Super Fun Night 1×13 ‘Let the Games Begin’: Yes. Games.

Source: ABC

What level does Super Fun Night operate on? Maybe the better question is what level should I take Super Fun Night on. There are indications every once in a while that it doesn’t want to be a pure throwback sitcom, that it actually wants to play around with the tropes of the genre. The character of Kimmie Boubier practically screams that intention, playing around as it does with the concept of a sitcom protagonist. The problem is I don’t know how Super Fun Night is trying to play with genre types. With something like 30 Rock, I know to expect an fatalist insider skew on the stereotypes. With Community, a meta-discussion of the trope that tries to get at the emotional truth that makes the trope work. With Parks and Rec, a kinda throwback faux-reactionary embrace of type. Maybe I haven’t watched enough of Super Fun Night to learn how the show wants me to watch it. Maybe.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

But I’m concerned, because as I sit down to watch it, I don’t laugh out loud. Maybe once an episode. If you asked me “But John, just tell me, was it funny?” I don’t have an answer, because there are long stretches, sometimes minutes on end, when Super Fun Night plays to type so closely that it just falls flat. The writers have the sitcom form down to a science, that’s clear enough, but I can’t tell whether they’re sticking to it for procedure, or whether the brightly tacky schmaltz is part of the joke. Whether it’s intentionally playing with the ideas and tropes isn’t the point (at this point I strongly suspect it is), but where it’s attacking. What it’s implying about the form. I can’t tell which jokes Super Fun Night is implying and which jokes I’m inferring.

Take Kimmie’s almost immediate jump to “I guess you don’t like my friends,” with James. It’s hysterical (in the “hysterics” sense) and ridiculous and cliche and not funny. BUT, it also tacks towards an exceedingly common sitcom plot, one that’s played to death, and often that conclusion is reached with more effort (or at least more appeals to cliche). There’s a joke there about how obvious this piece of drama is. There’s also a joke about how much time Super Fun Night likes to spend with its comedy factory, eschewing what others would consider necessary narrative to spend more time being goofy and delivering jokes that are not exactly germane to the plot. A plot that Super Fun Night takes about as seriously as it does Richard the Brit’s Kimmie infatuation. But you know, I need some statement that the show is that smart. So I don’t feel like an idiot for reading too much into it.

Source: ABC

Source: ABC

However: in a shocking twist, Kate Jenkinson was actually funny tonight. Turns out she just needs to, you know, be acting, not on ice queen autopilot. Shocker.

Well, that’s it for me. I’ll turn this back over to Maya’s able hands. Sitcoms are hard to write about.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Is Marika supposed to be a secret lesbian? Is that text or subtext?
  • Oh hey, Nate Torrence again. What inspired casting.
  • Speaking of things that seem like they might be a joke: naming a pop culture character something as unwieldy as “Helen Alice.”
  • What’s wrong with dry shampoo? It’s beloved by my fellow shitlords everywhere.
  • Sad desperation Kimmie problematic. I’m not sure how but if I wrote for Jezebel or Vulture I would have OPINIONS.
  • Seriously, charades? Is it the only game in the public domain?
  • Is Kendall eating off brand Nutella?
  • Boob jenga. That’s…whatever, fine, not worth it.

 

 

John M.

works for a legal newspaper in Baltimore and lives within three blocks of Tilghman Middle, the alley where Omar and Brother Mouzone have their showdown, and Pearson’s Florists. He enjoys putting his liberal arts degree to good use by watching a lot of TV and reading a lot of internet. He occasionally blogs (about Dawson’s Creek) on tumblr.

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