Awkwardness. I can’t escape it. It’s on my television; it’s on my computer screen. The inability for people to effectively communicate and avoid all things awkward seems simply impossible in today’s entertainment, and there’s no way out for me. I’m trapped in a jail cell with walls made of Lena Dunham’s outfits in Girls and Michael Cera’s squeaking voice — awkwardness used to be the new cool and now it seems it here to stay and I’m suffocating from all of the tension.
Why don’t I enjoy the A-word? Why can’t I just accept that social dyslexia isn’t going anywhere, you ask? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I deal with it all day. From missed high fives and accidental hand grazes to excruciatingly long silences on the elevator with the girl from 3B, there are countless times in my everyday life when I can satiate my awkward cravings. Oh that’s right, I don’t crave that feeling. My dream-self would avoid all of these types of moments, but life isn’t perfect so I accept that I breathe extremely loud when I listen to music with headphones on. But that doesn’t mean I have to be subjugated to other people’s neurotic behavior. I’m looking at you, Tony Shalhoub.
Even in my living room I’m a prisoner. I flip on my television and boom, there’s Steve Carell on The Office doing his thing. When I change the channel the A-word follows me: one minute it’s Zooey Deschanel on New Girl then it’s every guy on The Big Bang Theory. It’s like all the network heads collectively sat down and said, “This year we’re embracing awkwardness.” There’s even a show on MTV flat-out called Awkward — it’s like they simply got too lazy to even beat around the social anxiety bush. Granted, they also have shows called Underemployed and 16 and Pregnant, so I assume they just like to really spell it out with their show titles — I digress.
Needless to say, in this past week alone, I’ve had several moments that I’d like to permanently block out from memory: clogged toilets, slips on ice, unbuttoned flies — the list goes on and on. So when I come home from a long day of sweaty palms and mumbled goodbyes, I want to escape from that world, not dive deeper down the awkward wormhole. But alas, there is no hope for me. The highest-rated reality television series live off awkward tension, it’s like fuel to producers as this point. Shows like American Idol and The X Factor would be no more if every contestant they aired was actually talented. Hell, Wipeout is dedicated to the physical and emotional embarrassment of those that could never truly escape high school gym class.
If I wanted to watch awkward things I’d go to a club with my roommate and try to make friends. But that sounds excruciating, so why must I watch that on my television? Give me action flicks with Jason Statham-types jumping from burning buildings in tailored suit jackets. I’ll even take Steven Seagal in a kimono fighting a ninja because he can deliver his lines without a purposeful stutter. But if I have to watch Kristen Stewart head bob and stumble over another line while blinking uncontrollably one more time, I’m going to chuck my television out the window.
So this is all that I ask, oh gods of television and cinema. Give me back my unnaturally perfect leading men and women; write dialogue crispier than a McDonalds chicken nugget. Alienate me with everything glamorous and perfect, just please don’t let me see my awkward self on television in the form of another neurotic character that still lives with his mother. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m late for a date at Taco Bell with a girl I met on Craigslist.