Friday , December 1 2023
There was laughter, tears, and heartache. Was it the debate or the sitcom?

The Debate and My Name is Earl: Laughing and Crying

So, I TiVoed the debate last night on CNN HD, and started watching about 30 minutes after the whole thing began. You know, life got in the way, necessitating the slightly delayed start. Well, after watching the first five minutes I cursed myself for not starting on time. If I had started on time I would have realized how horrific CNN HD's coverage was and I could have switched over to another network without missing anything.

I don't know if CNN HD did what they did last night with the first Presidential debate too (I watched that one on NBC), but it's something they should never do again. You see, to the left and right side of the screen they were showing this nonsensical scoring system giving plus and minus points to the candidates by CNN's pundits.

Now, I don't do politics (it makes me cry), so let's focus on the televisual aspects of why they shouldn't be showing those ridiculous scores. Mostly, the answer is that it was hugely distracting. The point of the debate was to listen to what the candidates have to say, not to pay attention to a purely arbitrary scoring system. Between that and CNN's nonsensical devices allowing a panel of undecided Ohioans to rate how much they liked or disliked what a candidate was saying, I thought I was watching someone else play a video game instead of watching a debate. What's next, rather than post-debate commentary, play-by-play where Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer informs us which candidate just lied about what?

Though there were some laugh out loud moments in the debate, it was the show I watched before it, My Name is Earl, that was far more funny. I guess that's a good thing for both the debate and Earl.

Last season the show was certainly lackluster, and while I enjoyed the premiere last week, I was a little concerned that this week it would go back to being less than amusing. In the end though, I think last night may have been more funny than last week.

The biggest surprise of the evening though was not the humor, but Joy showing some signs of growth. Earl discovered that her boys, Earl Jr. and Dodge, apparently had no friends. Upon looking into it, however, he learned that the problem wasn't their boys, but rather Joy — no one wanted to invite the boys anywhere because no one wanted Joy to be there (Joy tends to say what's on her mind at all times and nothing on her mind tends to be G-rated). Joy learned about how everyone else felt about her and went to teach them a lesson, but she stopped herself. She got to the party that her boys were at and rather than unloading on the parents she sat in the car and let her boys have their fun. Unbelievable.

It was completely out of character for Joy and a great move for the show. Joy has some of the funniest, most outlandish lines on the show and by having her step back and do something normal (and sane) it brought her back down to earth. It humanized her.

If only either of the VP candidates last night actually did anything to humanize themselves, that part of my viewing might have been more engaging.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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