6 Irritating Things Every Network TV Show Is Doing

This one might be the most cynical post I’ve written. I’m normally not this hateful, but to quote a defunct character whom I very much admired, “It seems to me that nearly all television today is complete trash.”

Desperately Trying To Write “That” Lead Character

I blame the writers of “House MD” for this one. It seems that people trying to pitch new TV shows today, and the producers who buy them, have been trying way too hard to imitate the elements of what made Gregory House memorable and likeable. I can just imagine 75% of writers pitching new pilots uttering the words “Oh but he's not your traditional main character! He’s not really a good guy at all!”

How many “really good guy at all” leads do we have on TV right now, anyway? Zero?

Trying really hard to blur the lines of good and evil since 2009.
I know that an interesting protagonist is a must for any TV show (or movie or almost anything) but there’s nothing interesting in making the same goddamn antihero a million times, then casting a talented actor to fill in the gaps of a character that’s basically just a gimmick. Take a guy or gal, make him to be the fucking best ever ever at a noble profession (cop, doctor, nurse, detective, psychologist), add a vague twist to his methods, some kind of forgiveable and endearing flaw (addiction, psychological disorder or issue), then cast an actor who is handsome/beautiful in a supposedly “non-Hollywood” way, and you get every protagonist in every moderately successful drama in network TV. Just make sure every retard TV critic makes a huge deal about the actor/actress’ performance.

What happened to the shows that were pitched through an interesting premise? God knows I loathe “Lost” but the pitch for the show was awesome. A good TV premise isn’t just a vaguely interesting main character doing his boring thing every day; it’s a main character put in an interesting situation and building from there. Good examples of “that” character are Walter White or in network TV, Temperance Brennan. They were effortlessly great lead characters (after the "Bones" writers got Brennan right, which was pretty quick).

Boring Character Dynamics? Add Lesbian!

Lesbians are the best way to revive an otherwise boring show. Or so TV writers think.

Not 'gay', mind you; lesbian. It has to be a lesbian woman who is a lesbian and likes other lesbian women. This one irritates the shit out of me for various reasons, mainly because when it’s done, the writers claim it’s a natural step for a character, something they had conceived for a while, and of course a sign of progressive thinking in Hollywood. Bullshit. Every single show that has done this, with the possible exception of “Buffy” (which to be fair did it 12 years ago and really well) obviously just wrote lesbianism in to instantly make a character—a side character; never the lead—just recognizable as the gay one who is going to have gay plotlines from now on. Her story had grown stale, but now she has a whole spectrum of possible (and obvious) storylines: homophobia, trouble marrying or adopting a baby, one co-worker or friend who isn’t accepting and is therefore villainized, etc.

The real problem though is that the bullshit “we’re progressive and accepting of homosexuals!” pretense is covering the fact that they just want to draw in an audience with the knowledge that dudes like seeing chicks kiss each other. God forbid a male character ever came out of the closet halfway through a show (I heard they were going to do that with Raj in “The Big Bang Theory” last season, but they only made a bunch of awkward gay jokes and moved on). It just doesn’t happen, ever. If there’s going to be a gay male character in network TV, he’s going to be gay from the beginning and also a huge queen—one who will basically be a flamboyant catty asshole with a high-pitched voice created exclusively for the female character’s entertainment, and to cement her appearance as ‘a modern woman’.

What’s even more confusing is how liberal people—and shockingly, gay people—seem to totally buy into this stereotype that does nothing to their cause. It’s just extremely easy to appeal to Tumblr.

Side note: did anyone see the new lesbian character in “Two & A Half Men”? Just when you thought the writing couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Behold as "The Big Bang Theory" explores Raj's sexuality.
Killing Characters Off = Good Writing

Ugh, I don’t know who is to blame here because it’s not necessarily something new, but it has blown up in the last 5 years in both TV and serial literature. It’s gotten to the point where fandoms retardedly argue about whose creator kills off more characters because that’s somehow a good thing. It’s so fucking absurd.

What’s worse, is that you get people like George R.R. Martin smugly reminding everyone that “no character is safe lol fear me” (even tough a lot of his characters are safe and he's cheaped out on a lot of deaths). It’s just an extremely cheap way to create tension and have your name become popular. Killing off a beloved character isn’t a sign of balls or good writing; it’s never a bad thing! Think about it: what’s the risk, exactly? No one ever stops watching a show because a beloved character died (even though everyone tweets that they will), and if there really is an awful backlash to a character’s death, 95% of the time, he can be brought back to life in one way or another. TV does this bullshit all the time. Happy endings are frowned upon even though they’ve become a rarity.

Why do writers insist on wanting to become known as “the writer who isn’t afraid to kill off characters”? It’s such a stupid way to make a name as an artist. It makes sense, though; nerds eat that shit up.

He's a good writer. Why does he want to be known as a Stark killer?
The worst offender here is probably Shonda Rhymes, who’s well known for killing off a lot of characters in her terrible show “Grey’s Anatomy”, most of them in the most convoluted and ridiculous accidents imaginable. Yes, some of them are real shockers (there were scenes in the sixth season finale which were pretty crazy), but what everyone seems to forget is that most of these characters aren’t dying because that’s where the story has to go—most die because either the actor wants to leave the series or because the character is just very unpopular.

Ugh, fuck this trend. I can think of only a handful of character deaths that are genuinely a logical step in the plot of a TV show (“The Body”, for instance). It’s even worse when they want to market their stupid show by saying “someone will die, guys! Tune in!”. “The Simpsons” did this. “Family Guy” did this (and fuck them for it). “Once Upon A Time” even had a hilariously stupid twitter campaign with the hashtag #OneWillDie.

