I’m a self-confessed curmudgeon. I think that faulty wiring in my soul ensures that irritation is my go-to emotion. I’m not proud of this, necessary; but I equally don’t shy away from it. I use it for entertainment purposes.
I do like some things. Cheeseburgers. Tequila. Boogie Nights. The list of items in the dislike column is, admittedly, much longer.
My Debbie Downer ways are most evident when discussing things that are universally loved. Sometimes it makes me feel that there’s truly something wrong with who I am as a human being for me to have missed the charm that most other people see so clearly.
So, here is a list of the top five things — people, shows, restaurants, genres, anything — that everybody on earth seems to love while I furrow my brow, mystified.
HONORABLE MENTION: DENIS LEARY
Denis Leary can only qualify for the honorable mention category because the phrase “universally loved” might be a stretch. But seriously. Why is his brand of yell-acting popular? I’ve heard people say that his new show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is actually pretty good. No it isn’t. And I’ve never seen a single moment. But if it stars Denis Leary, the world’s most clever writing will be drowned out by his bubbling “volume-over-charisma” brand of charm.
And if I have to hear him scream another Chevy commercial at me, I’m buying a spite Saab.
#5 WAIT WAIT… DON’T TELL ME!
My hipster friends will never forgive me for this one. I’ve only recently admitted this aloud; for years I’ve carried the burden alone, quietly pretending to enjoy the show my wife always chooses during road trips.
NPR features a lot of captivating, informative programming. I just don’t see why — with so many better, accessible options — you’d turn to the news station for your comedy.
(I’m so sorry, honey!)
#4 TWO BROKE GIRLS
I’ve given the CBS show a few chances. I’m not a fan of the modern sitcom in general, but that doesn’t mean they’re all equally unwatchable. I just can’t, for the god damn life of me, figure out Two Broke Girls’ disproportionate popularity.
I can boil down its primary shortcoming into three words: it’s not funny. Its ancillary problem, a function of the first, is that Kat Dennings — while fetching — hasn’t a comedic instinct in her body. Her lines are delivered too quickly and without timing or inflection, always with a somehow-condescending grin on her face.
And yet, it’s one of the most popular programs on TV. I would be one broke man — get it? — betting on what catches on in America.
#3 OPRAH WINFREY
Oprah is a testament to how, if you conduct yourself with unwavering confidence — even when lacking the appropriate expertise — people will gravitate to you. We’re all confused, scared, sad, and lonely. We appreciate people claiming to have the answers, even if there’s no logical reason to believe them. (See: Scientology.)
Look, I appreciate Oprah’s philanthropy. I really do. It’s hard not to tear up when she gives away beds and cars and houses. It’s the patronizing little “lessons” that I can’t stomach. “Oprah’s Lifeclass”? Really? That’s a thing? She’s teaching life? I’m not sure she’s qualified to do that.
I eat at Subway sometimes. It’s cheap and easy enough. But really, it’s gross. And I’m not saying “gross” as some food snob that demands the highest quality organic ingredients. I wouldn’t call McDonald’s gross. Well, at least not in the same way.
Here’s the thing: McDonald’s is disgusting but it’s enjoyable going down. Subway is disgusting and I don’t even like the taste. It’s caught in this middle space between fast food and a real meal. And it fails on both accounts. The stale bread and soggy lettuce do not remind me of “freshness.” I’ve never in my life craved a Subway sandwich, and whenever a friend suggests it for lunch, I always answer, “Ugh, I guess.” It’s the consolation prize of meals.
And the poor sandwich “artists.” If only they could prepare the meal like all the rest of the greasy $3 lunches get prepared. But no. The employees — and their mediocre food — are on display.
And then there’s Jared.
#1 CRIME DRAMAS
I think that people are wired to be captivated by crime mysteries. We like seeing violent behavior from the safety of our living room with a clever gumshoe putting together the clues as they hustle against time to a suspenseful conclusion.
I’m mis-wired. It really doesn’t do anything for me. And I say that I’m mis-wired because I really wish I could suspend my suspicious disbelief and just enjoy the ride.
This obviously can’t be true across the board. If I disliked every story relating to crime, I’d have no television or movies left to watch. It’s the formulaic one-hour network dramas that turn me off. And the god damn abundance of them! I don’t enjoy Law & Order, let alone CSI: Branson.
I’m pretentiously baffled every time I see a new show starring a “cop who plays by his own rules!” I think I’d rather enjoy a program about a rule-playing cop who does paperwork all night. At least that would be original.