Sep 22, 2012
LA VIDA LOCA
As I watch all these new comedies, like New Girl, Ben & Kate etc. where they try to load (at least) one of the characters with explosives to the point when it hurts watching him/her, I miss Friends. Each of characters there had his/her main theme, as being geeky, or hippie, or sarcastic, or controlling, or silly or hot. Yet they all were very balanced, so normal people could actually relate to them. This approach seem to be working great in Modern Family as well; none of its characters you would try to avoid getting to an elevator with should you meet them IRL.
In an incredible book by Jon Ronson The Psychopath Test (recommend, btw) I've read that the modern audience, which mostly consists of people questioning their own normality on a daily basis, likes to watch crazies on TV, so that they have someone they can compare themselves to and say: "Well, I'm more sane than this guy". Ronson was referring to real people, but the guys-slightly-nuts are now leaving reality shows and interviews and conquering TV series with great enthusiasm.
I don't like crazies. I love taking layer after layer off the character and see who he is, how complex he is, what he stands for and how everything he does makes sense. Let me just say that by introducing abnormality as the latest trend (though I assume that a lot of this comes from reality shows), writers make their job so much easier. They don't have to worry too much on character's integrity now that they just can explain his actions and words with his ill mind. You do not have to provide a thorough motivation, background - nothing, just make him do something randomly stupid. Just look what they've done to Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory). It all started with him being geeky, very weird and genius, now he's just plain crazy and most of what he does is pretty random.
I understand that it's harder and harder to come up with new funny situations now that there are so many comedies out there, so to come up with something unique writers have to re-invent personalities. I only wish they would not make them so simple and so hyperbolic that it's just painful to watch.