TV & Class
April 28, 2016 4:01 AM   Subscribe

TV's Dwindling Middle Class [SLNYT] Now on TV, no matter your actual job, almost everybody belongs to the same generic, vaguely upper-class class.

[note - from the NYT and discusses US TV shows, so is operating off the American understanding of what constitutes 'middle class', obviously]
posted by modernnomad (91 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
For the most part, TV cops, lawyers, bureaucrats and doctors inhabit the same kinds of toothsome residences and wear the same exquisitely tailored clothes, all showing off how fabulously art directors and costume designers earn a paycheck.

I've been on a French movie binge this year, and while I love the films, the universally glorious Paris apartments lived in by characters who don't appear to need to work is something of a pattern. If I could afford an apartment like that while spending all day sitting in cafes, I would be on the next flight to France.

I have never watched many sitcoms, but I did see the first season of Girls and I remember it as being very focused on work and money, though not at all on class, which is maybe part of the distinction the author is getting at.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:24 AM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


[ctrl +f] "Modern Family"

Bingo!
But the network’s marquee show, “Modern Family,” a masterful machine that makes highly polished sitcommery, has so little to do with most modern families that its claim of modernity often feels like a joke.
Modern Family is like the Seinfeld of TV-family sitcoms. It can be hilariously funny and well-written, but fundamentally it's a show about people who are all horrible, self-absorbed creatures of privilege. Unlike Seinfeld, it seems the audience is supposed to relate to their "mixed up" family hijinks and empathize with the show's sad attempts of foisting upper-middle class drama upon them: Claire's so busy taking over her father's closet business that she has to use her personal assistant to pack lunches! Cam and Mitchell can't balance being parents with keeping up with their insufferably superficial friends! Jay isn't getting the exclusive treatment at a club/restaurant/hotel/car dealership that he thinks is his God-given right!

At this point, I'm hoping the show ends exactly the same way that Seinfeld did with (almost) everyone sitting in a jail cell.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:33 AM on April 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


Mike and Molly, with multiple generations in one modest house qualifies as middle class, I suppose.
posted by jonmc at 4:34 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're allowed to show poor people if they are surrounded by layer upon layer of weight-jokes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:42 AM on April 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


I like old movies. I've watched a lot of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, a few Shirley Temple movies... I've always understood the displays of opulence and innocence these kinds of films to be a reaction to the Great Depression. There was a deman for escapism, wasn't there? It was precisely because people's real lives were so hard that their fantasies became so unachievably lovely, back then. Is it possible that this is the same?
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:52 AM on April 28, 2016 [22 favorites]


(Though the main thing I'm into on TV these days is "Underground", which is the complete, utter opposite of this trend in every way, albeit set in the past, and not a comedy. But really, you want to see more realistic suffering and confrontation with issues of class and race and previlege on TV? Watch Underground. But by God heed those "Viewer Discretion is advised" warnings and DON'T watch it with your kids.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:53 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I read that one of the objections Fox had to Matt Groening's pitch for The Simpsons was that nobody would want to watch a show about a lower/middle-class family; think about the very first episode, in which Homer attempts to win enough money to buy Christmas gifts at the dog track and winds up with a dog instead, and compare it to most of the families on TV these days.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:57 AM on April 28, 2016 [31 favorites]


Considering all of the complex issues going on in our economy and society, how come we aren't seeing literary fiction or serious film exploring them? There's a ton of great material out there, but once again, books and film are geared exclusively towards the upper classes. This is a problem that just doesn't inhabit TV. Even in music, musicians these days mostly come from the upper classes themselves. It's a great time to be upper class, I have to say.

If you're anything but, you're either a workhorse meant to work themselves to death by exhaustion, an office bee spending half their time looking busy while surfing the internet and deathly afraid they'll fall into the meat grinder of America's bottom floor, or a working class suicide. And none of these people have a voice anywhere, whether in art, entertainment, or politics.
posted by gehenna_lion at 5:02 AM on April 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


I don't think "Everybody Hates Chris" (2005-2009) gets nearly enough credit. That's a "modern era" show they could've cited that takes up the same themes of work and class as Roseanne from a different perspective, and with race mixed in as well. And it's really good. I guess no one watched it because it was on UPN and WB?
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:05 AM on April 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


"Raising Hope" and "Mom" both show working families struggling with precarity.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:14 AM on April 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


I know it ended its run as a televised dumpster fire, but it's good to see Roseanne still gets the credit it deserves for its early seasons. The first several seasons of that show were and continue to be the best depicition of a working class family TV has ever seen.

Someone could try to take up the reins for that show, but with a better handle on diversity, and they'd really have something special.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:14 AM on April 28, 2016 [18 favorites]


I could have sworn that Alan Sepinwall wrote something on this topic a few months ago, but I can't seem to find it. Maybe it was on one of his podcasts.

There are still a few shows out there that focus more on characters who have to work for a living. The article mentions "The Middle", and "Mike & Molly" was mentioned upthread. But there's also the criminally underwatched Jane the Virgin, which is most certainly a class-conscious show; and the even more obscure Rectify, where the characters are most certainly not living a life of privilege.

I'm sure there are at least a few others, but I do agree with the article that it's not really a large proportion of the shows that are out there. But "Jane" is on the CW, a network which critics are only now starting to take seriously; and "Rectify" is on the Sundance channel, which, did you even know that Sundance had a channel? So this content flies under the radar, and gets lost among the among the explosion of scripted content.

Part of me wonders whether the total number of shows that don't live in a privileged "classless" existence (now there's a phrase to unpack) might actually be about the same as it was 20 years ago; what we're seeing is not so much a decline in class-conscious shows as it is an explosion in the shows that don't examine privilege. It seems plausible that an increased demand for TV scripts could lead to an explosion in the shows that are easier for the "well-compensated creatures of the entertainment industry" (to borrow from the article) to write.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:15 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Personally, as a middle class person, the most frustrating insult to me on TV is on The Walking Dead, a show on which even the survivors of a zombie apocalypse infallibly have gorgeous marble and stainless steel kitchens.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:22 AM on April 28, 2016 [24 favorites]


I've always blamed TV for my ex's unrealistic and insatiable need for home improvements but I like Modern Family. I admit that verybody's white and everybody's rich in it but there's something meta about the final product.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:32 AM on April 28, 2016


50 shades of grating.
posted by Chitownfats at 5:35 AM on April 28, 2016


Bob's Burgers does the "depiction of working family" in a similar manner to how The Simpsons did in its early days.

