… from having to endure one more hackneyed network sitcom.
I got a call last week from a company called “Audience Studies”, offering me the chance to win valuable non-cash prizes in exchange for giving my opinion on a new show. I thought to myself (as I often do), “I watch television. I like valuable non-cash prizes. My opinion is valuable. I’ll do it!”
The DVD arrived. We popped it in ye olde laptope.
And, for the next 15 minutes, sat through the most miserable train-wreck of a sitcom ever. Stop me if you’ve seen this one:
GUIDO: husband, mouth-breathing moron with excessive back hair whose only skills seems to be figuring out mathematically the most offensive and inane thing to say in any given situation, and then saying it. Think New Jersey Italian trashy, but with a bigger beer gut and less hair.
BETTY: wife, peppy, fashionable, and oh so quick with the witty one-liners. We assume that she married Guido in a fit of youthful rebellion, and has been sticking it out for the last 16 years for the sake of the kids.
GREG: best friend of Guido, single, constantly getting Guido into trouble with Betty by suggesting horrible ideas, which Guido then acts out with simple-minded obedience. Serves as intellectual foil for Guido.
JILL: teenage daughter of Betty and Guido, more emotionally stable than either of them. (casting note: should be played by a short 26-year-old, unhealthily obsessed with her own cleavage)
RICKY: preteen son of Betty and Guido, socially awkward genius. With computers, and whatnot.
INT. BREAKFAST TABLE – MORNING
JILL: So dad, what did you get mom for her birthday today?
GUIDO: Same as always, a box of chocolates and a coupon for a free oil change.
GUIDO: What? No good?
JILL: No, dad. The art of gift giving, or Futakaido as the Japanese call it, involves selecting an object that suggests the thematic subtext of the relationship. It should say something about the giver, and something about the receiver, eliciting an unspoken acknowledgement of the relationship between them. (sticks chest out)
GUIDO: Right! That’s why it’s perfect – I know her car needs an oil change, and she likes chocolate!
GUIDO: I’ll never understand you broads!
RICKY: Here Dad (shows him laptop screen). I built a cross-indexed database of mom’s personal preferences, by price and seduction potential. I then hyper-texted a link to the internet shopping, so you can e-buy something for her.
GUIDO: Computers! (throws hands up)
INT. SEEDY BAR – MORNING
GUIDO: … so, anyways, I gots to get something for Betty for hers birthdays.
GREG: The oil-change didn’t work out?
GUIDO: Nah, Jill says I gotta get her something Japanese, like a Futa kaka, or whatever.
GREG: Jill said that? Huh. (Pause) Great set of cans on that kid.
(long pause – audience laughs awkwardly)
BARTENDER: Another round?
GUIDO: God yes.
GREG: So you need to get her something Japanese, that symbolizes the relationship, expressing something you like, and something she likes, and you need it by tonight?
GREG: I got it! Get her a …
GUIDO: Don’t say stripper!
GREG: … nevermind.
GUIDO: Can you for one minute stop thinking about cans and help me out here?
GREG: Sorry – yes. (pause, then abjectly) No.
GUIDO: Well, yous clearly ain’t gonna help much. I gotta get to work anyway.
BARTENDER: Here you are, gentlemen.
GUIDO: Can I get that to go?
INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING
GUIDO: Hey everybody, I’m home!
(Betty, Jill, Ricky enter)
BETTY: Hi sweety! How was work today?
GUIDO: It was good – that new receptionist is such a flirt. She’s hot too. Man, I’d love to just …
BETTY: Jill, it’s fine, honey. It’s been years since my sense of sexual identity was tied to your father’s interest. Now, my self-perception is constructed entirely from bits and pieces of sexual innuendo cast my way by anonymous gawkers in public places. Why do you think I wear these tight velour sweat-pants with the word “Juicy” on the butt whenever I run errands around town?
GUIDO: Haha! Broads!
(audience laughs, but in a pitiful self-loathing way)
RICKY: So, dad, what did you get Mom for her birthday?
GUIDO: Well, I did like you said, and got her something Japanese (reaches into pocket, pulls out two fistfuls of raw salmon fillet). It’s Sushi! Happy Birthday, baby.
BETTY, JILL, RICKY: Daaaaaaaad! (Jill sticks chest out)
GUIDO: (to camera) What’d I do?
We actually turned it off after the first 15 minutes, because we couldn’t stand to finish it. It was that awful. When they called back to ask my opinion on the show, I did the only honorable thing: I suggested they buy 3 seasons, and run it opposite Studio 60.
You can thank me when the fall line-up comes out.