Kenneth Parcell

Channel Guide - Large

On shows like The Newsroom, Californication, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, the curmudgeon is exalted; intentionally unlikable folks populate the worlds of Girls and Mad Men; and a thoroughly bratty child holds court on Game of Thrones. Opportunists, narcissists, jerks, the morally bankrupt—these are some of people that we tune in to watch every week. I’d say all of this is a good thing, a sign that we’re living during a time where viewers are smart enough and open-minded enough to appreciate irony and satire and flawed, realistic characters. But sometimes, maybe not usually, or even often, people aren’t selfish, cold, or totally self-involved, and for the sake of diversity, it would be nice to see more shows with characters who are as optimistic as, say, Hank Moody is misanthropic. To make myself clear, I’m not saying that there aren’t enough family-oriented programs on TV today—that isn’t an issue that I’m even remotely concerned with. I’m not advocating wholesomeness or a return to the benign, Miller-Boyett characters of my ’90s, TGIF-centric youth (I cherish the Danny Tanners and Balki Bartokomouses of that era, but TV is a lot more interesting now and I think even cousin Larry would tend to agree with that). But cynicism and self-centeredness are the go-to traits for so many characters and even if that’s an authentic representation of the way people actually are, it’s kind of boring. I mean, do I really need to see it on my TV all the time if it’s already a […]

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