Is It Okay to Not Like ‘Difficult’ Comedies if They Still Lead to Think Pieces?

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Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish in The Comeback. (John P. Johnson/HBO)

So, apparently, The Comeback’s come back is not doing so hot, ratings wise. In fact, for two straight weeks the Lisa Kudrow cringe-comedy has been rated the least watched original scripted series on all of cable, lower than Starz’s The Missing and BBC America’s Atlantis, two shows I just found out existed.

I found this information out and it bothered me not even a little, because straight up, full disclosure, I do not like The Comeback. The show physically pains me, and not in the good way some shows physically pain me. But up until now I kind of just accepted that I was the only one who felt this way. (Ed. note: HELLO? HELLO??!) Our own recapper loves it. I went on this web show and was told I was bonkers for not liking it. Every.single.webste that recaps or reviews any sort of TV features The Comeback, if not weekly but at least with a think-piece or two with strong opinions on how The Comeback affects society, Hollywood, etc etc ad infinitum.

And yet, no one is watching. Where are the Atlantis think-pieces?

This obviously reminds me of that other most-divisive HBO show GIRLS, another show that spawns far more “ideas” than it does “ratings.” GIRLS is without a doubt  culturally important. Everyone talks about the show all year round, so you’d be forgiven for not realizing that the fourth season premiere is in January, despite the season three finale drawing far less than a million viewers. The people that cover TV talk about GIRLS, but the majority of people who don’t get paid to watch TV do not.

Interesting enough, I got the idea for this whole thing in the comments section of an article (I enjoy comment sections, sue me.) Commenters were having a debate over whether or not The Comeback is a good show. One commenter, in classic commenter fashion, said it sucks. Another user threw back a single word, as if it were the most vile insult someone could fling at someone: “laugh-tracker.” This implies that if you don’t like The Comeback, you must like “safe” comedy, like The Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men. Shows that don’t add much to the idea of a larger culture, but just sling rapid-fire jokes at the screen while a laugh track confirms they are funny (and, ironically, gain massive, massive ratings in the process). Like, it is simply impossible that you can be intelligent AND dislike “ideas” show like The Comeback; rather, being uncomfortable with Valerie Cherish’s foolishness is evidence that you are the type of idiot who would have eaten up Room & Bored. That you either love difficult comedies, or basic cable sitcoms that don’t require much thought at all, and there is no room for anything in-between.

Which is a shame, since by that logic, it doesn’t seem anyone is watching “difficult” comedies.

Why can’t it be somewhere in the middle? As documented across the landscape of pretty much everything I’ve ever written ever, I can both NOT enjoy the Big Bang Theory, but I ALSO dislike The Comeback. Not because I don’t think it doesn’t have value, but because I simply just don’t. The funny thing I find when I tell people I don’t like it is most say the same thing about the original Comeback. Ahead of its time, ahead of its time, ahead of its time. Every single time. Is it possible that maybe in the nine years it took to make season two, time just simply caught up?

And really, I understand the irony of the fact that I’m writing a thoughtful piece about how strange it is that low-rated shows get so many think-pieces. I know. But I’ll tell you this, I’m still not going to watch.

Is It Okay to Not Like ‘Difficult’ Comedies if They Still Lead to Think Pieces?