The IT Crowd came highly recommended to me from a number of people, most notably Doug of Doug’s TV Reviews, as well as Communies of many sorts. This cultishly classic Britcom launched the careers of the very adorable Chris O’Dowd and Richard Ayoade. It appears to be somewhat iconic among nerdfolk for its representation of wacky computer supporters. Here’s my problem with it: it sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Brits. I grew up on Benny Hill and Monty Python, and watched a whole lot of Red Dwarf and Black Books among other British delights. I have my Brit cred, Gwenhwyfar can attest to that. I am familiar with the British taste for silly and wacky scenarios that lack subtlety. I’m okay with that, too, because someone needs to carry the torch for the comedies of yore that required little or no thought to process. And while I’d rip on an American sitcom for being so obvious and for having so little character development, I refuse to fault the Brits for that. It’d be like faulting the Japanese for creating weird monsters.
The thing is, whereas British comedy giants like Fry and Laurie wrote their material by satirizing pop culture and politics (and beating the shit out of Hugh Laurie), The IT Crowd relied on tired old crap. It’s the same trite sexist crap we’ve seen the world over from every half-talented comedian they air on Comedy Central at 4AM. The second episode of the series features lead female Jen furiously attempting to fit into a pair of too-tiny shoes because they were cute, another piece of trite shoe humor that we saw at least a dozen times on Married With Children. Of course, the end of the first series had her bleeding girl parts cause her to give warning of her temper to the two gents in the room. Of course, later on, the be-fro’d Moss opens her door and is greeted by the fires of hell blazing at him.
Listen, dudes. Most women really aren’t that bad when we’re bleeding. We’re a touch irritable but entire self-aware, and we learn self-control by the end of our teens. But male writers have a constant fear of “Irma,” mainly because they want to find excuses for their girlfriends being “bitchy” other than their own shitty self-absorbed behavior. Somehow, male culture has turned a woman’s cycle into the rise of Satan hisself, I find it cliche as well as gynophobic.
It’s just blood, people. I don’t see why you can watch gallons of it splatter all over a movie screen, but are afraid of a little trickle coming out of healthy hoo-ha.
Another delightful stamp of sexist crap was Roy’s assertion that all women want to date “bastards.” Again, this topic has been covered over and over and OVER AND OVER in every medium and in every language (hyperbolous and unprovable, but whatever). And while it is often true that some women date assholes, most women in the online dating world don’t date men that plainly advertise as such. In fact, most women don’t respond to ads on sites either, we usually post ads and the bastards find us.
Then there was the gay episode. While some hetero-folk might find the fishnets and wigs of gay performance art to be weird and obscure, it is nonetheless sparkling and fascinating to watch. It is hard to be turned off by that many pretty colors. What really go me was the character Jen was dating, who was asserting his heterosexuality and had it torn away by our homophobic heroes, all because he enjoyed the gay play. I dunno if it’s just me, but I’ve had enough of people asserting someone is queer (and being uncomfortable about it) because they liked Queer as Folk or watch Drag Race. What the fuck ever. If you’re going to make jokes on gay people, be more fucking clever. Hire George Takei to write some jokes, for chrissake.
That isn’t to say that The IT Crowd doesn’t have its share of coolness. I was pleasantly surprised to see the background decorated with stickers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation saying “Fair Use has a Posse.” I also loved how much Roy got the crap kicked out of him. The second episode of season 2 had a hilarious parody of the famous “You wouldn’t steal a car” anti-piracy ads and a very cute visual joke about the open toilet in Roy’s flat that made me chuckle loudly. As I write this, I’m watching Jen make a pilgrimage to a new smoking spot in Soviet Britainistan, a comical reminder of my own mini-pilgrimages to smoking spots when I used to work in retail.
Then there’s Richmond, the adorable painted-face goth who was released from his server room/penitentiary to grace us with his glittery darkness. From his long dark hair to his foppish red scarves, he is visual goth perfection, something that is even funnier when combined with his yearning addiction to Cradle of Filth. That delicately morose voice owns my attention every time he’s on screen. Every time he looks off into the distance, he can view our souls swirling in the ether. Or something.
I am only nine episodes in, so like any decent TV lover, I’m going to watch the whole thing and perhaps serve an update if it gets significantly better. For now, The IT Crowd has a lot of making-up to do if it wants to make my list of awesome nerd shows.