Lists

TV's ten most insulting shows

NBC's new show The Marriage Ref got a lot of promo time during the Olympics, which has more to do with the continuing power of Jerry Seinfeld than anything resembling real quality (although it deserves mentioning that host Tom Papa is both genial and funny, with a sort of a modern Jack Benny vibe). Here's the problem: the show relies on the growing notion that American entertainment is all about making fun of your fellow Americans.

It's nothing new, though the rise of reality TV has certainly made it more pronounced. And now it's becoming depressingly rampant--if comedic stalwarts like Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Larry David (all appearing in early episodes) are supporting this, then what hope does scripted TV -- you know, when we were laughing at fictional characters instead of having the lens turned around on us? -- truly have?

There was an old episode of WKRP in Cincinnati that poked fun at what Real People was already doing back in the late '70s/early '80s. And since then, we've come a long and sad way, baby.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen