If you have ever watched Friends and thought “this is disgustingly bad” then you’re in the right place. Just like me, I’m sure you’ve spent time around people who don’t always have the same interests as you. I’ve noticed these people never have anything good on when they watch television. Why is this? What is so unappealing to these people about good writing, thought-provoking ideas and just all-around good entertainment?
Now, the first point I obviously understand is that yes, I know everyone just likes different things. But throughout my years I’ve realized that, in some cases, things like high school cliques carry on into adulthood and seem to stick together. I’ve had my occasional bad run-in with “popular kids” but they are in no way bad people and this is not meant to insult them. I’ve just noticed that the entertainment they choose to digest is always something I’ve considered to be bad.
As a good example of good television, I’m going to use Daredevil. Now Daredevil is more of a nerdy show, being in the superhero realm, but I feel as though the production, story, writing and acting really transcends the genre. So what scares away more casual viewers who somehow find the humour of Friends something that even deserves a grin? First of all, Daredevil cannot be viewed casually. When you’re watching it for the first time, you can’t do homework, you can’t go on Facebook or Twitter while you watch , or else you’re going to get lost and get frustrated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting a show on in the background while you do something else, but Daredevil isn’t one of them.
It’s no secret that one of the easiest ways to appeal to people, in an entertainment sense, is comedy. Laughing is a pretty universal language. Daredevil definitely has humour and jokes in it, but they aren’t very punchline heavy. As an example, Friends comedy can be broken down to “someone says something rational and then someone saying something absolutely ridiculous” and cue laugh track. Daredevil’s comedy, even though it is few and far between, is not at all the same. The jokes always revolve around the story or the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. So sometimes you’ll need even more knowledge than just watching Daredevil which, in itself, may turn some away. Daredevil’s comedy is just a bit smarter. It really depends on your style of comedy and, like I said, Friends’ comedy is definitely easier to consume – which is just better for more casual viewers.
There’s lots of things that differentiate this show as we have mentioned, but perhaps the biggest difference is that Daredevil deals with complex ideas in a very serious tone. The few times that Friends’ deals with complex issues, there is always a joke thrown in to kind of ruin the serious tone. The complexity of Daredevil is going on right in front of your face and very subtly behind the shadows at once.
Even the concept of Daredevil is philosophical in nature. Justice is often personified as a blind woman holding a scale and sword, and it’s no coincidence that the main character, Matthew Murdoch, is a blind defence attorney by day and a badass blind ninja who beats the shit out of people at night. The show has a lot to say about the American justice system, including legal liability, Matt’s relationship as both a lawyer and vigilante and legal determinism vs. libertarianism.
Vigilantes also have a lot more to lose when it comes to the legal sense of things (even moreso for Matt,) as regular super heroes like Thor or Iron Man can either never be held accountable or just use their money and power to get them out of trouble. And again, the show also has different ways of dealing with these vigilantes. Daredevil may not kill criminals but he sure does beat them within an inch of their lives and, in some cases, they just go back to a life of crime. The Punisher however, kills all sorts of criminals and doesn’t even consider if they deserve a chance at redemption. I could go on and on about all the philosophical ideas this shows deal with; religion, dualism and social responsibility.
Friends comes nowhere near to dealing with these sorts of ideas or issues and, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s because Friends is just more for casual viewing. The shows are two different genres, but that never means that a show can’t tackle philosophical debates, social issues or concepts of morality. If Friends ever does this, they just blow it off with jokes. Some of the characters in Friends even do incredibly shitty things where, if they happened in real life, nobody would want to be your friend. Having realistic characters and writing can really make or break a show.
I think it really boils down to this: good television is generally not viewable on a casual level. The characters, plots, jokes and ideas behind the show are meant to make you feel more things than just a small chuckle (that is, if Friends can even manage to make you chuckle.) Good television like Daredevil isn’t really something that you can put on in the background. It doesn’t rely solely on the crutch of comedy. Superhero shows and movies have absolutely become more popular over the past 10 years, but the shows especially are still considered to be a “nerdy” thing to watch. I just wish better television shows were more widely loved so I could talk about them more. I’d much rather hear Foggy Nelson give a one-liner than Joey say “How you doin’” any day. How people even find that funny, blows my fucking mind.
Sterling Guilherme is a video game journalist who is a lover of JRPG’s, strategy games, and high fantasy RPG’s. Careful if you’re playing any kind of board-game with him, as he gets incredibly competitive. His favorite board games are Catan and Risk. He’s probably somewhere right now, day-dreaming of a good meal and a stiff drink.