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December 9, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | December 9, 2008 |

Growing up, my two favorite magazines were Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, the former of which inspired me to go into journalism (mostly via Hunter Thompson), and the latter of which I’ve been a subscriber of going on 15 years. Both magazines are fairly awful now. I canceled my subscription to Rolling Stone sometime in the mid-90s, and cancelled EW earlier this year, only to be drawn back in by a $10 per year subscription price, only to then realize that its standards have gotten even worse during my five-month hiatus. Clearly, their word count is less than 90 words per article now, and shrinking. I’m still not entirely certain why magazines have tackled the problem of a dwindling subscriber base by dumbing them down and adding more pictures. It’s not working, so you’d think that the trend would eventually reverse. Still, I don’t know how much my distaste for those two magazines (Rolling Stone is completely unreadable now, and not just because there’s nothing to read in it) is because of their deteriorating quality or how much is because I’m falling out of touch with their target demo, which is clearly brain-damaged 19-year-olds.

Which brings me to last week’s EW feature: “The 25 Smartest People in TV.” Some of the people clearly belonged on the list (Tina Fey was #2, Rachel Maddow was #14, J.J. Abrams #18, and Jon Stewart #24) but what annoyed me most about the list was EW’s insistence on equating intelligence with money-making prowess. I mean, come the fuck on: Seth MacFarlane at number one?! Not because his shows are the smartest on TV (hahahahahaha …. Oof, my spleen), but because he’s the highest paid writer on TV.

Anyway, in celebration of EW’s shit-trawling mediocrity, here’s my list of the five most retarded people in television. And by “retarded,” I mean creatively nil and/or responsible for the stupidest shit on your wee-little tube.

5. Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn: Who says the television sitcom is dead? Two of November’s top 10 shows among 18-49 year olds were written and produced by this retarded duo: “Two and a Half Men” and “Big Bang Theory.” Have you ever watched these two shows? Have you ever felt your brain ooze out your ears and form a puddle on your shoulders? The sensation is about the same. These two men are responsible for Charlie Sheen being the most popular sitcom actor in television right now. They also gave Johnny Galecki a second chance at life to suck in front of a large television audience.

4. Paul Haggis: I just think it’s great that, after producing three terrible television shows in the 90s, none of which got full season orders (“Michael Hayes,” “EZ Streets,” and “Due South,”) that we get to pick on Haggis again in the television world. He created the very short-lived, very awful “Black Donnelly’s” two years ago, which took “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’s” timeslot and managed to drag the ratings down even further. And now he’s back with a television version of “Crash,” which applies the Haggis credo, as described by The Boozehound: “It’s no fun unless you’re reinforcing offensive stereotypes while at the same time using ludicrously broad and ineffectual narrative devices to defeat them, like a deranged white knight with your helmet on backwards.”

3. Seth MacFarlane: He may be the highest paid writer on television, but that sure as hell doesn’t make him smart. He is smart enough to convince network executives to let him create the exact same episode of “Family Guy” over and over with small variations on the incest jokes, and then persuade them to let him make the same show with different characters and a different setting, call it “American Dad,” and tell everyone it’s a satire. And, in 2009, he’s got a new animated sitcom, “Cleveland,” which will no doubt be the same show again, only with black characters and a few more black stereotypes. Can’t wait! However, convincing someone to allow you to make the same bad show over and over again doesn’t make you smart, it just makes you slightly less retarded than the Fox executives who greenlit your shows. This guy has basically taken “South Park” and “The Simpsons,” stripped them completely of merit, and anally regurgitated them onto your television.

2. Tyler Perry: Here’s another jack-ass that actually made EW’s list of smartest people in television. Why? Because he took that special brand of blunt-force stupidity that’s made him popular on screen and stage and brought it into our homes. “House of Payne” is spectacularly unfunny, and makes the stereotypical humor on “According to Jim” seem downright Swiftian. How bad is “House of Payne”? USA Today, which had its critical facilities surgically removed at birth, called it “one of the worst sitcoms of the modern era.”That’s like Roseanne Barr calling Rosie O’Donnell an overweight has-been. It may be true, too; iMDB doesn’t track bottom user-rated television shows, but the worst-rated movies are Identity Crisis and Disaster Movie, which hold 1.2 and 1.3 ratings out of ten. “House of Payne,” holds a 1.1. rating. “House of Payne” is worse than Disaster Movie. But, Disaster Movie made plenty of money, and so does “House of Payne.” Enough, in fact, that Perry has a second show in the works, based on his horrendous movie, Meet the Browns. Also, Perry has done everything in his power to avoid working with union writers, which not only makes him retarded, but cheap, too.

1. The Network Heads of Programming: All four of the major networks already have a revolving door when it comes to Network Programmers, so I won’t bother to name them all. But they must be the dumbest rich people in America. They are beyond incompetent. Put aside the fact that they frequently cancel the higher quality programs, like “Pushing Daisies” and “Arrested Development ” — those were more casualties of low ratings (and the depth of idiocy among the television-watching audience) than they were the faults of impatient network programmers. But look at this year’s fall schedule: There have been two hits: “The Mentalist” and “Fringe,” and both of those, so far, are only moderate hits. There are zero “Lost”s or “Heroes” this season. Nor were there any last season. The networks are in as big a state of crisis as our economy — not since ABC gave us “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Desperate Housewives,” has there been any network that’s created two or more new top-rated shows in a season. “The Mentalist” is the only new show among the top ten. The other nine are at least four years old. In last week’s top 20, only one other show besides “The Mentalist” came from the last two years: “Samantha Who?” (People watch that?) And of the 20 top shows in the 2007-2008 season, not a single one actually debuted in 2007. The networks are beating the same shows into the ground with decreasing dividends. Water cooler shows are disappearing. Hell, they’re gone. And what are network programmers doing? Scheduling more procedurals, more lawyer shows, and more cop shows. And if that’s not bad enough, NBC completely threw in the towel, programming five nights of Jay Leno in primetime. Thanks for nothing, jackasses.

A Seriously Random List XXXV / Dustin Rowles

Lists | December 9, 2008 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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