portlandia

It’s okay to be weird: Alternative content in television

By Dylan Kuzelka | Seeds Entertainment

Weird? Maybe. Bad? Not necessarily.

The influencing decisions on what gets produced for American television is a delicate dance between content quality and profit. Many TV producers it seems, must hate dancing, but you shouldn’t detest the ones who analyze this relation to create innovative content for the mere excuse you think their content is bizarre. Recently, a person tried to tell me alternative comedy shows, including “New Girl”, “Community”, and “Portlandia,” were bad simply because the person finds them to be weird. This same person watches reality shows and sitcoms on primetime TV. Is his or her opinion valid? Regardless of my stance on alliterative comedy, I say yes.

Reality shows such as “Teen Mom” or “Mob Wives” are leaders in the ever-growing cash cow genre that exploits our fixation with other people’s manic behavior. Although the of majority of people see the transparency and why these show aren’t enlightening, not as many see the decline in content value of prime time comedies. “Dads”, a show on Fox, and “Two and a Half Men” on CBS are obvious examples of TV executives marketing cheap production as wholesome comedy. They use slapstick circumstances, obvious body language, and laugh tracks to uncleverly and almost forcefully make you chuckle.

I’m not trying to expose greed and cheap production value, or belittle the intelligence of the audience. These shows are genius from the business side and sometimes you need meaningless white noise to relax after a long day. However, from the perspective of the viewer, every single person loves a TV show which exudes beautifully crafted film work and sophisticatedly cunning dialog. It’s why we buy iPhones regardless of the fact that they are ‘mainstream.’ We consume products of elegance and quality, but why do some people chose to overlook quirky comedy?

Logically, you cannot hate a show which implements insight and craftsmanship if you yourself try to be innovative and resourceful. “Portlandia,” leader in the quirky comedy sub genre, spoofs the idiosyncrasies of the modern ‘hipster’ and exaggerates uncommon personality types. The show’s particular type of satire can be hard to understand, so it makes sense that some people just don’t relate. People have preferences. Not watching a show that isn’t your brand of humor isn’t a problem.

The problem is, some who don’t find “Portlandia” humorous often jump to the outrageous conclusion that the show is overall horrible. The rhythmic cuts between angles and the artfully written irony in the dialogue is genius regardless of your preferences. The show “Community” on NBC has seen its fair share of criticisms that it’s too niche for prime time television because of its astute eccentricities and mannerisms. The difference in comedic delivery is vastly differing between shows like “Portlandia” and “Community” but one thing stays the same, the actual comedic content is sharp-witted and savvy.

The people who see themselves as intelligent yet continually suckle the tit of the networks who feed cheap garbage are the same people who spit on the artful competent entertainment that is sparingly piloted. You can’t stop the train of low-grade reality shows and sitcoms from being profitable, but don’t stamp out unconventional comedy television because you don’t understand it. Instead, take the time to appreciate it for what it is. A lot of times the weirdest ideas are also the most relatable.

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