There's open discussion of money trouble, the kids have to help out in the restaurant, there are stated consequences of just up and shutting the restaurant so they can run off and do an adventure, they live in a small apartment above the restaurant where the youngest child sleeps in what's technically a closet, etc.--with an in-universe fall back for "Why doesn't the landlord evict them for not paying rent?", with the landlord being a very eccentric rich guy voiced by Kevin Kline. (Along with my personal, but not-sure-if-ever-really-explicitly-stated explanation that, since we're in a beach town, we generally see the restaurant during the slow off-season, and not during the busy summer months where they'd make most of their profit for the year.)

The pilot plot even mirrored an early Simpsons episode--dad takes up job in the evenings and works himself to exhaustion to afford something for his pony-loving daughter for her birthday.
posted by damayanti at 5:39 AM on April 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


gehenna_lion, I don't know from tv, but poor people (along with sex crazed young people) have always been the bread and butter of American independent film, although none to my knowledge ever improved on Bertolt Brecht's 1930 film Kuhle Wampe.

On preview Take Shelter sprung to mind immediately as dealing with the financial crisis.
posted by Cassettevetes at 5:40 AM on April 28, 2016


(Oop, that was actually the sixth episode of the first season, rather than the pilot, which was of course, the "Human Flesh" episode.)
posted by damayanti at 5:41 AM on April 28, 2016


Is this same shift visible in US soap operas, I wonder? Here in Britain, our two leading soaps (EastEnders and Coronation Street) are still very much centred on the white working class*.

I'm not sure about current UK sitcoms, as the form's pretty moribund here right now. The only two sitcoms figuring in any British channel's Top Ten over the past week are Dad's Army (made 40 years ago) and The Big Bang Theory (a US import). Shameless comes to mind as a recent UK show which focused firmly on people who were struggling - though that was more a comedy drama than a sitcom per se - and I assume that focus applied equally to the US version of the show?

* In Britain, middle class means "not poor" rather than (as it seems to mean in America) "not rich".
posted by Paul Slade at 6:00 AM on April 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


US Soaps have always been aspirational rather than working class (or even middle class). That's been a major division between US and UK TV for decades. We Americans have always enjoyed watching the hijinks of terrible rich people rather than people like ourselves. It's pure escapism. Why be reminded that everyone you know has trouble making rent every month when you could spend an hour ooo-ing and awwing (and ooo-er-ing) over the lives of the rich and famous?
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:25 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]



Paul Slade: Correct. I haven't watched the UK version, but the US version of Shameless - which is great by the way - focuses on the white Gallagher family in Chicago.

They're in poverty. Several episodes focus on Fiona's efforts (looking for work) to pay the bills; having utilities shut off or threatened to be shut off occurs multiple times.

Each of the characters have aspects of their lives (alcoholism, a desire to lose his/her virginity before age 16, having fucked-up relationships) that are exacerbated and influenced by their economic and social circumstances.
posted by fizzix at 6:27 AM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


US Soaps have always been aspirational rather than working class (or even middle class). That's been a major division between US and UK TV for decades. We Americans have always enjoyed watching the hijinks of terrible rich people rather than people like ourselves. It's pure escapism. Why be reminded that everyone you know has trouble making rent every month when you could spend an hour ooo-ing and awwing (and ooo-er-ing) over the lives of the rich and famous?

Do Americans really naturally prefer this, or were they taught to prefer it? I have no idea, I'm honestly curious. Considering how much of our entertainment is designed to sell crap or teach ideology, I wouldn't be surprised. If Americans admitted the truth about their lives, maybe we'd get together and fight for things like, I don't know, a better quality of life for ourselves. I'll take that over empty escapism that blindly worships the rich and powerful any day. It's self-destructive.
posted by gehenna_lion at 6:32 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Anything on American television is the result of a metric shit tonne of market research, so I think it's safe to say there is a preference for hitherto existing television, but of course there's more than one way to read that -- it's a balance of diverse and competing interests.
posted by Cassettevetes at 6:40 AM on April 28, 2016


Do Americans really naturally prefer this, or were they taught to prefer it?

Temporarily embarrassed millionaires, part MDLXXVI.
posted by Etrigan at 6:41 AM on April 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


Anything on American television is the result of a metric shit tonne of market research, so I think it's safe to say there is a preference for hitherto existing television, but of course there's more than one way to read that -- it's a balance of diverse and competing interests.

Of course there's more than one way to read that. I'm genuinely interested in reading about the origins of American preference in entertainment ... say, if idolizing the wealthy and averting eyes from the reflection in the mirror has something to do with the quality of oxygen in the air from East to West Coasts.
posted by gehenna_lion at 6:44 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about this lately in regards to Supernatural, which is focused on two brothers from a blue-collar family raised on the road. Apart from the whole "Mom was killed by a demon when we were kids" thing, that lack of middle-class-and-above upbringing has been a part of the show since the beginning. I think the show did a really good job with it in the earlier seasons, and part of the brothers' personality was the way they alternately embraced (Dean) and rejected (Sam) their upbringing. You saw them scrounging in thrift stores for outfits and living out of crappy motels and building EMF detectors out of spare bits of stuff.

The best was when they would dress up in cheap suits and pretend to be FBI agents to get access to crime scenes. Aside from the natural unbelievability of the situation (You're telling me these two are federal agents? The shorter one with the attitude and the baby face, and the taller one with that mane of hair? Who both look about twenty-five, tops? Yeah, I don't think so.), I really like how they approached the "normal" families they had to deal with. Dean, in particular, wore his discomfort like one of those ill-fitting suits. There was something just off enough about him that really came through in the performance of the character. Sam, being more comfortable around middle-class mores and attitudes from his time away at college, usually had to take the lead to be the more "normal" one. And sure, part of it was their attitude toward civilians who didn't know about things like demons and monsters. But there was definitely a class element too, and it was so fascinating to watch.

