Doesn’t it suck – like, really kick-you-in-the-heart devastating – when your favorite TV show, the one with all the accolades and the usually bang-on writing, pulls out one of those tired-and-true TV clichés? Like the time your beloved character thinks they’re so high on drugs, they start doing really weird and erratic – aka “liberating” – things only to discover they were actually on placebos. Or when a character throws his or her back out and is forced to stay immobilized for the entire episode, and, of course, “hilarious” hijinks ensue.
It’s frustrating, I know.
I also know that you’re so incredibly disappointed at this total disregard for originality that you can’t help but shout at your TV when it happens: “Really? This again? C’mon! Sweet grandmothers don’t always have a potty mouth and edgy girls don’t always have short hair, OK? OK?! UGH!”
I hear ya. I’ve been there. We all have. Unfortunately, no matter how fresh and unique a show might be, it will inevitably recycle the same exhausted tropes because, well, there are a million of them, and writers are on a deadline and sometimes the muse just doesn’t visit, etc.
But, hopefully -- by the grace of the TV gods -- these are the first five that can stop right now.
1. Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
First of all: not fair. Secondly – are you kidding me, TV? I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but really how sexist can you be? Are you telling me that men are so vain that they would never go for a woman with so-called average looks even if she has a killer personality? On the other hand, do you really think women have absolutely no standards? Is it because you believe women would rather marry anyone at all -- even schlubby Jim Belushi or Kevin James -- just to be married? Hollywood: you gots to figure out your sexism issue, stat.
2. Love in an Elevator
This trope was best exemplified in the pilot of ‘The Mindy Project’ when Dr. Mindy Lahiri met her ex-boyfriend in an elevator. The “meet-cute” was clearly set up as a cliché, but unfortunately, was recycled as reality when the two characters started actually dating (which, the character pointed out, is what happens in rom-coms). This trope is also used on ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Mad Men’ when going up or down always mean down. These sure must be magic elevators because a whole lot of stuff apparently gets done in just a matter of seconds, or maybe they’re just really long.
3. The Strip Club
Chances are if you’re a gangster (holla, Tony Soprano!) or, really, just any ordinary creepy guy (see every police procedural, ever), you hang out at and/or own one of these places. Then, there are those wild and crazy episodes where a single (or married) man goes to a strip club to blow off some steam, throwing crumpled bills at a woman, while looking absolutely miserable despite all the female flesh. Of course, things get even crazier when women go to the strip club and get all into it like when the girls on ‘Friends’ did and then ended up convincing a stripper to return to teaching because, you know, you can’t dance nude forever. No, you can’t, TV. And you shouldn’t be using this trope forever, either.
4. The Annoying Laugh
According to this TV trope, if you have an annoying laugh, then, obviously, you yourself must be super-duper annoying. Just check out the evidence: Urkel on ‘Family Matters,’ Janice on ‘Friends’ and Kitty on ‘That '70s Show.’ All three had a distinctively obnoxious laugh, all of which made us assume they were as exasperating as their notable chortle, but if you think about it, all three characters weren’t exactly fleshed out. What did Janice do for a living? Where were Urkel’s parents? Did he have a healthy relationship with them? Was Kitty OK with Red’s temper? Who knows?! So, how about we put a moratorium on the maddening laugh, and get back to some good ol’ characterization.
5. The Exotic Animal in an Urban Space
Look, I’m the from the city who brought the IKEA monkey into our lives, so I know that seeing exotic animals walk amongst us in the city is really intriguing and highly entertaining (especially if he’s wearing a fashionable coat). But, just like the IKEA monkey, exotic animals in urban spaces are way overplayed and often used when people (meaning, writers) are bored and want to jazz up their (meaning, characters) lives. Marcel the Monkey in ‘Friends’ never worked. Neither did that horse on ‘2 Broke Girls.’ So, I say, let the animals be free (from our TV screens)!
The “I just threw up a little bit in my mouth” joke.
I throw up a lot whenever I hear that overused and never-funny, so-called “joke.”
Talking gibberish just to prove that someone isn’t listening. e.g. “Then I saw this unicorn and he was speaking to me on a plate of spaghetti and then I got hungry, so I ate a meatball and they were made of gold and I can say whatever I damn well want because YOU AREN’T LISTENING!” “Huh? What’s that, dear?”
Just stop. No one does this, ever. Ever. So why do we accept it from our TV characters? Why?!
The psycho ex-girlfriend/boyfriend.
OK, I know we all have that one ex we wished we never dated, but did she really crash her car into your house? Did he really put a goldfish cracker in a fish bowl and acted like it was real? NO.