I changed my mind. This is no longer my slice of the American Dream pie. It is now just a place for me to bitch.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The ultimate guide to "take one for the team" shows

This was a particularly funny moment in Bill Simmons' latest mailbag.

Q: On the "Take one for the team" shows we have to watch with our significant others -- I get stuck with every one of the ones you mentioned. I swear my girlfriend and I have made all five of your points about "The Bachelor" to each other. I actually started enjoying "How I Met Your Mother," too, because I had to watch it before taking over the TV for three hours for "MNF" (plus Robin is really hot). Any chance of ranking the best "Take one for the team" shows that guys surprisingly wind up enjoying?-- Denis Egilmez, West Palm Beach, Fla.

SG: I'm going to do one better and unveil the "Take One for the Team" TV Show Hall of Fame.
Five ground rules here:

A. They have to be shows that, back in the day, you never would have never watched with a group of male friends under any circumstances.

B. They have to be shows you secretly enjoy.

C. Your spouse or girlfriend has to like the show at least twice as much as you.

D. The show needs to feature at least one smoking-hot female, which was the real reason you were putting up with the show (only your lady didn't realize it).

E. You have to feel like you're gaining some sort of "Now she can't give me crap about watching football for the last 11 hours" leverage from the whole thing.

Also, the George Costanza Corollary applies here. Remember the "Seinfeld" episode when George proposed to his girlfriend because he thought Jerry was going to get engaged, only Jerry called his relationship off, so poor George was stuck with a new fiancée, and the show ended with them watching the despicable "Mad About You" episode, with her smiling happily and George looking like he wanted to hang himself? In those situations, you're not taking one for the team ... you're just plain whipped. For instance, if you watch "Will and Grace" under any circumstance other than, "I cheated on my lady a few weeks ago and this is how far I will go to get her back," you need to seriously reevaluate your life.

Here's the "Take One For the Team" Hall of Fame (in no particular order):

"Party of Five" -- The Babe Ruth of this list with Neve Campbell and Jennifer Love Hewitt in their primes, as well as the pantheon-level "Bailey's drinking" story line (which featured the intervention episode by which all other intervention episodes should be measured); the fun-to-mock Charlie character ("I have cancer, Bailey! I have cancer! OK? I'm sorry if I can't drive you to the airport! I have cancer!"); little Claudia's disturbing emergence into an attractive teenager with boobs; and the never-ending comedy of little Owen (who had the Dom Capers face going 24/7). This was a great show. And I would never, ever have watched it in a room full of guys.

"My So-Called Life" -- Claire Danes made it watchable. Plus, it was always fun to make short jokes about Jared Leto just to get reactions during the show.

"Friends" -- I'm not including the first two seasons here, when the show was actually funny and featured a beefier Jennifer Aniston at her absolute apex (yes, she had one). I'm talking about the stretch starting with the excruciating episode in which Ross confessed to Rachel that he cheated on her -- after that, there was no going back, culminating in the writers' neutering Chandler and turning Ross into a walking apocalypse. I will never understand why they chose to declaw the males on this show instead of making them like real guys. Even worse, since the females watching thought these were real guys, they invariably expected us to act like Ross and Chandler. This show makes me angry. Let's move on.

"Grey's Anatomy" -- Just a superb show from top to bottom. But it is what it is: A one-hour chick flick every week. There isn't a single male character on this show that I would ever hang out with. At least "ER" had Clooney's character.

"The Gilmore Girls"/"Felicity"/"Dawson's Creek" -- Ladies, if you thought we were watching these shows for any reason other than Lauren Graham/Keri Russell/Katie Holmes, you're kidding yourselves. Come on. These shows all sucked.

"The OC" (third season) -- Just a rough season all the way around. On the other hand, you could stick Mischa Barton and Rachel Bilson on a drama in which they play gift shop clerks in a Lowell, Mass., Holiday Inn and I would probably watch it every week.

"The Bachelor" -- When it's working correctly (and that's not often), the ultimate blend of sex appeal, craziness, cattiness and unintentional comedy. And now it's been taken to another level by the Flavor Flav show on VH1, in which my dream for "Black Bachelor" (mentioned many times in this space) has finally been realized.

(By the way, couldn't HBO do an R-rated version of "The Bachelor"? Is everyone at HBO asleep at the wheel? How have we not had an R-rated "Bachelor" and an R-rated "Real World" yet? Where is Showtime in all of this? Or Cinemax? Is it that hard to give guys what they want to see?)

The Winter Olympics -- The cutoff line here is male figure skating. If you're watching male figure skaters this week, and you didn't either (A) cheat on your lady recently or (B) mistakenly dump her and now you're trying to get her back, I'm not sure what to tell you. You should never watch a sport in which you wouldn't wear the clothes of the competitors. This is one of my rules in life.

"How I Met Your Mother" -- Has a chance to supplant "Party of Five" as the Babe Ruth of this list because it's genuinely funny at times, it's always well-structured, and it disguises itself perfectly as "a show for men and women" when it's really a show exclusively for women. For instance, what guy do you know would meet a beautiful girl at a wedding, agree not to make a move on her for the entire night, then stick to that agreement and allow her to walk away? Has this ever happened before? Ever? On the other hand, the TV broadcaster and Ted's new girlfriend rank alongside the Barton/Bilson combo. Outstanding work by this show. We'll see whether they end up neutering the guys like "Friends" did. I remain skeptical.

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