One of my biggest disappointments was how they shifted away from that in more recent seasons. It's like, now that the brothers have found a home base of some kind, they're quasi-middle class. Now when they dress up as FBI agents, it's equally unbelievable but for entirely different reasons. Now it's like, "You're telling me these two federal agents can afford these custom-fitted suits? Yeah, I don't think so." I miss the bad motels and thrift store clothes and Dean's palpable discomfort with (and sometimes resentment toward) the people who lived the comfortable, innocent lives they couldn't have.

(Maybe they're still relying on people being too distracted by Sam's hair to worry about their outfits too much.)
posted by Salieri at 7:07 AM on April 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I read that one of the objections Fox had to Matt Groening's pitch for The Simpsons was that nobody would want to watch a show about a lower/middle-class family; think about the very first episode, in which Homer attempts to win enough money to buy Christmas gifts at the dog track and winds up with a dog instead, and compare it to most of the families on TV these days.

I was actually thinking about this recently, because I’ve been watching S1 of The Simpsons— and what’s ridiculous is that I remember they were portrayed as poor at the time the show aired, but watching them now they seem incredibly well off to me.

They have a house! The family is able to survive on one income, with three kids and two pets! There is sometimes money for beer! The child who wants books is able to have books! The dad is in a home where he isn’t actively abused! They go to the doctor when they are sick!

They struggle sometimes to pay for things, but in general, it has been a really startling realization that the “living close to the bone” of the 90s is now aspirational for many people I know. The idea that you can afford to get married and have kids is no longer “normal”, even for people with multiple degrees and jobs in prestigious fields.

Which is part of what makes the Hollywood idea of “normal” homes/cars/lives so obscene. I actively seek out shows where a character wears the same piece of clothing (that isn’t a uniform) more than once. Most shows, it never happens.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:13 AM on April 28, 2016 [40 favorites]


I actively seek out shows where a character wears the same piece of clothing (that isn’t a uniform) more than once. Most shows, it never happens.

Mad Men did this and it was awesome-- Tom and Lorenzo did a nice job tracking (1) the outfits that the main characters would wear/re-wear, and (2) noting when characters, particularly Peggy and Joan, would update/upgrade their wardrobes and hair after a promotion/raise.
posted by damayanti at 7:19 AM on April 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


empty escapism that blindly worships the rich and powerful any day. It's self-destructive.

boy somebody could write a real good B+ paper comparing the rhetoric of what's wrong with poor people's fantasies (they want to think about having money but in Real they do not have any) with what's wrong with teenage girls' fantasies (they want to sleep with glamorous vampires instead of awful teenage boys even though in Real no vampire would have them). point of both being you don't get to escape mentally without you escape physically, and it is very very important to keep your emotions congruent with your station in life lest you feel ok for a couple hours a week before the revolution comes and thus disrupt the schedule of fortune's great wheel.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:30 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


A while ago cracked did an article about how the poor aren't actually poor on TV and in movies. As middle class existence becomes even more precarious, I think we're seeing the shift up into the upper class.
posted by Hactar at 7:32 AM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm genuinely interested in reading about the origins of American preference in entertainment ... say, if idolizing the wealthy and averting eyes from the reflection in the mirror has something to do with the quality of oxygen in the air from East to West Coasts.

Yeah, that certainly seems like a good faith comment.
posted by malocchio at 7:46 AM on April 28, 2016


The Walking Dead, a show on which even the survivors of a zombie apocalypse infallibly have gorgeous marble and stainless steel kitchens.

And Subarus. Are they still doing that, by the way? I haven't watched the latest season. But honestly, who the hell looks at the zombie apocalypse and sees an opportunity for product placement??

Apparently Subaru.

And Gerber (knives, not baby food) but admittedly they're a very special case.
posted by Naberius at 7:49 AM on April 28, 2016


Hactar, I think your Cracked.com article is meatier than the NYT article in the FPP...
And no matter how dumb their decisions, no matter how costly the failure, they're in exactly the same spot the next week, as if there is no level you can fail to beyond, "struggling, but getting by." They never lose their homes, the bank doesn't seize their businesses, and they don't have to take a second job instead of sleeping. They have room to try things, take risks, and get hurt, because, after all, that's what defines all fictional protagonists: They act. They keep pushing and experimenting. That's what makes them heroes. But that, friends, is what a long stretch of real-life poverty can beat out of you.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think Malcolm in the Middle did a pretty good job of this? I seem to remember at least some of the kids sharing a room. Their house might have been 3 bedrooms.

And yeah, one of the most annoying plotlines for me in HIMYM is that Marshall is a lawyer with presumably a butt-ton of student loans, Lily is a public school teacher with a major credit card problem, and yet they magically have money to have 2 kids around 30? How are they not paying at least $1k a month towards their debt?
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:56 AM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm hesitant to mention it, because like virtually all half-hour Chuck Lorre sitcoms, it devolved quickly into ribald gag setups between favored characters, but CBS's Mom does actually take place at a semi-realistic level of poverty. Anna Faris's character loses her home for failure to pay rent, has to set up in a fleabag motel (which, it's mentioned aloud repeatedly, is its own kind of expensive), etc. It has a facile and stupid view of recovery that turned me off and yeah, over time, it's mostly become a vehicle for feeding trashy one liners to Faris and Alison Janney. So we tuned out. But for a while, we were able to enjoy it as one of the few shows in which people have trouble playing for things and sometimes do without.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:09 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nice how the only way it seems acceptable to go lower class is if it's animated.

One reason I like Netflix series like Hinterland or other non-US crap because... shit looks real.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:28 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


They have a house! The family is able to survive on one income, with three kids and two pets! There is sometimes money for beer! The child who wants books is able to have books! The dad is in a home where he isn’t actively abused! They go to the doctor when they are sick!

