You could argue that it’s a little silly to pick on a tiny show like Bored to Death. The HBO comedy has been averaging roughly a quarter of a million viewers this season, a number that barely even looks impressive on YouTube anymore. Or maybe the better comparison for Bored to Death is to an old-timey public access series, the kind of haphazard production a group of locals would organize back when the average local American still had time for hobbies. After all, the concerns of Bored to Death are so concerned with an extremely specific sliver of contemporary Brooklyn – the upper-middle-class Manhattan-expat media-employed all-white corner of town – that I wouldn’t be surprised if the 250,000 viewers who tune in weekly are all concentrated in a few square miles between Prospect Park and the BQE.
But Contrarian Corner has a democratic doorway. We run a need-blind admissions system. If we’re going to deconstruct chipper zeitgeist multimedia megahits, once-great sitcoms, and critical-establishment sensations, then we must also turn our brutal truth-crossbows onto the smaller mediocrities: The unkillable dregs of pop culture, which float like an annoying butterflies and sting like a bees that can’t write believable dialogue. And that is why I’m here to today, my friends in Contrarianism, to loudly proclaim my true feelings about Bored to Death.
Specifically, I want to explain how Bored to Death makes me want to travel back in time about nine decades to stop all my various great-grandparents from ever meeting each other, thus preventing any of my immediate blood relatives from ever being born, and therefore ensuring that no one I love will ever have to live in the world that somehow allowed Bored to Death to become a thing.
The show is an embarrassment of riches wasted on meaningless, navel-gazing cuteness. Creator Jonathan Ames is a brilliant essayist whose prose overflows with a profound self-awareness and an ability to invest even the most normal situation with a hilariously bleak sensibility – something which is strikingly lacking in his television show, which can make even the most hilariously bleak situation seem banal and boring.
Bored to Death is actually based on a great Ames short story, but in the translation to the screen, Ames removed the story’s Chandler-esque corners and replaced them with a pair of funny sidekick characters who wouldn’t have looked out of place in a post-Pocahontas Disney flop. Ted Danson has been justifiably praised for investing his George Christopher with a sense of Cary Grant-ish class. But because he’s so unsupported by the series’ writing – after three seasons, George’s primary character trait is still pot-smoking – Danson’s participation in the show is beginning to feel like a brilliant never-ending cameo.