Archives for posts with tag: entertainment

From the early weeks after 9/11 to the early years of the Great Recession, Scrubs was Bill Lawrence’s quirky, emotionally charged medical dramedy focusing on the launch of an emotional young doctor’s career. Sandwiched between two of America’s biggest 21st century crises, Scrubs was goofy, imaginative, and light-hearted; but at its finest, Scrubs shone with emotionally visceral moments. Unfortunately, due to writing and network conflicts, Scrubs‘ later seasons lose the show’s original vision, focusing instead on romantic couples, indie rock, and non-sequitors. The last three seasons of Scrubs show a writing staff unsure when or how to end a show, with the finales of seasons 6-9 respectively being an increasingly less satisfying series ending than the oft-bemoaned ninth season. Perhaps an attempt to return the show to its roots, Scrubs: Med School axes most of the beloved regular cast, leaving room for Zach Braff to be replaced by a blonde girl, and James Franco’s younger brother to provide a truly skeezy, silver-spoon baby doc.

Less queerbaiting, more fratboy rapist. Who knows what Med School would have given us?

Less pretentious queerbaiting, more rapey trust fund baby. Who knows what else Med School would have given us?

Numerous factors could be blamed: network marketing pressures to keep up with contemporary TV trends (visual non-sequiturs, up-to-the-minute current events humor, and frequent celebrity guest stars, as made popular by Family Guy, South Park, and numerous shows but also 2000’s Simpsons, respectively), Zach Braff’s ego machine, or network instability, as expressed during the Writer’s Guild of America Strikes in 2007, and the subsequent move from NBC to ABC. Originally framed as an innovative look at the contemporary world of medicine — at a time when the viewing public essentially had ERGeneral Hospital, and Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman to inform them of the goings-on in the modern medical scene — Scrubs eventually became a bloated mess of two dimensional stock characters and zany non-sequitur “fantasties.”

Somehow, they never followed the Simpsons into texturized fantasies.

The 10th season was (probably) just going to be J.D. imagining everyone in 8bit, Legos, and other textures.

Being one who serial watches shows on repeat, and being one young enough to say I grew up watching the show, witnessing Scrubs‘ slow-yet-gradual quality decline was upsetting. The first three to five seasons of the show demonstrate the best character development, situation dramas, and even non-sequitur fantasies. In these seasons, J.D. can still be viewed as a sensitive young man, learning about life, women, and medicine; as the fifth season passes, J.D. is in his thirties, aware he views all women posing in breezy stripteases to sexy, high octane rock music. Indeed, by looking past Scrubs‘ base story, numerous fascinating narratives emerge: not just the rich & complicated stories of the supporting cast — best friend/maybe lover Turk’s journey as a black surgeon, Turk’s wife Carla’s struggles with mental illness, their turbulent and sometimes rocky relationship, to name only three — but thematic tales exposed through critical lenses.

I see cis people!

I see cis people!

Longtime Scrubs fans may know the Janitor’s alternate history. Watch the first three seasons if you’ve never heard this: surely an inventive series ending, right? But, in a world where cinema has only a base-at-best understanding of what it calls “craziness,” is it possible that we’re watching nine series of a young doctor struggle with a nearly debilitating mental illness the best way he knows how? What if the non-sequitur “fantasy” segments are delusional lapses from reality?

Most young professionals I know  experience catatonic moments, now that I think about it.

Most young professionals I know experience regular, minutes-long catatonic episodes, now that I think about it.

Throughout the initial first three seasons, the Janitor and J.D.’s “day-dreaming” are initially infrequent, limited only to respective solitude and/or illustrating visual metaphors (e.g. feeling “hit with a load of bricks,” J.D.’s temporary reality lapse has him signing for a load of bricks to be dropped on him from a delivery service in a patient’s room, before cutting to commercials). The first three seasons are more focused on J.D. & Turk’s journey from intern to full-fledged doctor; J.D.’s affects on his superiors, Dr. Cox & Dr. Kelso; and J.D.’s on/off girlfriend Elliot, and her journey from insecure girlhood to semi-secure womanhood. But as the series progresses, the “fantasies” grow more vivid, progressing to where staff members are aware of J.D.’s all-consuming lapses from reality, and act accordingly when the young doctor is enraptured by his mind (some play pranks on him, others are left helpless until he snaps back to reality).  Perhaps the progression of an undiagnosed mental disorder? During the middle seasons, J.D. increasingly unaware that his “fantasies” are ongoing, resulting in abrupt outbursts in front of his patients and colleagues. In the show’s last true season, even J.D. is fully aware of his “fantasies,” to the point where some even seem involuntary (e.g. the introduction of Courtney Cox as the chief of medicine. J.D. is aware of his aforementioned fetishization, and quickly grows bored, despite the fantasy continuing).