Frank Grimes: "A dream house, two cars, a beautiful wife, a son who owns a factory, fancy clothes, and (sniffs) lobsters for dinner! And do you deserve any of it? No!"
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:29 AM on April 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


So lately I have been trying to think of examples of good TV dads, with the requirement that they 1) actively parent their child(ren) without the mom's influence, and 2) are not overgrown children themselves whom the mom also has to parent (i.e., the "no buffoon" rule). And the only examples I could come up with were shows about families who struggle with money: Roseanne, Bob's Burgers, Raising Hope. I cannot think of a show with a demonstrably good dad that does not depict a family that also worries about money (maybe Fresh Off the Boat? They talk about money a lot, though I'm not sure they are struggling).

And perhaps even more troubling, why can I think of almost as many serial killer TV dads? (Dexter, The Fall).
posted by joan cusack the second at 8:42 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Until I was probably around the age when I was finishing college, it had never even occurred to me how many incorrect assumptions and beliefs about human beings and the world I was carrying around in my head as a direct result of having had more simulated social experiences from watching TV than real ones. And I had a fairly normal social life, but back in the 80s, the TV was always on. These images of ourselves we reflect on really matter, and yeah, most people don't actually get to lead lives anywhere close to as comfortably as frequently depicted on TV. TV and other forms of cheap entertainment are today's "opiate of the masses."
posted by saulgoodman at 8:50 AM on April 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


This sort of thing seriously bothers me. When we're bombarded with portrayals of (for instance) public-sector workers as comfortably upper-middle-class with cushy non-jobs, I think it's easy to see that there's a direct line to the prevailing anti-government sentiment in our federal & state legislatures that wants to contract out all of the public sector work and break public schools & universities. Sure, those legislators favor free-market capitalism as the cure to all ills, but there's an underlying assumption built on decades of unrealistic portrayal by the media. There's no empathy for public-sector workers who lose their pensions, stability, and benefits because we've seen those workers on TV and they were doing fine.

The Cracked article linked above gets to this:
"I honestly think this is what screws people up when they go out on their own: The sticker shock that comes with realizing how much time and energy it takes to live what TV says is an average lifestyle."
and then, later, about the way we see poverty as a result of the media:
"And this is my point- I can't help but think that the reason the rich and middle class find poverty so confounding is that they have that Hollywood version of poor people in mind: easygoing stoners and drunks with nice apartments and tons of free time, who have unlimited access to transportation and are held back only by an inability to make sound, long-term decisions. Why would you ever feel sorry for those people? Why would you ever help them? They should get off their asses and just go get a high-paying job writing greeting cards."
posted by aabbbiee at 8:51 AM on April 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


Philip on The Americans is an independently good dad. And while that family is ostensibly upper middle class they do depict other ways people were living too. And well that show is complicated...
posted by bleep at 8:57 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Malcolm in the Middle did a pretty good job of this? I seem to remember at least some of the kids sharing a room. Their house might have been 3 bedrooms.

I've been doing a sort of on-again off-again rewatch of MitM, and I agree. It might even be just two bedrooms - Reese, Malcolm, and Dewey all share one. And Hal and Lois are shown dealing with issues like "which bill do we pay this month" and "how can we afford Christmas gifts for the kids" with some regularity. (That said, it is a sitcom and money issues are sometimes ignored for the sake of humor; when Hal becomes obsessed with speed-walking, how he manages to afford his presumably expensive speed-walking gear is never brought up.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:58 AM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Better Call Saul (and Breaking Bad before it) is an obvious counterexample. Nothing upper-class about Jimmy's Suzuki Esteem with the mismatched door.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 9:00 AM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've actually written a lot about this before. It's nice to know someone else finally noticed. I actually saw the real start of this back with Friends, which began with young people in New York trying to organize their lives, living in obscenely huge apartments that they could unlikely actually afford while working at coffee shops. It isn't just how they live, either. People in movies/television used to look like people you might meet in your city, they didn't look outlandishly beautiful. I always list Seinfeld as the last big-name show to have normal looking cast members, until...

I started watching Trailer Park Boys.

Ricky wearing the same houndstooth shirt and track-pants for three seasons because he had no money.

Well, for as absurd as the show is, there's some very real and relateable about not being able to buy clothes due to lack of money.

In fact, despite the high-level absurdity, it has a lot of very, very real issues for people in poverty. Barb loses so much money running the park that she loses her house, has to move into a trailer, and resorts to stealing money from Corey and Trevor to buy back the park. It's also to be noted, every season ends with the main characters back in jail, a very real response to their absurd criminal behavior. Several characters (including Ricky) live in their cars for extended periods. All the characters are in incredibly bad health, either through obesity (Ricky) or sheer alcoholism (Julian), and some just look plain silly (Bubbles). In other words, they look more "normal" than actors in many other shows, including their American counterpart, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Even IASIP doesn't go as far as trailer park boys. While we are lead to believe characters are smelly or gross, they are all immaculately manicured and dressed in fashionable clothes and generally look good (Okay, maybe not Devito...). They never end up in jail for their antics. Frank is the money-man, so they never run out of money for their weird schemes. In the last season, they even stole Dennis' car out of police impound, all dressed as cops, and somehow avoid arrest. Even though we got one season where Mac gained a lot of weight, he immediately went back down to his "normal"/handsome weight after the season was over. Ricky, Randy, and others, on the other hand, are perpetually obese and unashamed.

I feel, in many ways, like TPB is a lucky fluke, and part of the reason it succeeded was because it was made in Canada. In America, we are unwilling to put "normal" looking people on television anymore. Even Steven Spielberg, whose early movies always stuck with me for how real they were (ignore the giant mechanical shark in Jaws and focus on the cast and their interactions and how they look.) has long gone the way of only having absolutely gorgeous people as their main characters, only in gorgeous settings.

