I’d not seen The Golden Girls before two weeks ago. My girlfriend, who is a comedy writer, made me put the first day it was on Hulu on my calendar. Even though I knew it was a good show, it was way better than I expected. It’s about three older women who live together in Florida. The plot of the first episode is that one of them is getting married and the other two may have to move out. That’s all. Simple. And even though they’re retired senior citizens, it’s barely about that. Each character has depth and a unique perspective.
I then started to wonder, could they make this show today?
I say this because I don’t think I Love Lucy could happen today. A white woman married to a middle class latino? YEAH RIGHT.
Maybe they’d make it a drama. I could see an episode where Ricky gets arrested and Lucy has to bail him out, but they don’t believe they’re married. There’d be another episode where Lucy’s family disapproves of Ricky. Then there’d be an episode with a racist neighbor, and so on and so forth.
That’s because every TV show today is about a condition called, “Not-30-Year-Old-Hot-White-Person-Itis.”
If you’re not a 30 year old hot white person, you have this condition. And you have to constantly talk about it.
Look at Big Bang Theory: they’re not hot, so they have to be SUPER nerdy and CONSTANTLY talk about being a NERD. In a show like How I Met Your Mother, where very few if any characters suffer from “Not-30-Year-Old-Hot-Person-Itis,” we have actual characters with depth. In Big Bang Theory, every character is basically an interchangeable nerd.
In the 80s we had The Cosby Show. Today it has to be called Blackish.
Margaret Cho starred in All-American Girl. Today we have Fresh Off The Boat.
1988: Roseanne. 2017: Mom.
Ricky in the aforementioned I Love Lucy has an accent, but he runs a club. In Modern Family, Sofia Vergara can barely speak even though the show has been on the air for 25 years.
That’s not to say that people who suffer from Not-30-Year-Old-Hot-White-Person-Itis shouldn’t talk about what it’s like to suffer from the syndrome, but aren’t non-white comedy writers tired of making being non-white their whole entire schtick? I just want to write funny stuff, and yes, I happen to be a little more tan and a little more first generation American.
I saw recently a pilot pitch competition, and the first line of every pitch had to be you comparing your original pilot to two other sitcoms. “It’s Seinfeld meets Cheers.” BARF! Imagine those two shows being compared to any of their predecessors. In fact, all the great shows are very original and allow for unique, diverse voices to truly live in their world. It’s almost as though now when Hollywood asks for a unique voice, it has to meet their prejudged definition of unique. “We want a Latino show, but the Latino that I, a rich white executive, is already thinking about.”
By doing this, creative momentum dies. Instead of an industry that thrives on new young talent, it just becomes children of rich creatives who have connections writing photocopies of minorities.
And what happens every time you photocopy a photocopy? It just keeps getting shittier and shittier until it looks like nothing at all.