In fact, if someone (other than me, someone with the time & Internet skillz) were to cut internal monologues and non-sequiturs from Scrubs, the viewer would be left with a show about a young male doctor’s increasingly frequent lapses from reality, and how he fails to fully recognize his mentor’s codependent relationship with his ex-wife; his best friends’ troubled marriage, with one seeking help for mental health issues; and the psychological and emotional obstacle course he and his kinda-sorta girlfriend run, culminating in a lukewarm, who-even-cares relationship for the series finale.

Presented with no context.

Presented with no context.

As her own woman, Elliot Reid was an ambitious and naive intern, shaken by her first years as a doctor, but ultimately creating an identity outside of her domineering family and growing into a strong, confident doctor. Until she finally gets her man and throws it all away to become a cliche stock character. In fact, Elliot — and the story of Scrubs — become immediately more fascinating if we see J.D. justifying her as a woman, when in fact, she’s really a man, being incorrectly perceived by a mentally unbalanced man with sexual identity issues. What if J.D. visualizes all of his male partners as out-of-his league attractive women?

A stretch? Overthinking? Sure. But, what are the odds that a proper Connecticut family would really name their Aryan daughter a man’s name? What are the odds that jokes & comments about J.D.’s sexuality only begin after the introduction of a guest doctor played by an actor who was believed straight, but turned out not to be , and grow more prominent as the show — and J.D.’s mental illness — progress? In fact, with the exception of Kim, the woman who was shown giving birth to J.D.’s baby, and Lisa, the woman with whom J.D. experienced erectile dysfunction, why do all of his girlfriends have gender neutral names? Eliot, Alex, Kylie, Danni, Jordan, Jamie, Julie (Jules), Nina (Niño?) . . ?

Danni Sullivan's first marriage

Or, Danni Sullivan’s first marriage?

Anyone who spent time In the Closet could likely attest that, as they attempted to maintain the appearance of straight, anxieties surrounding someone discovering their true sexual identity grew to the point where they might see an accusation in an insinuation, an insinuation in a joke, or otherwise overreact. With Zach Braff having played both gay and mentally ill characters before & during the early seasons of Scrubs, respectively, we see a series of uncanny coincidences, and anyone who spent time In the Closet can say a thing or two about “uncanny coincidences.”

Uncanny coincidences.

Uncanny coincidences.

With the advent of reality television and the popularity of up-to-the-minute current events humor, writers and producers found themselves trying to capture a story as quickly as possible, most of the time unaware of the additional stories they would create once time distanced the reality created. Through this logic, it is possible that Lawrence’s team unknowingly told a cohesive meta-tale on metal illness and sexual repression, just two of many narratives lying within Scrubs. In the end, whether you’re a serial watcher or an occasional viewer, a show about life in a hospital* can teach you about the world of medicine, socio-economic tales in the era before Obamacare, or about the inner workings of a sexually repressed white boy.

Or not. That’s the beauty of postmodern analysis, no?



*See what I did there?


Hey y’all,

After a two year absence devoted almost solely to working and expanding my photo portfolio, I’m back to blogging. Partly inspired by being featured for my photo work at the first annual Oregon Burlesque Festival, I am now working full time on writing, photography, and event promotion. I’ll have to write about all of those in a bit, as I’m now trying to get into a daily writing habit again. If one is to write for important publications, one should be able to spit out regular writing samples.

My favorite burlesque starlet from the Oregon Burlesque Festival: Nani Poonani's "The Killing Type"

My favorite burlesque act from the Oregon Burlesque Festival: Nani Poonani’s “The Killing Type”

Funny that I’m coming back to this after two years and four days. I’ve got ideas on critical pop culture discussions. Scrubs. Lindsay Lohan. Silence of the Lambs. Clickbait and native advertising. Lady Gaga and Obama. (Sidebar: Lady Gaga tweeted me a month ago and I’m still getting notifications. Perhaps I should write about that.)

I can also do interviews, too! I’ve got at least a handful of musicians and performers I will soon profile. It’s all a matter of time in a day. Also, a pending radio show on a popular podcast! So many posts about to happen, ohhhh my children, you don’t even know!