See also: Idiocracy, which did not have beautiful people or beautiful places, and the distributor was unwilling to make a trailer for the movie, because they felt like they couldn't get people to watch such an ugly, terrible film. (This is referenced on the Wikipedia page for the film, but the relevant source is no longer online.)
posted by deadaluspark at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


That's an interesting comment on the parallel between IASIP and TPB. Although I'm a big fan of both shows, I never saw them as so similar until now. But both shows clearly have a penchant for putting their (unpleasant, misanthropic) characters in unlikely, terrible situations.

The "beautiful people" question is also a relevant one for American TV especially. I remember being jarred by watching British television for the first time (in contrast to American). Wait, they have unattractive people on TV? What is this witchery?
posted by theorique at 9:26 AM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


This has been an issue with TV since ...the start of TV? Working class characters only got popular in the 70s most.y due to the efforts of Norman Lear who was influenced by the working class sitcoms on UK TV, ro when FOX was starting out it made headlines for having working class families (The Simpsons, at least in the early days, where always talking about money and trying to get by, Bob's Burgers continues this tradition and is the one of the only current sitcom families that seems to acknowledge the existence e of things like rent and expenses)

I'm Kreider's essay on Eyes Wide Shut really opened my eyes for the first time that we're just so a immersed to seeing the lives of what are obviously very monied people on TV and movies and it doesn't really register anymore.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


It’s weird, Breaking Bad was such a huge cultural touchstone when it was running, but although its critical estimation probably hasn’t waned or anything, I feel like it just completely dropped off the collective radar. I thought that that show was a fairly interesting portrayal of contemporary middle-class life; the entire plot is basically a reductio ad absurdum of a family’s attempt to maintain their lifestyle in the face of the type of medical-financial fuckery the specter of which haunts anyone in the US who isn’t wealthy.
posted by threeants at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Working class characters only got popular in the 70s most.y due to the efforts of Norman Lear who was influenced by the working class sitcoms on UK TV

But at the expense of "rural" sitcoms, which were largely a different flavor of working-class.
posted by Etrigan at 9:32 AM on April 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Also, kids are watching less TV these days, and I think that's got something to do with it - there isn't a loud chorus from advertisers who exclaim 'What is this ridiculous programming you're selling? No one lives like this!' because all the people they want to advertise at live at least within aspirational distance of it. Everybody else (a division fast becoming what we call 'the majority') are watching youtube - give it time and someone like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon will wise up and do something different, and it will be wildly popular.

Or alternatively, there could just be a sea-change happening in entertainment tastes: we could be moving away from anything we'd recognize from the past 60 years of broadcast toward something completely different.

Either way, the last TV I watched that touched on my own personal zeitgeist was Battlestar Galactica.
posted by eclectist at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2016


Don't know why, but I feel like defending "Friends" here. So yes, it's basically the prime example of poor twenty-somethings living in an unrealistically nice apartment in a swanky part of town... But at least there's some kind of explanation offered, and isn't rent control how some New Yorkers in real life end up with places they couldn't otherwise afford? Plus try to shoot a TV show in the shoebox they would realistically be living in. I'm willing to suspend disbelief on that.

But my main point is that the NYT article lists Friends as one of a list of shows where characters "might have had jobs, but almost none had consequential careers." Which is ridiculous. Chandler starts out as a data entry drone, and ends up with some kind of middle management career he hates (sounds pretty realistic to me). Rachel decides to cut up her dad's credit cards, works at a coffee shop, moves on to a series of comically demeaning jobs selling clothes, and ends up in the fashion industry. Joey starts as a starving actor, gets a role in some kind of soap opera, spends the money he makes on ridiculous stuff, loses the role and his health insurance, etc. etc.

I'm not saying any of this is super-realistic, but all of those are central parts of the overall story. If anything, the show is touting a solidly middle class, American-dream infused, pay-your-dues-and-one-day kind of work ethic... And one where "making it" is not being rich and famous, but rather having a meaningful job and being able to make rent reliably.

I also remember a bunch of story lines about social aspects of having money or not... Like the poor part of the group getting tired of being dragged to restaurants they can't afford.

OK now I'm embarrassed that I remember so much about that show.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Personally, as a middle class person, the most frustrating insult to me on TV is on The Walking Dead, a show on which even the survivors of a zombie apocalypse infallibly have gorgeous marble and stainless steel kitchens.

Thats only been since they found a refuge in Alexandria, which was built as a high end sustainable green subdivision right before the zombies. Of course they have high end homes in such a place (this is referenced in one episode where they quote the price of homes in the upper 800k or some such).

Previous episodes were in a prison, farm and random buildings. The characters have a wide variety of diverse backgrounds.

Current cars run the gamut and I think they are showing a pretty good 'devolution' of cars as the Apocalypse progresses. The latest group are a variety of large american sedans (panthers and caprices), older RVs and trucks. All of which have big, primitive V8 (or inline 6) engines that can run on degraded gas, not a lot of delicate electronics, and parts are likely to be available, and will keep running poorly long past when most cars will run at all.

Plus, if you are in such a scenario, with large amounts of crap just laying around aren't you more likely to try and find the best stuff you can? I mean the zombies aren't fighting you for their countertops, they don't care. And your fellow humans are more interested in you as food or using you to supply food (serfdom), so yeah get the best you can find if you have to fight for it anyway...
posted by bartonlong at 9:51 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


An interesting thing about Breaking Bad is that it's located in a place (Albuquerque) where it's pretty realistic for a middle-class teacher to have a nice suburban house and a couple of cars. When you look at the White family house (with pool), it doesn't stand out as obviously absurd for its location.

Contrast this with the New York apartments in (e.g.) Friends where supposedly "broke" young people are living, with enormous floor to ceiling windows and giant lofted spaces.

(Also: A 20 year old example from the movies is in Heat, when Eady and Neil are flirting in the bookstore cafe, and Eady, a graphic designer, refers to "renting a little house". When they are actually at her house, it turns out to be an enormous hillside place with balconies and an amazing view of LA. Some "little house".)
posted by theorique at 9:51 AM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Don't be embarrassed, kleinsteradikaleminderheit, those are all very good points about Friends, a show I only ever watched some of because my mom watched it sometimes while I was a teenager. Another argument that could likely be made in favor of Friends is also that its easier to film a sitcom in large, open areas, which allow your cast to interact with each other, in the large open area, and have the cast all facing the camera. There's a distinct possibility set design was the crux of why the apartments seemed so outlandishly huge and unrealistic.

