This post needs to be carefully constructed. You see, a lot of good and decent and intelligent people like the shows on Showtime. People I like. People’s who’s opinions I respect. And this is the problem… I don’t fucking get it. The shows come out with a bundle of praise. They’re edgy and adult minded. They have some great concepts that seem like they’d be right up my alley. And then… just awful. Ignoring the late 80’s with the fantastic “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” I have not enjoyed a single show they’ve produced. Including their recent string of critical favorites. In preparation to back up this assault, I’ve made an effort to watch as much of Showtime’s programming as I could.
Queer as Folk? Daring and a bad show. MTV’s Undressed had better storylines! The L Word? Same thing, genders reversed. Weeds? Their most popular show and the writing/setting is completely nonsensical. Not unbelievable, nonsensical. Fat Actess came out to loads of praise. Did any of those critics see it? I can’t believe they ever did. It was easily the worst show I have ever seen in my entire life. There was absolutely no improv skill on display and it was a waste of people’s time. There’s a reason the ratings dropped off at a colossal rate. Sleeper Cell? Fantastic idea. Poor execution. Huff? Love all the actors and they almost make it watchable, but I can’t believe someone is actually writing that show. The Tudors? Probably the best thing they’ve done but still I got bored with the taciturn plot it way too quickly. I went to film school and watched 4 hour movies about sand. I don’t get bored easily. Californication? Wholly masturbatory. It’s some writers fantasy for himself. Ridiculous. Dexter? The whole affair makes me sad because I love Michael C. Hall and his work on Six Feet Under. And Dexter is so poorly written and executed it makes me sad. Yet, somehow people love it.
There’s a simple problem that unites ever single one of these shows. In an effort (seemingly a Showtime mandate) to be as edgy as possible, they constantly undermine their own writing. Every character is a “teeth first” character meaning the first instinct is to respond with a snarky comment. That’s seriously the paradigm for every single episode of Weeds. Snarky Character A has something biting to less-snarky Character B who reacts doesn’t want to put up with it. THEN less-snarky Character B says something to stuck-up Character C, who is put-off, thus making character B realize how much they’re like Character A. This is every. Single. Scene. Let me repeat. EVERY. SINGLE. SCENE. It’s mind numbing. There’s absolutely no nuance. While Weeds is the worst offender, every single show features this kind of biting “teeth first” writing and character. The shows are littered with those tired talking, nihilistic jerks we’re supposed to find funny. They all also seem to be substance abusers. I can’t imagine what would have happened if someone like Tony Soprano ended up on that network (who by the way, was the most interesting and complicated character on television ever).
They’re also obsessed with cramming sex in there and it comes out completely trivial. Huff, Folk/L Word, The Tudors, and especially Californication all have these sexual trysts are just come off like some daydream fantasy of the writers. Which means THERE’S NO POINT. GAHHHHH I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT ANYMORE!