BRAVE NEW VOICES: With waves of piddle!


Part 1—Emily Gould is no snob:
The waves of bunk from major news orgs were quite impressive this weekend.

We refer to work we saw at the new Salon and at Slate, at the New York Times and the Washington Post. In this morning’s early hours, the waves of piddle continued to crash on the shore.

That said, of all the piddle we scanned this weekend, one presentation has stuck in our head. We refer, of course, to Emily Gould’s review of The Big Bang Theory, the popular CBS sitcom.

Her piece appeared last Friday night at the new Salon:
FRIDAY, NOV 14, 2014 07:00 PM EST
What’s so funny about “The Big Bang Theory”?
It's the most popular comedy on television—but I have to admit: I just don't understand what everyone's laughing at
According to the headline writer, Emily Gould was forced to admit it. She just doesn’t understand!

Is that really was Gould was saying? Truthfully, we’d be inclined to say no. First, though, a sad admission about our own cluelessness:

Until this weekend, we don’t think we knew who Emily Gould is. For some reason, we read her peculiar TV review, and that got us wondering.

As it turns out, Gould is one of the stars of New York’s exciting new scene. She’s 33, and she started at Gawker. She has just published her first adult novel.

The full story can be found here.

Why was Gould reviewing a sitcom which is in its eighth season? As she started, Gould—who isn’t a snob—gave a quick explanation.

In our view, it largely failed to parse:
GOULD (11/14/14): “The Big Bang Theory” is the most popular TV show in America, consistently ranking in the top two or three TV comedies since its fourth season, and leading the ratings for syndicated content in the last two years, except last year when it was narrowly beaten out by “Judge Judy.” I had never seen it, and so I thought the eighth season might be a good opportunity to find out what all the fuss was about.
That paragraph doesn’t exactly make sense.

According to Gould, The Big Bang Theory has “led the ratings for syndicated content in the last two years.” Except last year, when it didn’t!

Why does she say it’s the nation’s most popular TV show? Apparently, because it has “consistently ranked in the top two or three TV comedies since its fourth season.”

That doesn’t make obvious sense.

Whatever! For reasons which remain murky, Gould decided that this, the program’s eighth season, “might be a good opportunity to find out what all the fuss was about.” In this, the passage which followed, we discovered the roots of despair:
GOULD (continuing directly): I like TV. If it distracts me from my brain-noise without the added stimulus of an additional screen nearby, I’m in. “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” passes this test, as does “Chopped,” as do seasons of “30 Rock” that I’ve already seen up to four times. I have seen more episodes than I’d really care to admit of the Netflix horror-telenovela “Hemlock Grove,” which is about a town in Pennsylvania where some people are werewolves and other people are vampires and no one has ever noticed this or done anything about it, even though there are a ton of mysterious vampire/werewolf-related things happening all the time.

I’ve seen every episode of “Don’t Trust the B (In Apt. 23)” and I cried when it was cancelled. When I see a headline along the lines of “Has this Episode of American Horror Story Finally Gone Too Far?” I already know that my answer will be ha-ha, no. I watch all the critically acclaimed usual suspects, too, usually gulping them down as soon as they start streaming. But that leaves a lot of time for trashier fare, even in this golden age of Quality Television. I’m not just making sure you know that I’m not a snob. I’m trying to say that it’s kind of a miracle that I’ve never dipped into the wealth of “Big Bang Theory” episodes available to me before now.
One or two commenters recorded our own reaction to this passage:

How could anyone, let alone a budding novelist, possibly spend so much time watching so much trashy TV? That’s what those commenters asked.

Gould, of course, not being a snob, was quick with her answer. These TV shows “distract [her] from [her] brain-noise without the added stimulus of an additional screen nearby.”

To us, that sounded like a way of suggesting that something is happening inside Gould’s brain which may not be happening inside yours. Meanwhile, do you believe she actually cried when that (misnamed) TV show was cancelled?