I think my larger point was Seinfeld ended right as Friends was starting, Seinfeld being the last big cast with normal looking characters, and Friends being one of the first big casts with nothing but young, beautiful characters, which absolutely became the standard (in terms of "popular" television, anyway.).
posted by deadaluspark at 9:52 AM on April 28, 2016


one interesting thing about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is that pretty much everyone is either comically rich or comically poor.
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on April 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Thats only been since they found a refuge in Alexandria, which was built as a high end sustainable green subdivision right before the zombies. Of course they have high end homes in such a place (this is referenced in one episode where they quote the price of homes in the upper 800k or some such).

Right, and you could argue that they used those McMansion things ("starting in the low 800s, if there is such a thing") pretty effectively as contrast with the outside, and to reflect how clueless and protected the people living in them are.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 10:03 AM on April 28, 2016


one interesting thing about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is that pretty much everyone is either comically rich or comically poor.

Don't forget that the "normal" looking characters are comically ugly (Carol Kane).
posted by deadaluspark at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2016


Don't forget that the "normal" looking characters are comically ugly (Carol Kane).

What? Is this a joke?
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:10 AM on April 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


To me the interesting and possibly unrealistic thing about class on Friends is how Phoebe and Joey got added to the group. The Gellars and Rachel grew up together, and I think Ross and Chandler were college roommates. Despite their early-career money troubles, they're all from affluent backgrounds, it makes sense they'd all run in similar circles where they would meet each other.

So where did they pick up working-class Joey? And how did they meet Phoebe, whose backstory seems to be like something out of The Glass Castle?

In my experience as a 20-something in New York, a lot of kids who were socially middle or upper middle class were, by income, lower class. But the only place you'd get to be friends with someone who was socially lower or working class was at work, and none of the Friends careers ever overlapped that way.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


No, it's not. It's actually a big reason I gave up on the show. Kinda tired of Carol Kane being typecast as weird/strange/odd looking old lady.

I still think of her as she was in Annie Hall. I think she's gorgeous and Hollywood has shortlisted her for specific types of roles because she's not Hollywood pretty.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:12 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


An interesting thing about Breaking Bad is that it's located in a place (Albuquerque) where it's pretty realistic for a middle-class teacher to have a nice suburban house and a couple of cars. When you look at the White family house (with pool), it doesn't stand out as obviously absurd for its location.

Very true. We just bought a house in the same zip code. A three-bedroom, 2,000 square foot house in a perfectly nice neighborhood can be had for $200-250,000, especially if you don't mind stripping a little outdated wallpaper. (The pool thing always struck me as a little silly - pools are actually fairly uncommon here. The outdoor pool season is quite short.)
posted by antimony at 10:18 AM on April 28, 2016


(I was very impressed the middle aged construction worker character on UKS actually looked like a middle-aged construction worker from Queens)
posted by The Whelk at 10:19 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


pocketfullofrye - Pheobe is originally the one with the rent controlled apartment, and Joey starts out as Chandler's random roommate (I think after all of Chandler's non-working class options bail on him).
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 10:20 AM on April 28, 2016


Pheobe is originally the one with the rent controlled apartment, and Joey starts out as Chandler's random roommate (I think after all of Chandler's non-working class options bail on him).

Monica had the apartment. Phoebe and Joey each just answered random roommate-wanted ads.
posted by Etrigan at 10:24 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kinda tired of Carol Kane being typecast as weird/strange/odd looking old lady.

Wow, talk about opposite reactions-- I think she's amazingly beautiful on the show, and I honestly have not picked up on any implications that she isn't. She has more romantic partners than any of the other characters, and her spaghetti hair (that is also her cape) mesmerizes men!
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:24 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pheobe is originally the one with the rent controlled apartment

No, Phoebe lives with her grandmother in a completely different rent controlled apartment. The main rent controlled apartment was always in the name of Monica's grandmother, who moved to Florida.

The landlord played along, but threatened to expose the scam when Joey yelled at him for making Rachel cry (even though she deserved it).
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:26 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


A 20 year old example from the movies is in Heat, when Eady and Neil are flirting in the bookstore cafe, and Eady, a graphic designer, refers to "renting a little house". When they are actually at her house, it turns out to be an enormous hillside place with balconies and an amazing view of LA. Some "little house".

This is one of my favorite movies, so I feel obliged to nitpick: Isn't that Neil's house we see? You know, the one he paid for by thieving?
posted by neckro23 at 10:28 AM on April 28, 2016


Monica had the apartment. Phoebe and Joey each just answered random roommate-wanted ads.

Arrgh, you're right about Monica having the apartment. Joey shows up first when Chandler is looking for a roommate though. But maybe he already knew Phoebe? Because she apparently shows up for the first time in the same episode...
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 10:41 AM on April 28, 2016


Joey shows up first when Chandler is looking for a roommate though. But maybe he already knew Phoebe? Because she apparently shows up for the first time in the same episode...

She was in the process of moving out at that point.
posted by Etrigan at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2016


She has more romantic partners than any of the other characters, and her spaghetti hair (that is also her cape) mesmerizes men!

See, to me, that reads as "the joke." i.e. "this is so funny, she wears such awful outfits and wears crocs everywhere and smokes like a chimney and is generally disheveled, yet she's somehow able to attract lots of men." (Hi-larious I tell you. /s)

And I don't think it's a very funny joke. However, I just didn't think a whole lot of that show was very funny, despite some of it being quite funny.

See: Tituss Burgess as every cheesy gay stereotype ever. (The joke? But he's BLACK, so it's funny this time! He's not like all those other gay white men with exactly the same affectations! I'm Tina Fey and I wouldn't understand intersectionality if it was a brick being pounded into my face by Henry Rollins!)

