I used to be a TV junkie.
From 1993 until about 2010 I was obsessed with TV. I'm the 1990's I would plan my whole life around professional wrestling, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons. In the 2000's I had news shows, The Simpsons, and NBA games to watch.
I used to record shows on my VCR, watch others shows, and would watch the VCR tapes after school.
I can still remember in 1994 taping episodes of Steve Harvey's Me & The Boys but watching The Martin Short Show. Both shows were only watched by me.
I was a TV junkie. But that ended when I moved into an apartment in 2010, and to save money I eliminated cable and just read more and learned to love the internet.
But a funny thing happened in the January winter of 2016. I got a Netflix account. And my life has changed dramatically. I've fallen in love with TV again.
Returning to Cheers, The 70's Show, and finding new shows has been a real joy.
The Netflix originals Stranger Things, Lemony Snicket, and reruns of The People v. OJ Simpson made me love the power of TV again. And commercial free. Thank you very much. Hey Hulu! Get a clue!
Last week I recently binge watched GLOW and I'm currently watching Showtime's I'm Dying Up Here on their YouTube channel and will finish the show on their 30 day free app trial. I'm cheap. I know.
GLOW is a fantastic new show fictionalizing the birth of The Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling. I'm Dying Up Here is a new show fictionalizing the birth of the LA comedy scene. Primarily The Comedy Store.
Both shows have a lot in common.
Both are period pieces. GLOW tackles the gritty 80's. Dying tackles the 70's.
Both have a large ensemble cast.
Both tackle sexism, drugs, family life, etc.
Both are dramady in tone.
Both are about creating a character on stage to entertain the masses.
Here's where they differ: GLOW is fun and Dying is miserable to watch.
Dying only works if are a comedian. The cliché of the tortured artist is the only emotion it has. The actors are all fine, but the idea of only tackling the sorry saps of Sunset is hard to watch an hour of. It's based on a book that chronicles the comedy lives of famous comedians before they were famous. That would have made a great show. Young Jay Leno and young David Letterman, before they were enemies. That would be great TV. Instead we get boring conflict between unfunny characters yelling and screwing each other. It's not fun. How anyone outside of LA or NYC would enjoy this mess is beyond me.
Then there's GLOW. This funny, inspirational, dramatic, twist filled STORY is everything great TV should be. Instead of just saying "sexism is bad" the show says that while exploiting it's characters. As a character is being called a prude, she's stripping down in the locker room of a gym. There is true satire there. The idea that a post feminist culture created an even more sexist world is deeper than anything Dying has to say.
The shows are both anchored my great performances though. Melissa Leo is fantastic as a Mitzi Shore rip off Goldie, and Marc Maron is a revelation as Sam. But where Goldie is willing to backstab and show she's one of the boys, Maron's Sam is not trying to be one of the girls. He's frustrated and anxious, but it's charming and builds empathy in the audience. We want him to win. With Goldie, we want other characters to defeat her.
The major area Dying gets wrong is the tortured artist syndrome. Yes. I get it. Stand up comedians have issues. But so do Wall Street gamblers. But a lot of comedians are funny people. I know. I am one. The myth that they're all depressed is not true. Many are just normal people who see this as an artistic outlet.
Jim Gaffigan. Jerry Seinfeld. Albert Brooks. They aren't tortured souls. Nor does their comedy reflect that. Yes, Richard Pryor was, but his story is an anomaly. Most of us didn't live in a brothel.
GLOW demonstrates the fun and excitement of performing. These girls want to put on a good show. The comics of Dying want to entertain themselves.
Either way, TV is totally back. And 13 year old Paul is thrilled he can watch it all on apps instead of a VCR tape.
Paul Douglas Moomjean Blog's About What's on His Mind
Blogging allows for me to rant when there is no stage in the moment to talk about what's important and/or funny to me.