Here's the plot of Bridesmaids in one sentence: Former cupcake shop owner flips out in the run up to her best friend's wedding. Here's the tweet I tweeted about Bridesmaids during its opening weekend:
I didn't see Bridesmaids during its opening weekend, but it turned out nobody needed my raggedy little ticket for one anyway. The ladyfest ended up being Judd Apatow's top-grossing movie yet, bringing in millions and millions of dollars. Before you knew it, entertainment folks were talking about a "Bridesmaids effect." (Let me save you some heartache -- the "Bridesmaids effect" isn't that thing where you temporarily develop an eating disorder to fit into a tacky-ass dress you'll never wear again.)
Not that I've actually figured out what the Bridesmaids effect is yet, but I hope it has something to do with imagining women in comedies that aren't strictly rom coms. For hundreds of years we've been told that Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston are comedians, yet there's a sturdy sameness to their roles: beautiful, down-to-earth women who are unlucky in love and happen to fall down a lot. Boom. Rom com. Bridesmaids featured an obese woman having explosive diarrhea in a sink. If that's not a game-changer, I don't know what is.
See this, Sandra Bullock? Try telling us you're tuned in to the average woman's problems now.
Here's the other thing I suddenly realized after watching Bridesmaids -- it takes decades to get funny. Young little twentysomethings getting paid big bucks to shill jokes are the exception, not the rule -- at least when it comes to the ladies. Here's a little math I put together for this article:
Kristen Wiig - 38
Tina Fey - 41
Amy Poehler - 40
Sarah Silverman - 41
Chelsea Handler - 36
Mindy Kaling - 32 (She barely made this list, thanks to math.)
Amy Adams - 37
Jenna Fischer - 37
Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Cuddy from House and Princess Buttercup - all 45. FORTY-FIVE!
I fudged the last group ... they're not individually known for comedy. But put them together and you're only a few years from the next Golden Girls reboot. Imagine the possibilities!
We could all laugh about the inevitability of death because Princess Buttercup is a grownup now.
I suspect the actual Bridesmaids effect has nothing to do with recognizing non-Covergirl spokesmodel comedians and everything to do with riding the ladytrain to the bank ... which is probably why 2011 was graced with The New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, Whitney and I Publicly Declare My Hate for My Teenage Daughter, Yet Wonder Why We Have Relationship Problems!
True story: 2 Broke Girls is all about an odd couple of gals who dream of nothing more than running a cupcake store ... talk about nailing what it means to be a woman in 2011.
When Modern Family debuted in 2009, I completely wrote it off, just because it was a family sitcom. I don't know about you, but when I go back and watch sitcoms from the 1970s and '80s, I vomit soft-focused sugar over the opposite wall. For about 20 years, there was a steady continuum of very special episode awful, covering everything from the evils of alcohol to the dangers of a sitting president's wife infiltrating your school and humiliating you in front of your classmates ... before molesting you in her bike shop.
The '80s were a horrible time.
Which was why I was surprised by Modern Family. First and foremost, the writing is really good. As in I don't need a looped recording of people convulsively spewing "HAHAHA!" to make me aware of the jokes. Ultimately, I could just end the entry here, because I can't make the same statement about many other shows on TV right now. But quality writing isn't even why I picked Modern Family. I picked it because it's like looking in a mirror, but one populated with much taller, more beautiful people with way better skin and straight bangs.
For example, here's a real-time Instagram picture of me, my little sister and the white-haired leprechaun who lived with us during my childhood:
When I recall her face I just hear screams.
Here's another one. It's a picture of me, my kids, my dad, his kids who are also the same age as my kids and the gay couple that I wish I had in my life, but don't, for some terrible reason that is unknown to me:
I'm the redhead.
Chances are, you know someone who's in the same family boat -- one with step-siblings and new marriages and different shades of skin color. And if you don't, just wait. This is the reality of a world where people are living longer and making babies longer. Well, not literally making long babies. That would be horrible.
Modern Family pulls off the sentimental family stuff in a way that hasn't been attempted since The Wonder Years ... but with more jokes and with people who look more like America looks today. And it works.
I took a leap of faith and picked a song that I'm guessing most of you don't know. I did it on purpose. If you're still game, watch this:
There are about 38 reasons why I picked "The Honest Truth" by Typhoon as the song that best represents 2011, but let me just list two or three for brevity's sake. For one, the lyrics:
"So be kind to all your neighbors
Be kind to all your neighbors
Cuz they're just like you
They're just like you
AND YOU'RE NOTHING SPECIAL
Unless they are, too."
Bold type mine. If there were something I could drill into the hearts and minds of all American children, this would be it. Be nice. You're not so special. Stop slouching.
Your miracle of creation just pooped in my hand.
Which brings me to the other thing I love about this song -- there's a freaking village of people performing it. All of them on a stage, each playing an instrument that he had to practice years to learn. Watching these Movember-faced musicians perform this song reminds me that despite all the crap going on in the world right now, good lord, kids are still learning how to play instruments. Horn instruments and stand-up violin instruments and things that look like toy keyboards but aren't. For every hundred hipsters out there talking about the magic of music and putting cliched text over retro-looking images and calling it art, there's at least one kid who's really dedicated to learning a craft that he's going to one day beat you over the head with. Because he (or she) is so good.
And then maybe he'll gather 72 of his friends and write a kickass song for you.
The last time it took me 14 years to accomplish something, I got a woman's body out of the wait. Here's what else I've gotten done in the time it took to finish making Duke Nukem Forever:
I didn't actually use them for Christmas. I just hate trees.
I'm not going to lie, I know nothing about video games. I've decided everyone needs a quirk, and the fact that I don't enjoy video games is mine. So I picked Duke Nukem Forever as my game of the year for a few reasons. One, I knew my coworkers were going to pick awesome games. They play video games (all day long) and they know what they're talking about.
Two, even a Luddite like me has heard of Duke Nukem. That's a joke I can get in on. And then I actually watched a few minutes of the game. I guess it's a game. It's either a game or a hate crime against 2011. Yes, the hero shoots pregnant women and holds feces in his hands like some kind of monkey man. That's not even the weird part. The weird part is how not cool it is. I'm trying to imagine guys who I know for a fact are smarter than me, better educated than me and have more common sense than me sitting down and writing dialogue like:
"Oh yeah! I'm bringing sexy back."
"Bonjour, le hot stuff."
"I'm gonna rip your eye out and piss on your brain, you alien dirtbag!"
Is this where we congratulate him? I mean, this is what a toddler does, right?
If that's 2011 in a nutshell, I'm pretty sad about it.
On second thought, I change my mind. I'm going with Portal 2.