Sorry, not trying to be a hater. Some of the stuff on that show really gets under my skin, however.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


OK I think we got it now.
(Way in the past) Phoebe answered an ad and moved in with Monica.
(In the past) Joey answered Chandler's ad and moved in with him after Chandler's first choice doesn't show up.
(First episode) Pheobe's about to move out, Rachel is about to move in with Monica. Ross is there because he's Monica's brother and Chandler's college roommate. Makes sense now, and even kind of explains the class thing.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 11:06 AM on April 28, 2016


This is one of my favorite movies, so I feel obliged to nitpick: Isn't that Neil's house we see? You know, the one he paid for by thieving?

That would make more sense. I'd better go watch Heat again!

I always made the assumption that his only residence was the near-empty ocean side apartment with the white interiors. But of course, it would make sense for a millionaire master thief to own multiple nice properties. (More sense than a broke graphic designer living in a giant Hollywood Hills mansion.)
posted by theorique at 11:07 AM on April 28, 2016


OK I think we got it now.
(Way in the past) Phoebe answered an ad and moved in with Monica.
(In the past) Joey answered Chandler's ad and moved in with him after Chandler's first choice doesn't show up.
(First episode) Pheobe's about to move out, Rachel is about to move in with Monica. Ross is there because he's Monica's brother and Chandler's college roommate. Makes sense now, and even kind of explains the class thing.


Phoebe moved out in the (In the past) part. Monica was alone in the apartment between that and the first episode.
posted by Etrigan at 11:11 AM on April 28, 2016


(Way in the past) Phoebe answered an ad and moved in with Monica.

(Even further in the past) Phoebe (age 13?) mugged Ross outside a comic book store and stole his backpack containing his comic "Science Boy"
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:22 AM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Tituss Burgess as every cheesy gay stereotype ever.

I think this is pretty unfair to Tituss Burgess and the role he helped create.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:41 AM on April 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Something else I forgot to mention that applies:

When nearly every show is somehow set only in New York City or Los Angeles, two cities with some of the highest cost of living in the country (and co-incidentally, the places where TV shows and films are generally made. Huh.), how the hell are we supposed to expect stories about non-affluent people?

One of the common themes for the shows about non-affluent people in this thread tends to be their setting: Anywhere but NYC or LA. (Albuquerque, Springfield, Seymour's Bay [unofficial name, Bob's Burgers], Philadelphia, Nova Scotia, "the Tri-County Area" [MitM], etc.)

And Potomac Avenue, I did not intend to slight Tituss Burgess, but I can't shake how his character makes me feel. I don't intend to say that everyone feels that way or should feel that way.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:11 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of the common themes for the shows about non-affluent people in this thread tends to be their setting: Anywhere but NYC or LA. (Albuquerque, Springfield, Seymour's Bay [unofficial name, Bob's Burgers], Philadelphia, Nova Scotia, "the Tri-County Area" [MitM], etc.)

And Harlan County, to add Justified as another counterexample.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 12:19 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


We call Modern Family "Interior Design Porn"
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:24 PM on April 28, 2016


I think this is pretty unfair to Tituss Burgess and the role he helped create.

A lot iof younger gay men, me including, find Titus to be a liberating character cause there is SO MUCH PRESSURE to conform to the white hardbidy Masc4Masc ideal. The midern gay stereotype is a hyper masculine dudebro on low level steroids who'd be embarrassed to admit they're into traditionally queeny things. Gay comics talk abiut this a lot, how we all had tto become nice white people with kids before the country woukd give us equal rights .

how many dating or hookup profile start wirh "NO FATS NO FEMMES", witb the unspoken "no nonwhites either" ? Too many. Titus is everything we're told notvto be, fat, queeny, aging and not white middle-class socialised, nor is he s helpful eunuch without his own story. Also he's kind of mean! Titus is closer to my actual gay male friends than a platoon of white professionals in khaki who insist they're NORMAL and not some tap dancing FREAK like lthose otber guys who can't perform masculinity correctly.
posted by The Whelk at 12:38 PM on April 28, 2016 [19 favorites]


The way they do class on Jane the Virgin is weird, though. I know we're told Jane's financial situation is precarious, but it never seems real -- her father is wealthy, her son's father is staggeringly wealthy (and doesn't pay child support I guess), she quits jobs with fairly little concern. I like the show, but I don't think it's a good example of covering class on tv.

I agree that Shameless and Mom feel like they cover more precarious financial ground.
posted by jeather at 12:43 PM on April 28, 2016


A lot iof younger gay men, me including, find Titus to be a liberating character cause there is SO MUCH PRESSURE to conform to the white hardbidy Masc4Masc ideal.

The reason I'm so happy for the Titus-Mikey relationship is that it so completely fucks with the of-your-own-kind archetype for gay relationships. Titus is a big sissy. So? When ALL we see of TV gayness is not that, like it used to be for fucking forever, we don't have to run from the fact that some people are actually sissies, and that's okay. Erasing sissies in the aspiration to gay mainstreaminess is as objectionable as it was to leave out everyone else for so many years, and moreso, because when the hammer came down at Stonewall, it sure as hell wasn't Marlboro Men and golden mean Acceptable Gays™ who threw down.
posted by sonascope at 1:19 PM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Even IASIP doesn't go as far as trailer park boys. While we are lead to believe characters are smelly or gross, they are all immaculately manicured and dressed in fashionable clothes and generally look good

No lie, I spent the better part of a year toying with whether to post an AskMe about this, because I was really curious about whether it was possible to ascribe SES to the It's Always Sunny characters. I mean, Frank is rich (the "money-man," as you say) but he lives in literal squalor with Charlie. Dee has her own well-kept apartment and car, but is the only one (I think) who isn't part-owner of the bar and doesn't seem to have any other income. Dennis and Mac are co-owners of the bar but Dennis is consumed with upper-middle class sociopathic affectations and Mac never seemed to turn his back on his working-class mannerisms. There was some interesting contrast when Charlie's middle-class happy-homemaker mom and Mac's hard-living mother moved in together, but it's been a few years since I've watched it and I don't know what's become of them all.
posted by psoas at 1:45 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Modern Family is at least fairly up-front about it: Jay is clearly presented as rich and they've explicitly said he, for example, gave both Claire and Mitch the money to buy their houses. I think it wants to play it both ways a bit, but "in-universe" they are clearly a rich extended family (like a more-likeable Arrested Development, exactly the kind of thing AD joked about in Season 3).
posted by thefoxgod at 1:45 PM on April 28, 2016


some people are actually sissies, and that's okay

I'm going to try to avoid being all This Thread Is Now About Orphan Black* but one of the remarkable things about that show is that not only is Felix a sissy (and a prostitute, sometimes) and even kind of a snot, but he's also the most level-headed, sympathetic, and beloved character in the cast.

