You kiss your mother with that mouth?

Have you ever noticed how some of our favorite television characters are the ones with the meanest, snarkiest, most sarcastic lines? Here are some examples of what I mean.

Example 1 – Santana Lopez on Glee played by Naya Rivera (2009-present). She’s the mouthy, mean cheerleader who covered up her true lesbian feelings by sleeping around and lashing out at others. And she unarguably has the best lines on the show – one of my favorite of which is when she called Finn a “fatty gassy McGravy pants”. In real life – I would have hated this girl at school. I would have avoided her like the plague to keep from getting my butt kicked, but definitely would have had no respect for someone who treats people the way she does. And yet she makes me laugh more than anyone else on the show. Her insults are so quick witted we wish we had that ability. When Sam recently returned to Glee club after moving away, Santana walks into class reading a barrage of Trout-mouth insults she’d been saving up for him in a tiny notebook – Classic!

Example 2 – Karen Walker on Will & Grace played by Megan Mullally (1998-2006). Come on! The best TV lines ever!!! So good in fact, there is a Facebook app that will send and post daily Karen Walker Quotes on your page. Karen, the spoiled rich, insensitive, drunk, pill-popping wife of a wealthy fat man we never saw, was best friends with flamboyant Jack but repeatedly made fun of Grace’s flat chest and of Will for being a girl. In real life if we had a friend like Karen, we’d try talking her into rehab and avoid inviting her to functions. And yet we loved her! An episode without Karen was just boring. Her lines were unfiltered hard-core honesty, sparing no one’s feelings, and yet delivered in a sweet funny voice making her cute. People rarely got mad at her; they just knew that’s how she was and loved her anyway. Maybe it’s because we all wish we could say what was really on our mind without consequences like she did. Karen Walker Quotes:

“Oh honey, I have a fake laugh with your name written all over it.”

“It’s not something you can just run away from like a hotel bill… or a crying baby”

“By your inflection I can tell that you think what you’re saying is funny, but… No.”

“Oh, how sweet. A gay man living with his mother. Would you like me to preheat the oven, or you wanna just jump right in?”

Example 3 – Maryann Thorpe from the sitcom Cybill played by Christine Baranski (1995-1998). Maryann was Cybill’s best friend and constant side-kick. She was the bitter ex-wife of a wealthy plastic surgeon Dr. Dick, whom she occasionally stalked. She was never seen without a martini or margarita in her hand, and was always up for mayhem, spying & pranks. The cynical remarks were bountiful! This was the first full-time sarcastic, drunk sitcom character that I remember and I loved her. I was a teen/young adult at that time and remember thinking, if only real drunk people were really this fabulous. Maryann Thorpe quotes:

“Will you look at this, all of Dr. Dick’s patients. Let’s start a fire and watch them melt!”

Cybill Sheridan: “You know what is amazing, Maryann?”
Maryann Thorpe: “They make vodka from wheat.”

Leaving her ex-husband a voicemail message: … “Whenever there’s acid rain coming from your sprinklers, I’ll be there. Whenever there are fire ants in your tanning booth, I’ll be there. When you’ve deluded yet another poor unsuspecting X-ray technician into accepting your loathsome advances and a pack of rabid Dobermans jumps into your Jacuzzi and rips the very soul from your body, I’LL BE THERE!”…

What did all three of these women have in common besides being my favorite character on their respective shows? They were all snarky, sarcastic drunks. It’s no secret I love the sarcasm. That one is not hard to figure out. Life without sarcasm would be a bore. I’m not sure when snarky or rude became funny – but somewhere after Growing Pains and Cosby Show it did. And now we are so desensitized as a society, it’s hard to get a laugh without it. The problem is, when we duplicate this behavior in real life, thinking we’re funny, it offends people. People love it on their TV screens but aren’t quite ready to take it face-to-face. (except in some small circles of friends with good senses of humor)

But the one that interests me most is why do alcoholics make the best characters? Is it just me? Is it my way of reliving the drinking years of college when I felt fun? Or does our society glorify alcoholism? I’m sad to say I think we do – at least in the sitcom world. Nobody wants to see the embarrassing, slurred speech, reeking of booze alcoholic that can’t keep a job. That would be sad and real; that would make it a drama. My family has a few alcoholics. Are they funny? Sometimes. Mostly obnoxious. Or secretative and in denial. But definitely not always appropriate. And cool, chic, young successful people in the city would never want to hang out with them. Picture ‘Drunk Uncle’ from Saturday Night Live saying “Pull my finger”. That is the reality of the alcoholic funny man, not the witty lady’s man Barney from How I Met Your Mother.

Don’t worry, I’m still going to laugh my ass off at old Will & Grace reruns. This is just food for thought.

(PS alternate titles I almost went with “Mean Girls” obvious. or “Lush-ous Laughs. Hmmmm?)


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