Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Corpse Porn and Other Television

We don't watch much television, but my wife enjoys what I call corpse porn -- those television shows that use elaborate special effects to display bodies rendered into shocking debris. Her favorites are Bones, CSI, Law and Order SVU, and particularly, Criminal Minds. 

I call the final one "The Explaining Show," since much of the dialog is the cast all explaining to each other what each of them as experts should know already. That seems to be the writer's mechanism for driving the narrative forwarded for viewers who are not trained trackers of serial killers.

I don't like corpse porn, all those latex-glove wearing beautiful people digging about in gruesome murder leftovers, I see no entertainment. Conversely, my wife won't watch stuff like America's Funniest Videos or any of the sports bloopers shows, which I sometimes stumble across and stop to watch.. 

I like AFV. What can I say? You trip, stumble, fall face down into the cake you're carrying, and I'm going to laugh. It doesn't say much for my personality, I know. And my wife, fan of corpse born, cannot stand the idea of real people becoming bruised and battered as a result of their own ill judgment.  

Of course, if you look at it that way, my wife has a much better attitude. She indulges in fantasy, even if it is bodies grossly dismembered. On the other hand, I laugh at real people making fools of themselves, or perhaps being knocked upside the noggin.

I actually prefer popular comedies, or at least some of them. Big Bang, Modern Family, and one or two others wherein the narrative arc does not feature rampant casual sexual encounters—I'm looking at you Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother

If you observe one of those shows as person who loves to read and write, you can see the artful professionalism of the scripts. Most commonly, the better comedies (perhaps Seinfeld excepted) use a narrative arc that contains two stories. I find it fascinating that the writers are able to tell two complete stories in twenty-two minutes (give or take, considering titles, commercials, etc.), primarily in dialog. There are other formats, of course. Big Bang does it traditionally, being a reformatting of I Love Lucy. Modern Family regularly breaks the fourth wall, having one of the characters address the audience directly.

Silly, I know. At least, there's no corpse porn. 

And we do have one channel we can watch together, PBS, where that castle-located soap opera Downton Abbey occurs, but only until Antique Roadshow comes on, and she wanders off to put a corpse porn DVD into her computer.


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