3
Sep
2011
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week
Mandyville
the Staff
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week is a bi-weekly journey into the headspace of the Review to Be Named gang, in which a pop-culture question is posed, answers are sought, and discussions are generated about issues and hypotheticals from throughout the realm of pop culture.

This week's question comes from our own Sam, who asked,
What character from a television show (current or past) do you wish would be sent to Mandyville? For those of you poor, poor individuals who aren't conversant in The West Wing and are therefore unaware, Mandyville is the dark place in the recesses of TVLand where awful, annoying characters are sent to disappear and never be heard of or from again.


Sam

OK, since I came up with this one you'd think I had a bunch of ideas in the bank. Well, you'd be wrong. When thinking about this I had to return to the inspiration--Mandy. Bland and useless, Mandy made many West Wing fans lose interest whenever her plucky face appeared on screen. In my decision I'm going to look at what Mandy could have been rather than what she was. She looked as though she would be the on again/off again of Josh. Of course their chemistry fizzled and Lyman was able have much more interesting relationships down the road. Aaron Sorkin had an idea for this character and likely had a vague plan for her. It didn't work. Luckily, he realized it early on in the series and fans only had to see her for the first season. The show flourished with her departure. I think everyone could agree The West Wing was better for never mentioning her existence after the first season.

That's why I think Ted Mosby should be sent to Mandyville. How I Met Your Mother had great plans for Mosby. An epic love story spanning many seasons (or just one if they got cancelled) that would reveal the mother of Ted's kids in flashback. Quite frankly, it was a genius concept to base a sitcom around. Everyone knows going in to most of these shows that the main character is gonna fall in love and get paired off, then have kids and then the show ends. The problem is How I Met Your Mother has found a way to slap its fans in the face for sticking with the show. Ted is now the character that is worth the least of your attention. Surrounded by Neil Patrick Harris' Barney, Jason Segel's Marshall, Cobie Smulders' Robin and Alyson Hannigan's Lilly makes Ted look like the odd man out. The show seems to refuse to just get on with it and let us actually get to know the mother. But no. We need fake-outs and flings that go nowhere so Ted can "learn what he wants" or "take that step". It all feels pretty meaningless now as the show seems to have storylines that have nothing to do with the fucking mother. So let Ted go. Just have future Ted narrate the stories that his friends are having. The Lilly-Marshall marriage and baby thing is a show in itself as is the hijinks of Barney and his inevitable coupling with Robin. Quit wasting our time and move the fuck on, Ted.



Jordan

First off, because clearly it has become a Review to Be Named custom to shit on the first response, I have to say that I disagree with Sam. Though I think his point about Ted's uselessness and wheel spinning of late is a valid one, I think that is more a problem with the current state of the writing on How I Met Your Mother than with the character himself. Either way, I've handed off reviewing duties on that show to Sam this season (due to my busy law school schedule, I've chosen to spend my little available criticism time on shows that are not so far past their prime, but Sam was willing to dive on that grenade for me), so you guys will probably hear a lot of anti-Ted talk in that space this season. Look forward to it!

Anyway, I considered cutting James Hurley out of Twin Peaks (and if we get to choose when in the series run the character disappears, I would have cut him out after the seven episode first season). James served his purpose in the show's first season as the James Dean-type Laura Palmer would totally have fallen in love with, but carrying that forward into season two there was nothing left for him to do. And if he hadn't been around, we never would have had to deal with that god awful subplot following James as he leaves Twin Peaks and falls into a sub-TV movie level noir plot, which was easily the low point of the entire series and perhaps single-handedly why people stopped watching the show, leading to its cancellation and to people wrongly claiming season two of the show is terrible (nothing with David Duchovny as a drag queen DEA Agent and David Lynch himself as the stone cold deaf chief of the FBI Gordon Cole can possibly be terrible, right?).



Yet I finally settled on cutting Carla Espinoza out of Scrubs. A one note character who played that note fully in the show's pilot, Carla not only stuck around for eight seasons (I refuse to recognize the show after "My Finale" existed) to stick her nose into people's business and be extremely haughty, she also dragged Turk down in the process. A series-long relationship is a difficult thing to write without hitting the same beats again and again, but Turk's potential as a character was actively damaged by his constant relegation to relationship plots with a character who never seemed to gel with the rest of the show's ensemble (I love her relationship with Dr. Cox, but that's all John C. McGinley). A character that not only annoys and feels like a waste of space, but one that actively drags other, better characters down into the mud with them? That's someone who deserves a nice, big house in Mandyville.





