By: Dru Johnston
‘Then after each round I give points ‘ I don’t know why ‘ this show was made up in England.”
The experts that recap television shows for a living all agree: We are living in a golden age of television. But the HBO and AMC shows we love today were influenced and shaped by the classic shows of yesterday. We look at those shows. This week we finish the first season of Whose Line Is It Anyway. Season 1, Episode 9 through 20. The Reveal.
Well I feel like an idiot.
Apparently Whose Line it it, Anyway? is a comedy show.
For the past eight weeks I’ve been watching Whose Line and judging it purely on it’s dramatic value. Comparing Drew Carey to Walter White. Insinuating that The Soprano’s stole its inspiration from a show that, when you get right to it, is basically just a bunch of short form improv games strung together with little to no narrative. Actually no narrative. They all seem to be friends, that’s about it when it comes to narrative. Greg Proops is alive and well, despite my reports that Drew killed him in his sex dungeon. As a professional television recapper I have made a mistake, and probably unjustly ruined a family friendly comedy show for a lot of you. As I’ve always said ‘ a television show is only as good as it’s recap.
But no more. After binge watching thirteen episodes and then doing extensive research I’ve realized that Whose Line is a comedy. Looking back all of the signs were there as clear as day: they made jokes, there was a studio audience that was laughing at what was going on, it made me giggle and feel good ‘ the list could go on and on. And yet I looked past all of this. Who knows why? Breaking Bad was ending. Mad Men was on break. I just got dumped. I needed a television show to obsess about to make me feel like I was achieving something during the day. It was between Whose Line is it, Anyway? and Low Winter Sun. I still think I made the right choice.
After a gruesome argument with my ex I sat down with a pint of ice cream and just plowed through thirteen episodes of Whose Line this week. I said I was doing it for work and was waiting for the big dramatic reveal, but looking back I was doing it because Whose Line is a show you can watch and have your brain do literally no work at all. It’s basically the same episode over and over again. Interesting dramatic choice, I thought as I finished my pint of Half Baked. But then episode 17 came on. And it starred Stephen Colbert.
Wait a second, I thought. Stephen Colbert is a comedian. How do I know? His show is on a channel with comedy in the name. So why is he on this show about a totalitarian dictator forcing people to make up songs on the spot? I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty, but I went on Wikipedia and after about a minute of research realized that Whose Line is not a drama. So I owe my faithful readers an apology.
But now I see the entire season through a new lens. It’s a paradigm shift. And the show is much more enjoyable when I don’t hone in and overly analyze absolutely everything about it. Girls was much more enjoyable when I started thinking of it as just a comedy and not a paradigm-shifting comment on our society. It’s literally the exact same situation with Whose Line. When Ryan and Colin hug the female audience volunteers it’s because it’s funny, not because they’re trapped in a sex dungeon. When Brad Sherwood admits to killing tourists it’s because he needed to rhyme in hoedown, not because he’s a serial killer looking to kill again. I get that now. I still don’t understand why everyone laughs at the points not mattering. It doesn’t seem like a well thought out joke. This show isn’t trying to change how we think of domestic abuse. It’s trying to play short form improv games.
Whose Line isn’t what I thought it was going into it. And that’s okay. But the journey made me realize a lot about myself that I didn’t know before. Not every show has to hold a mirror up to society. Sometimes they just have to hold a mirror up to me. I gave the show a B- for being an ok show, and I’d be fine with it playing in the background of my living room at all times for no discernable reason.
Stephen Colbert was just ok at short form improv.
LAST THOUGHTS OF A RANDOM NATURE
- Colin is a really funny guy and he’s quick and funny. I like every time they make a bald joke, because he reacts in such a silly and relatable way.
- No way are the songs made up on the spot. Sorry, Wayne Brady, absolutely no way are they made up on the spot. They are just too good. I’ve had this argument with my dad a lot this week. He thinks they are and I’m like no way they are just too good.
- Ryan Stiles is a goofball. I think I’d like hanging out with him.
- It seems like the executive producers really love Colin and Ryan and Wayne a lot more than the other cast members. I get that it’s not a scripted drama and they aren’t trying to say anything about favoritism or anything like that but I still think that’s a little fucked up for Greg Proops.
- Drew Carey really does border on sexual harassment a lot in this show.
- Up next I’ll be recapping the first season of Jeopardy. I’m very excited to see what’s in store. From what I’ve heard it’s a show that changed the narrative of what is a question and what is an answer. And in a world where questions are answers and answers are questions Alex Trebek seems the perfect villain.