TV shows addressing their detractors

What are some examples of TV shows answering to their detractors? Probably the most famous incident of our generation is the “Itchy, Scratchy, and Poochie” episode of “The Simpsons”, where “Worst. Episode. Ever.” was born. The nerds who nitpicked at Itchy & Scratchy and gave detailed critiques to each episode were parodies of the newsgroup hounds who did the same about OFF ( for “our favorite family”).

On “South Park”, in response to claims that the series was nothing but bad animation and fart jokes, the producers created “Terrance & Phillip”. It’s a fictional cartoon, loved by the South Park kids, that’s nothing but bad animation and fart jokes (and in the movie, foul language).

But my favorite TV response to criticism is “Queer as Folk”'s “Gay as Blazes”, the ground breaking gay show of the QAF universe. Instead of silencing their critics by parodying themselves, they slyly did the opposite and gave them exactly what they asked for. “Gay as Blazes” was everything QAF wasn’t. It featured a perfectly interracial (I think only one was non-Hispanic white) group of intellectual, monogamous gays who whiled away their hours brunching together a the home of a host, discussing politics, and denouncing promiscuity. The show was, of course, abysmall (but bafflingly a hit in the QAF world). The producers seemed to be saying “There. Is THIS what you wanted to see?” I loved how they just left it there for you to “get” it - I don’t recall any characters ruining the joke by pointing out how GAB runs counter to their own experiences.

So what else is there? I specified TV shows because I want to only include responses to actual criticsm, not anticipated criticism, of which only series are capable.

Well, there was the famous episode of “Murphy Brown” where they took on VP Dan Quayle’s criticism of TV’s supposed glorification of single motherhood in shows like…“Murphy Brown.”

The Italian-American community that ranted and raved about The Sopranos sullying their image were addressed directly and indirectly over several episodes. The most significant had to do with a Columbus Day parade where Native Americans kicked up a big stink about the brutality of Columbus.

The other main episode had Dr. Melfi’s ex being all upset over the bad image Italians got. That didn’t go all that well for him.

There was an episode of The Family Guy that began by Peter walking in to the living room and gathering his family around for some bad news: they had been cancelled!

Peter Griffin: Everybody, I’ve got bad news. We’ve been cancelled.
Lois Griffin: Oh no Peter! How could they do that?
Peter: Well unfortuantely Lois, there’s just no more room on the schedule. We just gotta accept the fact that FOX has to make room for terrific shows like Dark Angel, Titus, Undeclared, Action, That 80’s Show, Wonder Falls, Fast Lane, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, Skin, Girl’s Club, Cracking Up, The Pitts, Firefly, Get Real, Freaky Links, Wanda At Large, Costello, The Lone Gunmen, A Minute with Stan Hooper, Normal Ohio, Pasadena, Harsh Realm, Keen Eddy, The Street, American Embassy, Cedric The Entertainer, The Tick, Louie, and Greg The Bunny
Lois: Is there no hope?
Peter: Well… I suppose if all those shows go down the tubes we might have a shot.

This scene is even funnier now that the Griffins are back on the air.

The scene was the first with the Griffins back on the air.

And Wonderfalls is one word.

There was an amazing ep. of The Simpsons where, a couple days earlier, George Bush Sr. had said something like “America needs to look a lot more like The Waltons and a lot less like The Simpsons!” They ran a clip of that as a cold opener. Homer gasped, and Bart said “Actually, we are a lot like the Waltons. We’re both waiting for this damned depression to end!”

Wasn’t that on the return episode? BTW, what was “Louie”? Was that the sit-com loosely based on Louis Farrakhan’s home life? I always thought that was on ABC.

Also, I just remembered that episode of Drawn Together that was a pretty straightforward version of this phenomenon. The characters read, verbatim, an actual negative review of the show from Entertainment Weekly, had nervous breakdowns, and then eventually went on a massacre at the EW office.

Babylon 5. When they got picked up for their 5th season, the last episode of Season 4 (Sleeping In Light) was kicked to the end of Season 5. The new last episode for Season 4 had an end shot of Babylon 5 with the words “Faith manages” scrawled on it. Just JMS’ tweak at those who said it would never fly.

Lost has had several instances this season where it looks like the writers are responding to various criticisms and comments on the show…

Henry Gale asks why the Losties aren’t asking more questions about what’s going on…
AnaLucia says that everybody hates her…
Ardt, the science teacher who got blowed up, ranted at the main characters first for being so main-character-centric and ignoring the other 35 or so people on the island, to the point where they can’t even be bothered to remember what peoples’ names are…

Saturday Night Live may be the first show to take potshots at it’s own critics. Johnny Carson (who was jealousy protective of ‘his’ time-slot - 11:30 - 1:00, and taken aback at the surprise success of the show) famously panned the Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time-Players during it’s first season. The Saturday following Carson’s rant, Jim Belushi paid him a back-handed compliment by stating “Johnny, we here at Saturday Night Live respect you. We don’t watch your show…but we respect you.”

During the abysmal 1980 season of the show, one episode started with Bill Murray giving the depressed (and viscously savaged) SNL players a pep rally speech straight out of “Meatballs.”

Brian was constantly talking about how unrealistic it was. And at least one episode’s B-story consisted of Emmett going to work as a Naked Maid for a couple just like the main couple in GAB and finding out that they weren’t quite as perfect as they seemed.

“House” made a joke where they shouldn’t do some procedure because it would be “too formulaic”.

Oh yeah. Nevermind. GAB was still funny, though.

The Daily Show, of course. For the first week or so after the set redecoration, Stewart made numerous references to how much the internet fans were complaining about it.

In the episode of The Simpsons that has Troy McClure hosting a special about the TV family, at the end he promised more wacky Simpsns adventures, one of which includes Homer ski-jumping over a shark.

Do I get to be the first to point out that an entire episode of Arrested Development this season was devoted to this?

It’s not “Louie.” It’s Luis, a really awful sitcom starring Luis Guzman.

Damn damn damn! Beaten by 24 minutes!

Married…with Children often attacked Terry Rakolta, although never directly by name.

World Wrestling Entertainment attacked the Parents Television Council (PTC) by making their own villian group, the Right to Censor (RTC).

Bill O’Reilly & Keith Olberman seem to both really enjoy talking about their critics, and, consequently, how superior they are to them