Another fall, another TV season… another year of people telling me that I just have to start watching New Girl.
“It’s gotten so much better since the pilot!” they’ll say. “Everyone is funny now, not just Schmidt — and it handles the will they/won’t they romance better than any other sitcom — and Zooey Deschanel’s wardrobe is adorable!”
All that may be true. But every time I give New Girl another chance — and at this point, I’ve watched at least three or four episodes — I’m left totally cold by it.
Objectively, I should love this show: It’s a fast-paced, goofy comedy aimed squarely at my demographic. (I’m a 20-something female city dweller who enjoys wordplay and sleeveless A-line dresses.) It’s also one of the few comedies on TV created and run by a woman, which wins it automatic points in my book. Yet whenever I fire up an episode of New Girl, the show fails to resonate with me. I don’t laugh at its jokes; I don’t identify with its characters; I don’t swoon when Nick and Jess make goo-goo eyes at each other. It’s not that I think the series is bad, per se — I just think it’s not for me.
Which got me thinking: In the back of everyone’s mind, there must be some extremely popular, critically acclaimed TV show, movie, musical artist, etc. that they know they should like — but can’t seem to get into. EW’s staff has more examples:
Laura Hertzfeld: Everyone will hate me, but I just can’t watch The Wire or Breaking Bad. I have my reasons! There’s a ton of music stuff, but that’s probably more polarizing than movies/TV. Most obvious to me there: Kings of Leon. (Seriously, what is so great about them?)
Tanner Stransky: I just don’t get Breaking Bad. I know that makes me, like, the worst pop culture person ever, but it just didn’t resonate with me — and I tried to watch the pilot a handful of times. I always think I’ll break down and force myself through the first six episodes in one sitting, but I’m never really compelled to do it. Total fail on my part.
Samantha Highfill: The Big Bang Theory! It’s just not funny. The acting isn’t great. There’s no comedic timing. They definitely use a laugh track. They rely way too much on stereotypes for their jokes. It’s awkward and NOT funny.
Maricela Gonzalez: My main confession is that I can’t get into Mad Men. I thought it was because it’s about insufferable white people with no redeeming qualities, but that’s most shows — and I like those.
Grady Smith: Definitely Girls. I keep being told that it’s so honest, so real, so funny. Well, perhaps I’m just a lame square (and to be fair, I usually am, except when it comes to Miley), but I just don’t know a single person that acts/talks/thinks the way any of those people do. That would be fine if it ever made me laugh, but it just doesn’t.
Darren Franich: Theoretically, I should be a huge fan of Jack White. I like entertainers who constantly reinvent themselves. I like musicians who can actually play music. I like artists who place a lot of value in knowing the history of their medium, but are also able to dodge the anxiety of influence and do their own thing. Aesthetically, Jack White just seems more “authentic” than pretty much any guitar-playing musician right now. Also, he tours with an all-female band AND an all-male band, which is the kind of weird-and-sort-of-interesting rockstar affectation that barely ever happens anymore. (And he’s in a feud with the Black Keys! I support feuds!) But for some reason, everything Jack White has done since the White Stripes has left me cold. And that’s a lot of everything: By my count, White has been in about seventy different bands and released six hundred albums, not counting a (terrible) James Bond theme song. Every one of those albums was much-beloved by smart people whose tastes I completely trust; I listened to every one of those albums and felt absolutely nothing. I even tagged along with a friend of mine to a Jack White concert last year, and except for the (totally awesome) renditions of White Stripes songs, I couldn’t get into it. I don’t find him boring or bad; it honestly feels like, when I listen to his music, I’m not listening to anything.
So confess with me, people: What’s the popular pop culture phenomenon that you just don’t get?