There are a lot of foods that I don’t like. But I can appreciate that they are something that someone somewhere might like. They’re still food, I just don’t like the taste. Cauliflower though, my god, cauliflower. That’s not even food. I don’t just not like the taste, I find it to be literal poison. If you try to drink drain cleaner, you’re going to throw it up by reflex. Because your body recoils instinctively against it and tries to eject it from the body in any way possible. That’s how cauliflower is to me. When I was a kid, forced to eat vegetables against my will, cauliflower was on the regular menu. I learned to eat it by cutting it into small pieces, and then swallowing each with a drink like a pill. Because I was physically incapable of chewing it without retching.
There are people who insist it is a wonderful thing, who post all sorts of recipes featuring it in Facebook groups that are supposed to be safe places. And every time, I taste vomit.
Wet Hot American Summer is the cauliflower of entertainment.
The Internet is full of people who think it is the greatest thing since puberty, and I just don’t understand. It’s not that I think it’s bad, because that presupposes putting it in a category of entertainment to be evaluated. Like cauliflower isn’t food, Wet Hot American Summer isn’t entertainment.
Through eight episodes, I didn’t laugh once. I didn’t crack a smile. I didn’t emote. And it’s not that I thought the jokes were unfunny, or that they didn’t land for me. Throw on an episode of Big Bang Theory and I’ll be equally blank-faced, but the difference is that I can identify what the jokes are and why they’re supposed to be funny, even if I don’t think they are. Wet Hot American Summer? I can’t even tell you what the humor was supposed to be, because the entire project was so orthogonal to anything I would describe as humor that I might as well have been trying to pass cauliflower off as steak.
Is it funny because forty year olds are playing sixteen year olds?
Is it funny because it’s riffing on eighties movies?
Is it funny because it’s nonsensical?
Is it funny because it’s not funny?
Is it funny because every creative decision in it is fucking stupid?
I’m just spitballing here, because I honestly don’t have a clue what is supposed to be entertaining about any of it. You know those SNL sketches that seem to go on forever, and you have no idea why they’re supposed to be funny, but they keep grinding them out for an interminable six minutes? Like “The Californians”? Well this is 240 minutes of that. On the same sketch. Can you imagine a four hour version of “The Californians”? Well have I got a summer camp for you.
The analogy is almost too apt, if only because the cast is so full of people who are genuinely entertaining in their own right, whom you’d swear would be hilarious reading the telephone book, that it’s stunning just how not-entertaining they are in this context. Like a parade of guest stars, drowning in the mediocrity of “The Californians,” so goes the ensemble in Wet Hot American Summer.
A special shout-out needs to go to Michael Showalter though, who is co-creator of the show and also plays the character of Coop. While the show is boring and unfunny normally, every scene featuring Showalter is more painful than the last. Whether it’s intentional or not, and likely it is and is also a big part of whatever the hell it is I simply don’t get about the show, Showalter’s Coop is a black hole of humor, physically sucking the life out of every scene he is in.
Why is he the star of this show? Why is there a platoon of hilarious people playacting through his nonsensical storyline? Why is the entire Internet gushing over this?
I’d rather eat cauliflower than watch anymore of this show.