It bothers me when writers concern themselves too much with being unpredictable; there is nothing special about it. If you read this sentence and then you found out I'm actually a grizzly bear you'd go "Wow I didn't see that coming!" that doesn't mean me being a grizzly bear is good writing (neither is this analogy, but I like bears). I saw this interview with the head writer for "The Black List" claiming how he never ever wants you to know where the show is going, and he wants to pull the rug from under you if you think you've figured it out. That's not a selling point, dude. Write better and you won't need to just surprise people to make your show work. You don't need talent to write a surprising twist. You don't need talent to write a character dying. Get over it.

Forced/Unnecessary “Special” Episodes

Another way network TV is just leagues below cable. This is a really cheap and desperate way to get viewers, if only for one or two episodes. I’m not talking about Christmas or Thanksgiving episodes since those are a TV staple and a-okay in my book. What I don’t understand is why suddenly everyone wants to have, say, a musical, even if it makes zero sense in the show’s context (I don’t want to use “Grey’s Anatomy” as an example again [though they recently also did a ‘zombie’ episode for some reason] but remember “Scrubs”? that was terrible). Or why do they insist to have “alternate reality” episodes (oh shit, “Grey’s Anatomy” did this too!), “dream” episodes, “special director” episodes, etc.

I just don’t like these bullshit gimmicks to fill episode slots in a TV show’s season (which to be fair is way too long). If your story needs filler so bad, it’s probably not very good, or is probably time to end it. Remember TV writers: just because it worked on “Buffy” doesn’t mean it will work on your show. “Buffy” is a goddamn anomaly.

Sexualize everything. Everything.
"Of course he can act! Look at those abs!"

Corollary: Always cast a pretty guy/gal; talent is a secondary concern.

There really aren’t many network TV shows without an all-gorgeous cast. It doesn’t matter what the profession is supposed to be, everyone has to be fucking gorgeous, especially the opposite sex of what the show’s intended target is supposed to be. “Grey’s Anatomy” supposed to be for women? Cast every ruggedly handsome person on Earth as the most brilliant doctor on his field. Women like firemen if they’re pretty, right? Okay, make “Chicago Fire” and make sure you cast the most handsome men you can find, and add a ridiculously hot lesbian for the guys.

Has anyone seen “The Following”? Don’t—it’s worse than you can possibly imagine. However, it’s hilarious how even the characters who are supposed to be intimidating thugs got cast with Abercrombie Models with perfect hair always forever.

And don’t get me started on sitcoms. “How I Met Your Mother” is great because it’s pretty much the only sitcom with an actual sense of humor. I have a theory that if it was shot differently and didn’t have a laugh track, it would work. Every other goddamn sitcom today, especially the other dreck on CBS, isn’t about jokes—it’s about sexual innuendo. Make a forced double entendre. Make a sex pun. Make a “Men are so horny lol!” comment—just make sure you never make an actual joke.

-Actual excerpt.
The worst offender by far is “2 Broke Girls”. Holy f*ck! I haven’t heard a single joke in what I’ve seen there. That piece of shit waste of neurons is just Kat Dennings talking about sucking dicks while her boobs flail uncontrollably; meanwhile, cardboardface tries to act and a whole fan of racist stereotypes (I like the Korean looking dude with the Chinese name and the Japanese accent) move in and out of a scene. I never thought there would be a show even more classless and poorly written than “Two & A Half Men” but they sure managed to top it. “Mom” is pretty fucking bad too. Look guys, saying the word “hymen” on TV isn’t a joke—no need for a laughtrack.

Ruining A Show’s Name For $$$

If a show is successful, you cannot end it for absolutely any reason. “Battlestar Gallactica” ended after 4 seasons and it still blows my mind. Hats off. The rest just has to keep going and going and going way, way past the point when it should have ended. Remember the last season of “That 70’s Show”? Goddamn! Half the cast was gone but they still needed to keep it going even when no one liked it anymore.

I mean, “How I Met Your Mother” should have ended a while ago, but at least the cast and the writing is intact. For me the worst dip in quality from one show was “Scrubs”. Did anyone see the “Med School” season where Cox and Turk are teachers in pre-med and there are all these new characters, including a one-dimensional blonde that’s the new JD and James Franco’s brother who has to be the single most obnoxious TV character of all time (next to this bitch from the same show)? It was just painful. It’s unwatchable.

I can count with one paw the number of TV shows that ran past 8 or 9 seasons and were still worth an erotic painting made with a warthog’s droppings. What, maybe “Friends”? That was okay in season 10, right? “How I Met Your Mother” in season 9 is long overdue to end but still completely watchable.

Poor guys. It's like the writers completely forgot how to write characters.

Oh but wait! They announced a spin-off called “How I Met Your Father”. Right. They couldn’t let go of such a profitable name without squeezing it for a bit more, even though the reason why that show was successful was actually the great cast and writing. It’s sad that no one seems to give a damn that their show would be remembered as something “that was once great”. Too bad.

I've kinda come to the realization that maybe I just don't like TV. I mean, I can name a bunch of flaws on, say, "Breaking Bad", and I have a hard time sitting myself down to finish it (I'm in season 5) and that is a incredible show! I'm crazy about "Game of Thrones" and I tend to have re-runs of sitcoms as white noise in my room while I work/exercise, but at least as far as network TV goes, it really really isn't my thing.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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