The life of anyone practicing an art form—whatever you do with passion is your art—is a continual balancing act between impassioned self-expression and self-questioning despair. For me, this duality revolves around my efforts in fiction writing (i.e., screen, novel, poetry, short stories, etc.).
Earlier today, I learned that the television series 2 Broke Girls ended its six-season run on CBS, and the news briefly shifted my balance toward despair.
On a couple of occasions, I tried to watch the sitcom about two broke girls plying their trade as diner waitresses while targeting a dream of opening a cupcake shop. But each time, I had to turn the show off after a few minutes because I found the comedy so excruciating.
Every 15 seconds, there was yet another wink-wink nudge-nudge one-liner that I felt lacked any art whatsoever, dialogue that but for an incessant laugh-track would likely have been met with complete silence in front of a live audience.
And yet, the series aired for six seasons. It had enough of an audience for CBS to keep it on the air.
I like broad comedy; truthfully, I do. I even write it on occasion.
I live for Mel Brooks’ comedies, for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for Blackadder, for The Muppet Show, for SCTV, In Living Color and Kids in the Hall.
Anyone who has followed me for any period of time—especially on Twitter—knows I am up for any joke-opalyse.
But the appeal of 2 Broke Girls and its ilk—looking at you, Two-and-a-Half Men—simply eludes me. It feels like one-liners in search of a higher purpose.
But here’s the thing I constantly need to remind myself:
This difficulty rests entirely within me, and has nothing to do with the creators or writers of any of these shows.
Celebrate, don’t negate
Getting ANY television show to air, getting any screenplay turned into a movie is difficult, even in this era of seemingly limitless venues and diminishing equipment costs.
That any show manages more than a pilot episode is amazing. So, six seasons of broadcast should be celebrated from every mountain top.
As an artist, I applaud 2 Broke Girls creators Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings for getting their show on the air. I congratulate the people behind the Sharknado series for continuing to produce films.
To denigrate these efforts simply because they do not suit my tastes is not only unfair, it is also blatant hubris.
Who the hell am I—a writer who has one television special to his credit (thank you, SomeTV!)—to say that these efforts are unworthy of attention?
For that matter, even if I were more routinely lauded and vastly more accomplished, it would not be my place to dictate what should be valued as Art.
And as an artist, as someone exploring my passions:
Dwelling on this topic is useless. More importantly, it is detrimental to me and the craft as I exercise it.
It would be naïve to suggest that trends in comedy and writing have no influence on my career as a writer, but honestly, my career is secondary to my writing; a beneficial side effect, if you will.
Comparing my efforts to those of others is therefore unimportant.
My only true comparator is what I wrote yesterday and any internal sense of whether I am getting better at making the points I wish to make, telling the stories I want to tell.
I write because I have something to say.
I write because I don’t know how not to.
I write because it brings me joy.
Certainly, part of understanding my craft is seeing how others approach the same challenges and opportunities I face.
Just as I must choose my path forward, so too must they theirs. Although I may not see the merits in their choices, they are doing what is right for them and I must honour that.
There is room enough for all of us.
I own complete series collections of Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes, which I appreciate others might consider as insipid as I do 2 Broke Girls.
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