Morality Tales, A Whoo Ooh (Learn Lessons from TV)

I have this theory that there are some TV shows which do a fantastic job of providing you with comedy, while also giving excellent insight into human behaviour and telling morality tales. Sort of like grownup versions of Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

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Okay before we move on, did you click on that picture yet? Please look just to the left of Heath Ledger at the woman in the mid ground of characters in the distance. Yeah, that’s Lena Headey, of Game of Thrones fame, before she really took off! Crazy right?

Anyway, I’m losing focus here, need to regroup and make a point. Because in the game of thrones, you either win or you die.

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Sorry, I’m done now. I promise.

Where were we? Right, morality tales.

Truth be told, I think most comedy is fully capable of this particular kind of story, and in fact, a vast majority of those television shows labelled as “comedy” are often perfect examples to use if you want a bite-sized point to be made for you and driven home before a pizza delivery is ordered, made, and at your doorstep. And yes, I do have a specific example in mind.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one of those shows that covers that off concepts and principles quite well, and surprisingly often. Sure, it succumbs to the tropes of western comedy, but it’s the subtleties that make us appreciate individual stories. Plus people don’t like dramatic change, which I think I’ve covered before.

Bonus points to the first subscriber who can point it out in the comments section!

What is funny to me (funny interesting, not funny haha), is that I am sometimes surprised by the show and it’s clever use of genre and format to come up with interesting satire of the culture it exists in. And dare I say it, troll the audience.

I mention this because the show is in it’s third season, so you would think I am fairly comfortable with this tactic by now. Especially being a huge fan of shows like Community, The IT Crowd, The Office (British and American), and Archer.

A particularly great example of the show’s brilliance came up just today!

I happened to rewatch the episode Halloween II of Brooklyn Nine-Nine this afternoon while I was helping my girlfriend assemble a table and chairs for her apartment.

I read this review after watching the episode, AND in preparation for my post, and I have to argue that the other author missed the mark of Halloween II.

This episode of B99 does indeed have a lesson at the end of it, and while I may not have noticed it the first time around when I watched a few months ago, I was finally greeted with a clever commentary on assumptions once I let my guard down and simply listened to the characters.

This is the synopsis of the episode as per Wikipedia.

Eager to engage in another bet following last year’s, Peralta and Holt raise the stakes, and Jake enlists a repeat offender to help snag the captain’s watch before midnight, or he will have to do five weekends of free overtime. Meanwhile, Amy and Rosa are upset when Terry doesn’t punish Gina for skipping out on her duties at the precinct to attend dance practice. It is revealed that Gina has been secretly going back to college which has caused her to miss dance rehearsals.

And here is my commentary –

Jake Peralta assumes he has the drop on Captain Holt when he does his second annual halloween prank wager, this time much larger than the previous year. He is sadly bested by Holt, who has been preparing for a year and led Peralta into a trap, with the aid of the squad. The other assumption comes from Sergeant Terry Jeffords, when he first assumes that Gina has a good reason to step out of work, and then a second time when he learns that Gina has been negligent but doesn’t understand it’s because she has been going to school and got kicked out of the dance troupe she founded.

Terry tells Gina at one point, before getting the whole story, that “she has a baditude,” which is funny of course, but also really smart of the writers. The audience also has a baditude, thinking they know how the episode is going to unfurl, but in reality they’ve made some bad assumptions, and that just isn’t true!

What do you think? Is my theory off the mark?

I’ve written about the polarizing concept of “handedness” being hereditary, and possibility of genetics of motivation as well, but I don’t think I have tackled art and DNA just yet dear readers. This week’s Stimulating Sunday post is part I of another post on assumptions.

So stay tuned, and I hope I’ve given you something to think on.

Tim!

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