Michael

At the risk of getting kicked off of staff almost immediately, I have a bone to pick with Firefly. Namely, River Tam. Now at the risk of insulting both Joss Whedon and Summer Glau, which would normally earn me a death sentence from the nerd hivemind, any time River comes on screen it's like the whole story shudders to a halt. I get it: messed up, kick-ass girls are cool. It carried Buffy, and it carried Dollhouse. But River is different; she's just a vessel for abuse, utterly passive for the most part and a huge jolt of cognitive dissonance whenever she comes into play. Her ramblings are tiring and the relationships built around her are cloying, especially in a series where every other character is perfectly drawn. And you know what: I don't need that in a show about cowboys in space. Cowboys in space are already cool. It is absolutely impossible to make that concept any cooler. Government conspiracy? Don't care, let Nathan Fillion say something snarky and shoot a bad guy dead.


Though not a fictional character (though I have my doubts she is an organic, carbon-based human being), I wouldn't mind Padma being kicked off of Top Chef altogether. Her feedback is short, unhelpful and often asinine, and her line reading reminds me of elementary students putting on a Brecht play - bewildered incomprehension. Though, to be fair, I would rather the show just be Anthony Bourdain and Tom Coliccio getting drunk on gin and verbally harassing the weaker chefs until they cry.



Becky

As for the comments above, I completely agree with Jordan about Ted on How I Met Your Mother. He does get annoying, and isn't as interesting as the others, but he is necessary. As much as I hate to, I also agree with Michael about River on Firefly. She is always the character I forget about and the story line that I don't care about. She had some potential, and I wish I could have seen where she could have gone if the show hadn't been cancelled. But in its current length, she just can go away. I disagree about Padma on Top Chef, purely because every reality TV show needs a hot host. I don't love Padma, she doesn't seem to know much about food and as far as I know her only connection to the restaurant business is her husband is a chef, but she wears pretty clothes and says the show's sizzling one line well enough. While Padma herself could serve to be replaced, the role she plays on the show is important to those of us who care about the food, and don't just want to see the chef's cry.

One character that needs to go is Patty's driver in Millionaire Matchmaker. I know you are all judging me but I love this show, it is my guilty pleasure and the new season just started so I am currently obsessed. They keep trying to introduce this character so Patty has someone to talk to when she goes to see the rich singles who don't know how to date. But they have so far had over 3 drivers in 1.5 seasons. The driver sucks, he has nothing to add to the show. He is only there to try to make Patty seem like she can be friendly and has actual plans for the millionaires. But we all know whats up, all the millionaires want are a bunch of pretty girls for them to pick between. Patty's only job is to provide those "10"s and to make the guys not scare them away. I don't need to watch her tell her driver about some elaborate strategy or to complain that the millionaires are spoiled and hard to work with. Stop ruining my guilty pleasure!



Rachel

Simply because I hate her, I would love to say that Betty Draper of Mad Men needs to disappear, but if I'm being objective I recognize that she is pretty crucial to the story. Still doesn't mean I wouldn't like seeing her relocate to Mandyville now that she's finally moving out of the Draper residence with good ol' Henry Francis. And since Michael already got the jump on me and picked River from Firefly, I guess I'll go with another blond I find incredibly annoying: Sookie Stackhouse of True Blood.



Yes, I know that the show is (now loosely) based on a series called the Sookie Stackhouse Novels. And yes, I recognize that Sookie is the main character. But her centrality to the plots of True Blood has become a hindrance. I feel like I say this in basically everything I write for this damn blog, but the supporting cast of True Blood has outgrown it's oft-naked starlet. As the writers have brought in a plethora of new supernatural species (werewolves, werepanthers, shapeshifters, fairies, witches, vampires....you name it, True Blood has it), Sookie has become, for me at least, incidental. We basically know that while she's on screen, she will either be naked, fucking someone in some ridiculous locale, screaming, or being helpless (or all of these things at once!). And every moment spent watching her do these things is a moment taken away from the real HBIC of Bon Temps and it's surrounding environs: the fabulous Pamela Swynford De Beaufort, played perfectly by Kristen Bauer. In fact, I really wouldn't mind if Sookie somehow got killed off (finally!) and the show completely recentered on Pam and her hotter-than-hell maker Eric Northman, played of course by that gorgeous Swede Alexander Skarsgard. Not to spoil the current season for anyone a little behind, but the above clip of Sookie getting fired is the best characterization of her basically ever (hit the nail right on the head, not-actually Sam Merlotte!), and I can really only chalk up her continued presence/adoration to her apparent allergy to clothes.





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