5. Mike and Molly: There’s one reason to like this show, and ironically, it’s also why we hate this show: Melissa McCarthy. We hate that this show exists for Melissa McCarthy to be on. We hate that Melissa McCarthy would be on this show. We hate that Melissa McCarthy is so well known in some circles because of this show, because there are many, many reasons to love Melissa McCarthy. “Mike and Molly” isn’t one of them. “Mike and Molly” is to overweight people what “Big Bang Theory” is to nerds: Completely unrepresentative and, in some cases, insulting. Overweight people may crack wise about their weight on occasion, and they may have a keen sense of humor about it, but they do not spend their entire waking lives mocking both themselves and the overweight people around them. “Mike and Molly” wanted to be a sitcom about real people, and by “real,” they mean: Fat. But Mike and Molly aren’t real people; they are fat jokes writ large. They are insensitive caricatures who give license to the rest of America to make fun of overweight people. “They do it on ‘Mike and Molly’ all the time, and that show is really popular, so it must be OK, right?” No, asshole, and stop taking your cues from shitty CBS sitcoms.
4.Whitney: Why do we hate this show so much after only three weeks on the air? We wouldn’t if it were on CBS on a Tuesday night. There, we could safely ignore it. But for many of us, Thursday nights on NBC is a weekly television highlight, and “Whitney” is like cancer on a rainbow. Few of us made it past the first five minutes, much less the first half hour of the pilot, but we hate it on principle. Because it exists. Because so many great comedies, like “Better off Ted,” for instance, are put in time-slots where they go unrecognized, where they can never find an audience, while “Whitney” gets to thrive, not because it’s a good show (it isn’t) but because it follows “The Office.” I also understand that many people like Whitney Cummings, and that “Whitney” is a slap in the face to those people who liked her in other formats. It’s like wasting Jon Hamm in a procedural. More criminal, perhaps, is that “Whitney” is the only laugh track network sitcom not on CBS, and its inadvertent, time-slot success might give executives at the other networks the idea that laugh tracks are the way to go. They are not. Do not get that idea. “Whitney” makes me miss “Outsourced,” and I hated “Outsourced.” Worse: Whitney makes me miss Olivia Munn’s sitcom.
3. Jersey Shore: Do you know what the most popular reality show on cable is? It’s “Jersey Shore.” Did you know that “Jersey Shore” regularly fetches twice the viewers of “Parks and Recreation”? Did you know that, in the same time slot, “Jersey Shore” does triple the ratings numbers of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”? Did you know that the New York Times bestseller list often has books from “Jersey Shore” cast members? I do understand that half the audience watches “Jersey Shore” because it’s train-wreck television, but there’s another half who watch and emulate the characters. Search #JerseyShore on Twitter someday, and you’ll understand why the United States ranks so low in literacy. As much as many of us would like to ignore this show, pretend that it does not exist, a show with such broad cultural appeal can’t be avoided. It festers and oozes into our cultural lexicon; these people become part of our national identity. Kids coming of age will invariably get the idea that the means to success is not a college education, hard work, and determination. There’s a shortcut to fame and money, and it’s tanning, drinking, and waiting for MTV to discover them. No one wants to grow up to be lawyers, doctors, and firemen anymore. They want to grow up to be The Situation. Or Snooki. And just what we need is a country full of goddamn Snookis.
2. Glee: You know why I hate this show so much? Because I loved the pilot. In a network environment that shits out procedurals and lawyers shows like it’s been eating cops on the cob for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it was refreshing to finally watch a show infused with a little gay. It wasn’t just a show about underdogs; it was a celebration of outsiders mixed with irresistible, heart-stopping numbers. The first six or eight episodes were phenomenal: An earnest liberal, multicultural program that stressed that it was OK to be different. But now? Most weeks, it’s unwatchable. The characters are caricatures of caricatures, and there’s been an inverse in the high school paradigm: The “different” people are now the popular people (at least to the audience watching) and the popular people — the cheerleaders and football players — have been ostracized, reduced to the very one note that we hate about the “black” guy or the “gay” character in most shows. Worse, it’s bad pointless television full of inconsistent characters who have become increasingly unlikable. In fact, you know who hates the show the most? People who are still watching it, frustrated week after week, waiting for it to come back around to what made it such a sublime show in the first place.
1. Two and a Half Men: We tend to hate those things that we least understand, and “Two and a Half Men” is a complete mystery to me. It’s the number one show on television right now, and I don’t understand why. Not in a “what’s wrong with people who watch this show” kind of way, but with an honest, “What?” kind of way. Look back at the most popular sitcoms over the last two decades: “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers,” “Frasier,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I understood the appeal of those shows even if, in the case of “Raymond,” they didn’t always appeal to me. They were funny, well-acted, well-written sitcoms. Who believes the same about “Two and a Half Men”? I don’t get it. It’s about an unlikable lothario who sleeps around, his deadbeat loser brother, and the child they try to raise together. There’s nothing relateable about any of the characters. There are no heartfelt moments. There’s no sincerity. It’s just setup, punchline, laugh track. Repeat. And even if the jokes were funny (they’re not), I wouldn’t understand its popularity. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never met anyone who likes this show. And yet, 20 million people a week watch it. It’s received 35 Emmy Nominations; it’s won 5 times. I don’t know how to explain that or a world in which that is true.