Thursday, January 06, 2005

The SGHC Phenomenon

I can't help but dissect television commercials, mostly because I think they are evil to the core and it's good to be vigilant. A huge percentage of them have what I call the Schlubby Guy/ Hot Chick Phenomenon. Slate has an article today about the same thing, but in sitcoms. Why a male viewer would identify is easy to spot:

they portray a fantasy life for couch potato male viewers—for a half-hour a week, you can be 300 pounds and still imagine yourself married to Jamie Gertz!

I always thought that the commercials were only aimed at men, but the article's theory of why a woman would relate is even more depressing:

In portraying husbands as lousy parents, marginal breadwinners, and repellant sexual partners, the fat-husband sitcoms convey a persecution fantasy that rises from the same swamp of resentments as these books do: "Yes, I'm supercompetent and I even look great, despite all the crap I have to deal with, and, yes, that's my husband over there, the fat, useless one scratching his nuts."



Blogger gwenda said...

Well, really, if you think about it, since most people are fat, they should both be fat. Just think about it -- schlubby guy could be joined by Former Homecoming Queen Now Plus Plus (not that there's anything wrong with that) and they could both look miserable together.

Wait. That's even more depressing. Reminds me why we ARE NOT those people.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

I think there should be a sitcom where the whole family is fat, and all of the people who come into their house to visit, you know, the friendly neighbors, the postman, the kids friends from school, everyone is fat. I would watch that show. There should also be a show where everyone is gay (no straight characters at all), and then also a show where everyone is old, no one under 60 allowed on camera, and maybe a show where everyone is Italian or Russian, only living in America, and none of them speak English. I would watch those shows too. The stuff on tv now is just so damned stupid. You could do such fun stuff with tv but no one does. I'm so bored with it.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Barb said...

Rosanne had a realistically paired couple, and it was a great show (at first. didn't they win the lottery by the end to explain all of her plastic surgery?) I think this new generation wants to *look* like it's realistic but act as a fantasy world, too. Or something. I don't actually know what I'm talking about since I haven't seen any of them.

Mr. Barzak: I love those ideas! It almost a given that t.v. (at least sitcoms) sucks. It could be a medium used for all kinds of good, but instead it sinks to the lowest common denominator. (I know it's an old complaint, but I was thinking the exact same thing the other day.) Then again I'm part of the problem, because I don't support quality shows that come along since I'm just convinced they will be cancelled. (The scars from My So Called Life go deep)

10:10 AM  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

I was violently upset when My So Called Life was cancelled. This summer before I had to leave to come to Japan I found a channel for teens that ran reruns of it around eleven at night, so I got to watch again, rehashing all the old drama with Jordan, Angela and all the rest. It still holds up as quality tv. *tear*

11:46 AM  
Blogger gwenda said...

You know, I have to say that if there was any _more_ good TV on, I don't know when I'd watch it. I'm fairly happy with the level of crap to quality that currently exists.

(Yeah, I know.)

At least we have two good sitcoms now: Scrubs and Arrested Development. Right?

1:16 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

Then again I'm part of the problem, because I don't support quality shows that come along since I'm just convinced they will be cancelled.How can we support quality shows if we don't have a Nielsen box? It seems like most letter-writing campaigns don't work, perhaps because they only start after the show has already been cancelled. Network execs are more interested in a show with broad appeal than a show that creates a small but devoted following, so it doesn't matter how much we love a show if we don't have a Nielsen box.

2:40 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

It is past time for the death of the Nielsen box. I don't know how you'd get around it, but it's a silly way to judge anything.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

I was thinking of the whole write in, spread-the-good-word kind of support (the kind Ms. Bond is so good at). I've always wanted a Neilsen box, though, or even just to know someone with one so I could go over to their house and play. Has anyone ever known someone with a Neilsen box?

8:03 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

I was talking with a guy -- perhaps I shouldn't name him -- who works for a cable TV channel. He said that he had a friend with a Nielsen box, and when he wanted to help out one of his channel's original series, he'd call his friend and ask him to tune it. Because of the way Nielsen extrapolates from a small sample, apparently even a single viewer can affect Nielsen ratings.

8:18 PM  
Blogger gwenda said...

It was Bill Gates, wasn't it?

Now I feel like there are people _getting to_ all the Nielsen box families. Perhaps they really hate "According to Jim: Miami" as much as the next person, but the money's just not as good as for, say, Gilmore Girls.

And hey, maybe there could be a Nielsen Family serial killer, trying to right the terrible injustice of idiots having been given the true idiot boxes... Or perhaps that could just be the plot of Doug Coupland's next novel. He needs something with a plot or at least a murder.

10:32 PM  

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