Skip to main content

BuzzFeed: What’s Behind Our Obsession With “Too Many Cooks”

Adult Swim’s surreal satire of sitcoms subverts our expectations of nostalgia. You might be able to go home, but it will never be the same.

"Too Many Cooks" began as an Adult Swim parody that aired on Cartoon Network's late-night block for a week or so at the end of October, but since then, the surreal and twisted 11-minute video has gone viral in a way that even its creators, Chris "Casper" Kelly (Squidbillies) and Paul Painter, have been gobsmacked by. What is it about this short that has exerted such a magnetic pull on so many?

"Too Many Cooks" is, on the surface, initially a parody of 1970s and 1980s sitcoms that once populated the television landscape. These are the types of shows you might recall watching from the couch of your grandparents' house, shows like The Brady BunchThree's CompanyFamily Matters, and Perfect Strangers with their familiar theme songs and title sequences, once hallmarks of the sitcom form. They're insidiously comfortable in a way; it's often impossible to watch just one of these. Networks wisely capitalized on this, building entire programming blocks around anodyne shows — many of which were family comedies — that were, in their ways, almost identical to one another. There's a setup, a beat, a punch line. Cue the laugh track and pause. There's a cheer when a beloved character enters the room, an audible and predictable reaction whenever a character kisses another or when a character gets in trouble or puts another in their place. 

This is the communal language of television; we all know and understand these cues instinctively — know when to laugh, when to grimace, when to cheer. On "Too Many Cooks," it may not be exactly Family Matters or Perfect Strangers that you're reminded of, but an infinite number of other, similarly structured sitcoms that are recognizable callbacks to a very different time in comedies. It's a conceptual lure, rather than a specific one, that "Too Many Cooks" casts out, capturing an era before the rise of single-cams and the eradication of theme songs and title sequences. It was still a time where everybody knew your name and, as the song tells us, they were always glad you came. Where the actors would stop what they were doing and look up and smile at the camera, a literal welcome to the viewer, a psychological semaphore waving right at you, the actor's name emblazoned in yellow beneath their toothy glare. Because it's part of our pop culture DNA, we know instinctively what this signals and what it represents. It is pure bubble gum nostalgia, saccharine and devoid of calories, and that look of false acknowledgement toward the viewer makes us complicit in what it's selling.

Continue reading at BuzzFeed...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

BuzzFeed: "The Good Wife Is The Best Show On Television Right Now"

The CBS legal drama, now in its sixth season, continually shakes up its narrative foundations and proves itself fearless in the process. Spoilers ahead, if you’re not up to date on the show. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, " The Good Wife Is The Best Show On Television Right Now," in which I praise CBS' The Good Wife and, well, hail it as the best show currently on television. (Yes, you read that right.) There is no need to be delicate here: If you’re not watching The Good Wife, you are missing out on the best show on television. I won’t qualify that statement in the least — I’m not talking about the best show currently airing on broadcast television or outside of cable or on premium or however you want to sandbox this remarkable show. No, the legal drama is the best thing currently airing on any channel on television. That The Good Wife is this perfect in its sixth season is reason to truly celebrate. Few shows embrace complexity and risk-taking in t

BuzzFeed: Meet The TV Successor To "Serial"

HBO's stranger-than-fiction true crime documentary The Jinx   — about real estate heir Robert Durst — brings the chills and thrills missing since Serial   wrapped up its first season. Serial   obsessives: HBO's latest documentary series is exactly what you've been waiting for.   The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst , like Sarah Koenig's beloved podcast, sifts through old documents, finds new leads from fresh interviews, and seeks to determine just what happened on a fateful day in which the most foul murder was committed. And, also like  Serial  before it,  The Jinx may also hold no ultimate answer to innocence or guilt. But that seems almost beside the point; such investigations often remain murky and unclear, and guilt is not so easy a thing to be judged. Instead, this upcoming six-part tantalizing murder mystery, from director Andrew Jarecki ( Capturing the Friedmans ), is a gripping true crime story that unfolds with all of the speed of a page-turner; it