* ...but can I just say how great it is that we get the range of street-hustler Sarah to suburban middle-class Alison to funky grad-student Cosima to young-professional Beth to haughty well-to-do executive Rachel, all from the same actress, and all believably so?
posted by psoas at 1:53 PM on April 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


When nearly every show is somehow set only in New York City or Los Angeles, two cities with some of the highest cost of living in the country (and co-incidentally, the places where TV shows and films are generally made. Huh.), how the hell are we supposed to expect stories about non-affluent people?

Well, this doesn't necessarily follow. LA is full of non-affluent people (even in the entertainment biz!). I mean, obviously the vast majority of people here are not affluent, which is why it ranks even lower in "affordability" than say San Francisco (which also has plenty of people who are not affluent, just a slightly better ratio). Of course, those stories will be less aspirational/fun, so they're a different type of viewing I guess.
posted by thefoxgod at 2:21 PM on April 28, 2016


I'm hardly an authority on television history, but I thought there were a lot of working-class people in early sitcoms like The Honeymooners and The Goldbergs.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:41 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


You're allowed to show poor people if they are surrounded by layer upon layer of weight-jokes.

I think fat-shaming is (barely) submerged classism in the first place. This is a hypothesis, but (1) there's an increasing amount of research suggesting that economic and other stress on a mother and grandmother is correlated with (I summarize, badly) built-in stress responses in descendants that make it very hard to lose weight. (2) Thirty and more years ago, seems to me fiction made fun of fat characters for being fat, but the characters were normally varied in other ways: Etta Candy, Anne of Green Gables' friend Diana, Nero Wolfe; (3) what could be more of a relief under economic precarity, for someone who feels like they're on the proverbial lifeboat, than a class marker described as personal virtue? It's like the Victorians fetish for narrow hands and feet, but even more effective if it survives several generations.
posted by clew at 2:47 PM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Do Americans really naturally prefer this, or were they taught to prefer it?"

Personally I get my gritty narratives from books and I prefer my TV (and movies) escapist. My personal escapist preferences tend towards historical costume dramas and SFF extravaganzas rather than rich-people-soap-opera stuff like Revenge or Dynasty. But I freely admit I prefer my TV a bit glossy and a bit removed from real life -- sometimes I watch a half-hour sitcom where the situation is just a little too real and too uncomfortable for me to enjoy.

I cannot generalize to my fellow Americans, but TV is definitely not a medium where I'm super-comfortable with gritty realism. I don't know how much of that is the immediacy of the visual, and how much of that is that I've always used it for escapism (and novels or non-fiction books or real life for realism) and so that's how I prefer it.

And no, I haven't watched The Wire or Breaking Bad and while I used to watch procedurals, since I became a working adult I basically can't do crime procedurals or hospital shows anymore, with a small handful of exceptions. I watched Coronation Street for a while and it just kind of stressed me out! On the other hand, Call the Midwife is fine, even when it does gritty realism and/or emotionally upsetting stories, because it's historical; Game of Thrones likewise fine even when horrifying because it's an imaginary world.

I actually like sitcoms a lot, partly because they're escapist and not too demanding, and I think you can do a lot of very clever things within the traditional form (sort of like a sonnet or a haiku -- it's constraining, but it brings out artistry within those constraints). But sometimes when the plots get a little too real or things aren't quite glossy enough, I have to nope out.

Interestingly Roseanne was hard for me to watch in the 90s because it was too immediate; now it's old enough (I guess) that I can enjoy the shit out of it. I imagine if I wait long enough I'll be able to watch Breaking Bad because it'll achieve historical status.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:48 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think fat-shaming is (barely) submerged classism in the first place.

It's also an area in which both conservatives and liberal/progressive folks will freely indulge without the least worry that they're being unbelievable assholes, in part because the former do it because being shitty bullies is part of their Randian je ne sais quoi and the latter do it because they believe themselves to be great and noble advocates for healthy living and are therefore allowed to say stupid things as rebels in service to the one true way (see also: humorous ironic racism).

Unites us all together in bipartisan assholier-than-thou tut-tuttery! A triumph, really.
posted by sonascope at 2:55 PM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is one of my favorite movies, so I feel obliged to nitpick: Isn't that Neil's house we see? You know, the one he paid for by thieving?

That would make more sense. I'd better go watch Heat again!


No, Neil has the house right on the sand that's probably in Carbon Beach or Malibu Colony or something.

Ok, I looked it up. Neil's house is on Colony Dr in Malibu. Based on the shot where Neil chases Eady down the hill, she lives in the Palisades.
posted by sideshow at 3:43 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just finished watching The Ranch on Netflix, and while I wasn't all that impressed with it as a comedy, damned if it wasn't one of the few good dramatic portrayals I've seen in recent years of rural life and the stress and gamble of farming/ranching.
posted by northernish at 9:35 PM on April 28, 2016


TV questions like "How can Character X afford to live in that massive mid-town apartment?" or "Where does she get the money for all those designer clothes?" belong to a distinct academic discipline which I call Sitcom Economics. It's on the same syllabus as the Cartoon Physics course which explains why Wile E. Coyote is never subject to gravity till he looks down. Neither discipline is rooted in anything remotely resembling the real world.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:23 AM on April 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


« Older An endless fount of fanfic   |   ‘I wonder if I am not talking yet again about... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments