Friday, May 26, 2023

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Comedy

Dan Bern - New American Language

Simply fantastic. "Maybe I love everyone...."

Many years ago, various people told me I just had to watch Arrested Development. When I started it, however, I didn't like it - Michael and his son George were having their lives destroyed by the terrible people in their family.

However, at some point, I realized the show was just a live-action cartoon. Seeing it that way allowed me to enjoy it. (Except for seasons 4 and 5 <sigh>)

The same is true for other shows. Barry is dark, but quite hilariously cartoonish (especially Hank - a character they seemingly introduced to ensure everyone knew the show was a cartoon). Silicon Valley is another excellent live-action cartoon.

Succession is another comedy*. Many of the characters are unwittingly funny, although Roman is consistently funny in everything. And it isn't just Anne and I who think this. From On Succession, Jeremy Strong Doesn't Get the Joke:

When I asked Strong about the rap that Kendall performs in Season 2, at a gala for his father—a top contender for Kendall’s most cringeworthy moment—he gave an unsmiling answer about Raskolnikov, referencing Kendall’s “monstrous pain.” 

Kieran Culkin told me, “After the first season, he said something to me like, ‘I’m worried that people might think that the show is a comedy.’ And I said, ‘I think the show is a comedy.’ He thought I was kidding.” 

Part of the appeal of “Succession” is its amalgam of drama and bone-dry satire. When I told Strong that I, too, thought of the show as a dark comedy, he looked at me with incomprehension and asked, “In the sense that, like, Chekhov is comedy?” No, I said, in the sense that it’s funny. “That’s exactly why we cast Jeremy in that role,” McKay told me. “Because he’s not playing it like a comedy. He’s playing it like he’s Hamlet.”

*Although I did not not not like s4e8. Too many bad memories. I think I should have stopped mid-way through season 4. Maybe the end will redeem it. No spoilers please, unless episodes 9 and 10 are even more painful.

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