Rom-com, that’s the phrase that did me in. Last week while watching what’s supposed to be one of the hipper shows on network TV a character uttered the phrase rom-com like everyone would recognize it. I didn’t. With an irritated bent to my voice I asked my wife, “what the hell’s a rom-com?” She, doing what she does, took a deep breath, and said it’s a romantic comedy. She knew it was coming, what I’m famous for, what she hates hearing but everyone who knows me know can happen at any point—The Rant. She wasn’t wrong.

The show in question, Happy Endings on ABC has tried to position itself as the Friend-like show for the new millennium. Because of that, I guess, they’ve tried to talk the way the kids talk. Instead, I’ve found them inventing their own short hand for language that’s supposed to sound like the hip young 20-somethings who don’t seem to have real jobs yet somehow maintain fantastical apartments in trendy sections of New York (perhaps the only part of the show that bears any resemblance to Friends in my opinion.) This short hand drives me insane! I find it labored and insisting upon itself. Never once has anyone I’ve ever known used a phrase like rom-com. This language invention isn’t unique to Happy Endings. I’ve seen it lately in other shows on other networks that are desperately attempting to appear hip. I can’t recall any infractions off-hand but something inside of me wants to say that Up All Night and 30 Rock are both guilty of this offense. While Happy Endings at least features actors young enough to talk the new street talk these other two shows are cast with adult actors that should know better.

So my rant was off and running. You can guess the topics it hit…”stupid writers trying to appear relevant”…”bad actors not willing to speak up”…”demographically concerned networks forcing shows to put ridiculous phrases like rom-com into their scripts”…it went on and on down that path. I frothed at the mouth talking about how MASH and Seinfeld never invented words, Mad About You never tried to make their character anymore hip than they were. Back in the glory days of TV, shows like thirtysomething were hip because it was led by the writing, the writing never attempted to force them to be hip.

After taking that argument as far as I could I started bemoaning how cheap and vulgar sitcoms have become. How shows like Two Broke Girls and Two and A Half Men have lowered the bar immeasurably and now we all suffer with dildo jokes at 8:30, smack dab in the middle of family viewing hour. Don’t misunderstand, I’m no prude. My wife and I have various photos of women in various states of undress around our home. The music we listen to, books we read, movies we chose to read all are adult in nature. The difference, we’re not forcing them into the prime time viewing living room of millions of American just to appear cool. You can be comfortable knowing that if my son and yours has a play date your child will never walk away wondering why I used the word come in quite that way.

In truth, I think I have valid arguments about everything I’ve stated above. Now more than ever, TV programs to the lowest common denominator. It attempts to be either crude or hip in ways that push people like me from it and on to other stations and other media. I’m beginning to appreciate Netflix a lot more. I’m becoming better friends with my DVR. I’m watching DVDs. But TV doesn’t care. TV has chosen I’m not desirable anymore. Once I decided I didn’t want to see Jersey girls puking on TV, or Lady GaGa’s ridiculous fashion statements on a red carpet, once I chose to not get the inside jokes on the hip shows or care about the reality TV stars everyone said I had to care about TV had no use for me. Oh sure, it would still let me in Sunday morning to watch Meet The Press and I could have the various drama or those sitcoms for the older folks but TV caring about what I think is over.

I am no longer television’s desired market. I’m too old. I care too little what Chelsea says on whatever show she currently has on TV or how whoever has their hair cut in whatever style. No longer will that man come on my TV to tell me how white my shirts can be in the words of Mick Jagger because TV has decided I’ve already built buying habits that will last a lifetime. You know what, I think TV’s right. I don’t care what it thinks anymore. I’m not interested in crafting my life to it’s idea of hip. I could care less what it says one should do to be cool, how one should act, where one should hang out, what clothes one should wear, etc. TV says I’m too old. I say I’m too smart. As Ron Burgundy says, “I guess we’ll agree to disagree.”

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