I’ve also been working on SEO optimization. Among the other sites that I’ve worked on over the past two years, I’ve worked on directories related to Portland neighborhoods, national casinos, and smoking products. Oh, the glamorous life of a modern writer.

Except for the racist plot elements, more or less an accurate depiction of my life these few years.

Except for the racist plot elements, more or less an accurate depiction of my life these few years.

I also have been back Portland a month since spending a week and a half in Germany, and three days in New Jersey, and a magical night in New York City. I took many photos, as well as notes on photos, fashion, art, architecture, musings, etc. I even got me a pair of lederhosen, which I promptly spilled coffee all over during a hung over/sleep deprived shift as a burlesque show ticket taker. Of course.

There’s a lot coming ahead, so stick around, get comfy!

Teachers are underpaid. Scientists are misunderstood. Firemen, for all their sexy calendars, are devalued. These have been staple comedic truths for decades. Who is to blame for this injustice? Entertainers! With all piles of money, their loose morals, their luxurious gluttony, their skimpy outfits, their shiny whores, it is they who must answer for this travesty. After all, they don’t contribute anything to society. Just mind-rotting smut. Right?


“The poor bastards. Can barely afford clothes.”

Obviously, this is a bullshit conversation, and one I hope has never happened word-for-word. It may even be out of date, given the economic plague of past years, and rumblings that the music industry, among other Hollywood machines, are themselves broken and outdated. But there does seem to linger this unspoken rivalry between the realms of education and entertainment. Education is important, but underappreciated. Entertainment is indulgent, but gets more money and societal attention than other noteworthy careers.


“LTR: Education, entertainment, and me, circa 2006.”

This is a more realistic representation of the wage discrepancy, the main point of contention in the War on Useful Careers. And I must pause briefly to note that, in my discussions of pop culture, I’m not usually referring to more traditionally “high brow” forms of art, like orchestras, fine art, theatric or operatic acting, etc. These people are dramatically underpaid, given the amount of training and finesse that makes up their performance. This is not to say that there isn’t an un/conscious effort to devalue the arts. No, that’s another point entirely. Rather, this paragraph is to let you know that we’ll be focusing on “low brow” arts: pop culture and all her facets. Pop music, television, sports, movies (sidebar: my body is in pain for not typing “films.” The lengths I go to for you!), tabloids, all of it. Despite the fact that, yes, low brow pop culture does not always offer much in mental substance, it is an important media to understand. Pop culture is a reflection of society, and even its ugly bits have meaning.


“We hope.”

Education and entertainment are two single working mother systems that have had to collaboratively raise the lot of us bastards while our meat parents went Off to Work. (They’re not together, these parent systems. They might be divorced lesbians: one having us during the week, the other on weekends and holidays. Their marriage was a mess.) Education is the disciplinarian mom, the one assigned to with homework detail, moral development (or psychological programming), and keeping those bastards in line. They’re good kids, really, but just so damn frustrating.


“The popsicle, like, represents talent, and the glasses totally represent altered states of mind, you know?”

Entertainment, meanwhile, gets to be a Pohelerian “cool mom,” the one who “forgets” to lock the liquor cabinet, who teaches her kids about style, self-esteem, and kissing-and-beyond. Or, alternatively, consumerism, self-perceptive moral development, and sexuality. Media consumed in childhood is used as a tool for worldview formation, for understanding the self and the other, and for instilling and perpetuating cultural myths. Likewise, as we mature and advance, education and entertainment continue in their functions. Underneath it all, there is no real split between education and entertainment because entertainment is, among other things, a tool for learning. In the end, many people end their formal educational training, but continue it in the Real World, where Mommy Entertainment has lived for their whole lives.


“She’s one of those ‘cool’ moms, in case you’re online and not aware of ‘Mean Girls.’ Some crazy how.”

By this point, you may be saying “Andrew, we get it! Pop culture kind-of matters! We get the why. What about the how?”

Well, that, my dears, will be elaborated upon in future pieces. This is the “inaugural blog post,” where I introduce myself, my voice, and my mission. Before we can see concrete examples of how pop culture matters, we must first start a conversation and freely admit that it matters. After all, they do say that the first step in fixing a problem is admitting one exists. So let’s raise our glasses, comrades, to the beginning of a glorious cultural revolution of understanding. Or to the latest in an online dredge of two post-and-dead blogs. You’ve been on the Internet longer than I have, you should know where this is headed.


“You knew exactly where this was headed.”