, but the episodes are as just-plain-funny now as they were when they first aired. Like any long-running comedy, the show may not have been its sharpest and most clever in these final days. But it still batted a slugging percentage infinitely higher than most of its multicam, network TV contemporaries.
At such a volatile time, the only thing that’s seemed certain these days is death, taxes, and Jim Parsons pratfalling for $1 million episode. The constant presence of Big Bang has been as soothing as a verse of “Soft Kitty.” I’m sad to see it go.
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The Curious Case of Constance Wu
This weekend I took a rare, glorious break from social media, during which I recharged, met the royal babies—my newborn twin nephews—and had no idea why everyone was mad at Constance Wu.
It was glorious, and I wish the same experience for everyone.
While I was basking in infant cuteness, apparently Wu, who went from well-liked sitcom actress for her years starring on Fresh Off the Boat to big-ass Movie Star for her work on Crazy Rich Asians, discovered that the aforementioned sitcom was renewed for another season, despite being “on the bubble”—so-so ratings that could go either way. Constance Wu was not happy!
“Fucking hell,” she tweeted. “So upset right now that I’m literally crying.” It’s not your usual response to discovering that you’re about to pocket another season of enough money to buy a vacation home in cash, but, hey, when the spirit of Katherine Heigl moves you, I guess.
Wu was pilloried for being ungrateful and insensitive to the thousands of struggling actors who would kill to book a job as successful and secure as FOTB. This is true, though anyone who gave the matter more thought could sense that there was likely more to it than that: It turns out that the show’s renewal meant she would have to drop out of another project that she was excited about.
She was obviously forced to deliver a statement explaining all this, assuring FOTB fans that she enjoys and appreciates the show but is no longer creatively challenged by it and was hoping that this was going to be her chance to happily move on. These are all fair feelings, which she could not have telegraphed in a more imbecilic way with her tweets. She ended the message by saying that she hopes her critics will forgive her and “believe women,” which is an absolutely outrageous thing to say.
Petulant behavior unleashes the floodgates for Twitter comedy, especially when it’s the opportunity to rain some schadenfreude down on a privileged celebrity. The ugly side effect of that is the blatant, gross misogyny that dripped from so much of that commentary, and continues to.
Listen, there have been several times these past few weeks, as broadcast networks decide which series they’re going to renew and which they’re going to cancel, that I’ve wanted to scream, “Fucking hell.” Constance, I get you, girl!
Cancelling Speechless, with a cast and creative team so passionate about the good the show does? Still no news on a second life for Netflix’s One Day at a Time? And, most especially, CBS renewing Bull, a middling-performing drama series rattled by scandal when one-time co-star Eliza Dushku revealed that she was paid off by CBS after complaining that star Michael Weatherly had sexually harassed her on set. Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, which co-produced the show, disavowed it and pulled out of any involvement. And still, this is a series that gets renewed?
Not “fucking hell,” CBS. It’s go to fucking hell.
I Want to Give Everyone Involved in Arthur a Hug
Arthur, the charming and celebrated PBS children’s show that has been on air for 22 seasons, made news this week when it aired an episode in which the main characters’ third-grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn, gets married to a man. “Mr. Ratburn is married, I still can’t believe it,” Arthur says. “Yep,” says his friend, Francine. “It’s a brand new world!” Truly.
There’s no overstating how heartening it is that PBS would, unsolicited, consider this scene, the normalization of same-sex marriage, valuable and necessary to include as part of a series that is indelible to its viewers’ early-childhood education.
There was backlash, as there always is when conservatives feel family values threatened by the horror of gay marriage. And right in front of their children! This is what it means to be on the right side of history. I don’t know why in the world a third-grade teacher invited his class to his wedding, but I’m glad that, in the world of Arthur, one did!
The Greatest Trailer of All-Time Is Here
The first trailer for Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland is here and if I told you I have watched it 600 times, you’d know I’m lying because I obviously watched it so many more. (You can watch it here.)
The Best Thing to Come Out of “The Bells”
Everything that happened Sunday on Game of Thrones was a mess. A stunningly shot mess, to the degree of which I don’t think there’s ever been a greater discrepancy between cinematography and storytelling on television. But a few things are true: Maisie Williams will win an Emmy for the episode, I don’t give a flying dragon who ends up on the Iron Throne anymore, and this is the funniest meme about GoT I’ve seen this year.
Wow, Suddenly We Love Lucifer
I did not even know that Netflix had rescued Lucifer from cancellation, but I am certain that is now my favorite show.
What to watch this week:
Fleabag: This show is perfect. Perfect! I am not over-selling, but just in case you should also know there is a very hot priest.
The Souvenir: There is another Swinton! Rejoice, be glad, see this movie.
Nailed It!: If any other reality competition contained even half this much joy, we’d be lucky.
Catch-22: Congratulations to all the substitute high school English teachers out there.
What to skip this week:
A Dog’s Journey: I am shocked—shocked!!!—that the film A Dog’s Journey is not good.
The Sun Is Also a Star: My beloved Nicholas Sparks genre is on life support, folks!