I’ve been hearing about the series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” from multiple places for over a year now. I tried watching a couple episodes when I first heard of it, and hated it. I tried the other night, because they’re building up buzz because of a new season or something, and still hate it.
But wait. There are dozens of terrible TV shows on these days, and several more series that plenty of people love but just don’t work for me at all. And we’re living in a society, after all, that not only allows but encourages Dane Cook to keep making movies. So why single out this one series?
Because for a long time now, I’ve been bitching about how lame and uninspired it is to be “all edgy.” And all this time, I’d thought I was protesting against an abstract concept; I had no idea that there existed an actual physical manifestation of everything I hate about entertainment.
I’ve watched four episodes now, to give it a chance. The closest I ever came to laughing was when I started to notice the barest germ of a clever joke about Stockholm Syndrome, but that was quickly buried under attempts to over-tell the joke and a 5-minute-long sequence where one guy tricks another into smelling his fart. If the series somehow becomes the only surviving record of the early 21st century, I’m sure that future anthropologists will be able to detect that there was some kind of comedy present, but in the same sense that biologists can detect the remnants of vestigial legs in killer whales.
The series has no use for actual comedy, when it can just repeat “AIDS child abuse racism alcoholism homosexual panic” over and over again and have people applauding it for being so “irreverent.” It’s not evil, which is the heartbreaking part. It really really wants to be offensive, but it just comes across as appallingly lazy.
I’d be discouraged by the fact that so many people are going on about how hilarious it is, except for the fact that “Flight of the Conchords” is getting a ton of great buzz too, and it’s a genuinely hilarious show. So it’s not that the world has horrible taste and civilization is ending; it’s more than the world just isn’t all that discerning.