In Which I Get Pissed Off by a Dumb TV Show
I am a Midwesterner. I was born here and I've always lived here. There's a decent chance I always will. The lazy dismissal of the citizens of "flyover country" is one way to quickly get on my bad side; in other words, if you use "Midwesterner" as shorthand for "ignorant and unimaginative" I will get ticked off. Not to say that we don't have a few of those folks here, sure. But I don't care where you live, you've got some of those folks living on your block. Don't try to pretend that sophistication is a regional attribute.
That's only one strike against last night's episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Aaron Sorkin, according to Wikipedia at least, was born in New York City, so perhaps he's never met anyone who admitted to being from the Midwest. I don't know. But from the moment that Tom mentioned that his parents were coming in from Columbus, Ohio for a visit, I was afraid there was badness coming. And Jesus Christ was there. Tom's mother goes out of her way to tell Simon, the show's only black cast member, how much she likes Halle Berry; his father doesn't give a crap about Tom's work and only expresses any emotion when he inexplicably blurts out a line about his younger son being in Afghanistan. Neither of Tom's parents has ever heard of Abbott and Costello or "Who's On First?" (for god's sake, if any of you reading this haven't heard of it, go watch this right now) and they are so dazed by the big city stage lights that they are unable to grasp their son's success.
Argh. I haven't spent much time in Columbus, but it's a big town. Three-quarters of a million people, nearly a quarter of whom are African-American. They have TV there. Cable TV, even. Lights, too. Fucking hell, Sorkin; seriously, are you smoking the crack again? I can't buy this as a character note, because although we're five episodes in, Tom is barely a character at this point, and I'd guess we won't be seeing his parents again. If you're trying to make some point about Middle America vs. Hollywood, then congratulations, you've just regurgitated every contemptuous dismissal of the audience as a bunch of clueless, reactionary rubes ever committed. The next time you get on a plane, try getting off somewhere that's not the coast. I'd offer to show you around, but I've got a problem with ignorant people who think they know a lot. They rub me wrong.
What with all the regional stereotyping, I hardly had the energy to get irritated with the mess Sorkin made of the race issues (apparently all black people come from the ghetto, and the "good" ones feel guilty for getting out of it) or his trademark civics-lesson-within-an-episode (the random appearance of a blacklisted sketch writer from the Sid Caesar era, held up as a mirror for us to better watch the continuing hagiography of Matt and Danny). Man. I just don't think I can watch this anymore.