Thursday, October 12, 2006

Best Dundies Ever!!!

An article in this month's Atlantic talked about the death of the TV sitcom (thanks to the rise recent billionaire YouTube and its aesthetic), and of course as soon as I saw the cover line, I felt the tingling of resentment on my skin. Not the sitcom - not the format that delivers me "The Office" in all its Carrellian glory each Thursday night! You can't possibly say this is dying!

But as I thought about it, and read the article (you know all that not-judging-by-covers mumbo jumbo has to be true sometimes), I realized I didn't have a beef with the author at all. For the purposes of that column, the sitcom is defined as the three-camera sitcom, a filming style that started with "I Love Lucy" (shudder) and continuing with such hits as "Two and a Half Men" (!!?). This jived well with my recent thinking about my beloved "Office" and its success as a pseudo reality show, pseudo documentary, pseudo sitcom. There are a lot of reasons for its cult following ("I'll check Brookstone" being one of the classic lines, as Dwight, assistant (to) the regional manager, searches online for a purchasable gaydar machine), but one major one is the show's documentarian feel. (I'm ignoring for the purposes of my argument its English predecessor, even though I know they came up with the idea first.) By avoiding the three-camera feel, the show isn't only a semi-documentary, but it also gives it that YouTubeian nature - the sense that these characters know they are being filmed and watched in the privacy of someone's living room. The lack of the camera crew - the absence of the hand behind the microphone - adds to this homey, DIY feel. As a result, the lines between reality and the sitcom have been blurred almost totally. Add to this the blogging and video blogging done by members of the cast, dramatic, fuzzy readings done by the show's actors of a fellow actor's magazine interview, and the ridiculously high percentage of cast members with MySpace profiles, which are inevitably representative half of the character and half of the actor himself. Where does Jenna Fischer leave off and Pam Beesly begin? I sure as hell don't know. She's got a MySpace as Pam, with photos of herself as Jenna at the Emmys, holding up an Emmy in a self-parody (or is it a tribute?) to her character Pam winning an office Dundie award in the premiere episode of season 2. In other words, the way I see it, YouTube isn't destroying the sitcom - it's just altering it beyond recognition. It's okay, though - as long as I can keep watching the antics in Scranton (and Stamford!), I'm fine with that.

I have just realized that the damn article already mentioned the Office, although I think I really did go into it more and he didn't even mention the MySpacing actors or the grassrootsiness of the American version (or, come to think of it, the American version at all). I really thought the article ended at the bottom of the first page and it was only reading the web version that I realized I was wrong and discovered the bit about Ricky Gervais. I see that I am truly part of the web generation when I can read things more clearly and with less confusion (or omission!) than on a printed page. Dammit!

AND I continue to be a total idiot by finishing the article and realizing that the bastard did write about the American office, although I still have no idea why people like "My Name is Earl" so much.

I think I need to do more research.

Also, my quotation mark button doesn't seem to be working so well. This is a problem.

Also, seriously, check out all the "Office" cast members' Myspaces. Just go to Jenna/Pam's profile and click on all her top friends.

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