We can’t say we believe that either! Quickly, she reached her deep thought:
GOULD (continuing directly): Too bad it’s the millionth thing this week to make me do complicated mental gymnastics in order to avoid having the banal, snobby thought, “Are most Americans just plain dumb?” I don’t think people are stupid, really—I believe that some of us are ignorant, and many of us vote against our own interests. It’s a lot easier to understand why people do this in the realm of public policy, though, than to get why they do it in the realm of private entertainment.
Please try to follow:

Gould clogs her days with every low-IQ show ever brought to the screen. But just last week, a million things made her wonder why so many other people are so dumb.

Indeed, she engages in “complicated mental gymnastics” to avoid that snobby thought! Do you find yourself doing that, the way this novelist does?

Gould is some sort of emerging star of the emerging New York scene. What can this fact possibly mean?

Tomorrow, on to those mountains of drivel, which seemed to emerge from all across the publishing world this weekend.

Tomorrow: Prime drivel, from every direction

For extra credit only: In the passage we’ve posted, did Gould say that Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a quality TV show?

We were struck by the number of Salonistas who seemed to think she had. What does it mean when so many readers stampede in that direction?


  1. "One or two commenters recorded our own reaction to this passage"

    I hope one or two commenters here record their reaction to this piddly post.

    I wonder why Bob reacts to reactions of the Salonistas and peruses their piffle? Meanwhile his one or two fans will react by asking why I read his stuff (while asserting he does not read mine, yours or their's).

    It is easier to let Bob summarize the bad stuff in Salon than read it myself. He pays much closer attention to details than I do.

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  2. "According to Gould, The Big Bang Theory has “led the ratings for syndicated content in the last two years.” Except last year, when it didn’t! "


    1. Ditto. Bob really nailed her good with that one. The same thinbg must be happening in her head as in Rachel's. Devolution. I think Bob seems to focus on that. As well he should.


    2. Bob sure nailed Rachel on her false presentation on Senate Dems and the lame duck session.

  3. Something real.

  4. By "Some of us are ignorant and many of us vote against our own interests," does anyone think this twit suggested she could be one of the "us" who is ignorant and self-sabotaging? No, she wants us to know that she's not one of the ignorami and also in declaring she's "not a snob" we can all recognize she is really saying she is one and qualified to be such.

  5. "If it distracts me from my brain-noise without the added stimulus of an additional screen nearby, I’m in."

    Does this mean she wants to watch shows that don't actually require you to watch them in order to follow what is going on? Is the added screen nearby, the TV screen? Or is she saying that it has to distract her sufficiently that she doesn't need to be also multitasking on yet another screen in order to stop herself from thinking?

    I don't think this is about snobbery. I think it is about whether someone is willing to commit to following a single show without other distractions sufficiently to understand what is going on in it.

    I think Big Bang Theory is coasting along on the strength of the characters and relationships established over previous seasons and if someone jumps in at the end and doesn't know what these are, how can they be interested in it? It is like trying to read a book starting with chapter 23, instead of from the beginning. Why would someone do that -- especially a novelist?

    People who consume media while multi-tasking get what they deserve. Everything reduced to the level of twitter. Maximum superficiality. If she thinks the purpose of media is to stop the noise in her head, she should be taking medication -- so I agree with Somerby on that one. The cure for overstimulation is not more stimulation. It is a week in the country unplugged.

    1. Are the noises in her head "thinking" or something else (ad jingles, flies buzzing, voices)?

  6. I've never seen one episode of any of the shows mentioned in her piece.

    I'm not a snob.

  7. Hmmm, is "The Big Bang Theory" actually "The Rachel Maddow Show"?

    Smug self-absorbed nerds laughing at The Great Unwashed alongside a laugh-track.

    No, not a chance - Rachel doesn't use a laugh-track.


    1. And no one on big bang theory is laughing at the unwashed. They mostly laugh at each other.