Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sitcom Showdown Finale!!

Looking back, it’s been over four months since I first began discussing the differences and merits of Scrubs and HIMYM. (It’s actually been a month since I wrote that line!)  Since then I’ve encountered many distractions which have put off the writing of the last installment of the series.  But I have finally come to a decision and will put it in print for you, Faithful Reader.  Or whoever is giving me these page views.  Mom?

First, though, here are the links to the first and second installments of The Smackdown!!

So without further ado...

As mentioned previously, I’ve evaluated the two shows based on Characters, Popularity, Story-Telling, Cultural Influence, and Emotional Response.  To recap, Scrubs won Characters, HIMYM won Popularity and Story-Telling.  That gives us a tally of 2-1 HIMYM.  But there are two categories left.

The first, Cultural Influence, is a bit of a challenge.  I chose to look at this category in a variety of ways.  First, which show is more present on the streets, and second, which show was most influenced by the culture?  

For the first part, I think it quite obvious that HIMYM is the more prevalent show in the streets.  When commercials on other channels are using the “Legen-wait for it-dary!” catch phrase in their own promos, I think it obvious that HIMYM has no small popularity and thus, influence.  The show is widely popular which leads to it coming up in everyday conversation.  The “general applause”/”major pain” joke is widespread among those savvy enough to look for it.  Additionally, this show has revitalized Mr. Harris’ career.  I don’t think it too much of a stretch to say that HIMYM has given him a career boost in the last seven or so years it has been airing.  Look at the early 2000s.  Where was dear NPH?  In a crappy comedy cameo (ALLITERATION!!!) called White Castle and the Inane Plot.  But then this show comes up, folks start paying attention, and, let’s face it, Barney is the favorite character even though Lily is waaay prettier.  So NPH starts getting more roles.  Dr. Horrible anyone?  Not huge, but very popular and dear to those who know it.  Hosting awards shows?  He’s an icon.  Due, in large part, to HIMYM.

However, HIMYM, while excelling with an original story-telling device, is not the most original show.  It’s a cast of (presumably) twenty-something characters and their tales of romantic woe.  Friends?  In New York?  Twenty-something?  Sounds oddly similar to another very popular show on a rival network.  (THAT SUCKED, MIND YOU)  Basically, the networks wanted to find something to cash in on the popularity of That Other Show without violating copyright.  Thus, HIMYM was started.  Bob Saget was a brilliant choice though.

Scrubs, on the other hand, was a refreshing new take on the sitcom structure.  It was not a middle-aged portly fellow and his too-attractive wife and their continual shenanigans resulting from miscommunication.  (Oops, sorry I broke the vase and didn’t tell you, I guess our silly kids ratted me out...why I oughta!!!)  Instead, Scrubs brought daydreams and (mostly) realistic characters to the table.  It seemed like a mostly original sitcom.  And Scrubs had its heyday for a bit as well.  While it never did as well at awards shows as I thought it should have, it still made a good showing each year.  

Because of these two facts, that HIMYM is more widely popular, but mired in the dregs of its predecessor, I have decided that Cultural Influence is a TIE.  Neither show will score a point on this category.  If you don’t like it tell me why and I’ll explain, sweetly, why you’re wrong.

Finally, we’ll get to the last category and the one I feel is the most important: Emotional Response.  Being of sound mind and interesting body, I feel it is my duty to point out that I can only measure mine own emotions in response to the episodes of the two shows.  In other words, depending on which show I liked more, they’ll win this category.  And, oh yeah, this category is worth 2 points because I can.

HIMYM is a very funny show; one which makes me laugh on a very consistent basis.  However, as far as evoking other emotions in me, it comes up short.  Let’s face it, I’ll laugh at the drop of a hat, especially if the hat makes a sort of squish sound when it hits the ground.  As far as sadness or anger or anything besides a bit of frivolity goes, HIMYM doesn’t come up with any of that until Season 6.  Even then, there are only a few moments in a handful of episodes that have any impact at all and only one which got me to cry.

Scrubs, on the other hand, is amazing in this regard.  By Season 3, Scrubs’ writers had really found their stride and were cranking out episodes such as “My Screw Up” which, when it ended, had me staring in astonishment at the television repeating the same curse over and over.  My brother was present and I’m sure he would verify the accuracy of that statement.   Then, over the course of the next five seasons, they turned out more gems that had me bawling like a starving vegan in a butcher’s shop.  

Then came the series finale.  The REAL series finale, not whatever drivel they concocted for that med-school crap.  I mean the finale that took your heartstrings, tied them into the emotional equivalent of the Gordian knot, then released you into the world with a smile.  It was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.  It was a wonderful pain and yet there’s a part of me that will never again be filled.  I’ve yet to see how HIMYM ends, but I’d be willing to chug the brine from a jar of pig’s feet if it could top the end of Scrubs.  

There you have it.  Scrubs is a better show than HIMYM mostly because its richer characters reach deep within you and evoke emotions that you usually only find at holiday dinners with the family.  HIMYM is funny, hilarious at points, but it simply isn’t the quality programming that Scrubs was and still is thanks to DVDs and Netflix.  And yes, if you read between the lines of that bit, you’ll realize I basically said tv was better when I was a kid.  

That’s it for now, I’m sorry if this is a letdown for you, Reader, but if you watch all the episodes of each show, you’ll realize I’m right and I’ll let you buy me dinner.  I’m that kind of guy.  I’ve also resolved to update this on a much more regular basis and am optimistic that I’ll be able to add something to the collective (un)intelligence of the Internets again soon.  Look forward to writing for you lot again!