Post-postmodernity…what a concept!
Is this some threshold of American culture that we are speeding towards, with no sign of stopping? At what point does the deconstruction and absurdization of talk shows, clickbait, sitcoms, and other post-9/11 signs of life reach a brick wall, breaking into a million pieces and necessitating some rebirth?
I don’t mean to imply I want this trend to end any time soon. This storm had been on the horizon long before the year 2000, and its genesis is in shows like Seinfeld, where the conventional notion of “family” and the structure of a TV comedy are picked apart and hung out to dry. Television in general is now a gross, absurd parody of the real world, where the truth is stranger than fiction and dystopia is not so far removed from reality.
The human experience is flipped on its head and explored from a different, very dark direction. Storylines no longer involve heartfelt, tired characters and situations where everyone learns a lesson at the end of the day. The lessons are not warm and fuzzy — in “Rick and Morty”, there is never a happy ending, and if there is it’s certainly not seen that way by the characters. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is tricky when the tunnel is littered with the corpses of those you had so gleefully murdered not moments before.
How do you react to Eric Andre, host and insanity ringleader of “The Eric Andre Show”, when he takes a baseball bat to a porcelain bust of his counterpart Hannibal Buress, smashing it to pieces as he howls with maniacal laughter?
You don’t. The reins are forcefully taken from your hands and Eric Andre rides backwards into Hell, while Hannibal sits in the passenger’s seat and shakes his head mournfully as reason and order give way to undying chaos.
Forrest MacNeil, the straight-faced host of the life-review show “Review”, eagerly becomes a racist and destroys his happy marriage (among other things) for the endless pursuit of knowledge. His thankless journey is a Bizarro take on Faust’s deal with the devil for the forbidden fruit of knowledge, though in MacNeil’s case the devil is society. How apt.
Any conventional notion of normalcy is tossed out the window and set on fire. The line between the actor and their character is gone, and Life itself is the main player on the stage that is the universe, standing alongside the ant-like humans that litter the Earth.