Friday, August 29, 2008

People on TV don't just contract herpes out of the blue unless it benefits the plot somehow

Like it? 

Ross. Rachel. Barney Fife. Dr. House. Mr. Furley. Mr. Roper. Voltron. Eddie Haskell. Lovey Howell. Potsie. Punky. Punky's "dad" or whatever. Mr. Drummond. Isaac. Doc. Captain Stubing. Kramer. Barney and Betty. Optimus Prime. Megatron. Gargamel. Samantha. Jeannie. Majors Nelson or Healy. Lou Grant. Bob Newhart. Darryl. Darryl. Lt. Columbo. Buffy. Trapper and/or BJ. Theo. Rudy. The fat quiet kid from next door to the Cosbys. The fat quiet kid's fat quiet father. None of these fictional characters has ever -- and I stress EVER -- contracted herpes for no reason, unless it benefited the plot in some way.

I have not seen, and I feel confident in saying I will never, ever see, a rerun of "Golden Girls" where Blanche tells Rose over their morning coffee that "the basement storage unit is on fire" because she contracted herpes from some younger man she met and had elderly-person intercourse with -- and then Rose grimaces briefly, says some snappy comeback, the studio audience chuckles, and we move on with the rest of the episode nonchalantly without reference ever again to the herpes. It will simply never occur.

I will never turn on my television to see Scully pause while leafing through a manila file folder to wiggle uncomfortably in her chair with one hand discreetly out of sight -- and Mulder will never say, "Something the matter?" and Scully will not reply, "Nothing. Just my herpes flaring up. It'll pass." Never. Not unless the herpes came from an alien and they are investigating this.

Timmy never took Lassie down to the drugstore to fetch his herpes medication. Not even once. And the people behind "Lassie" would never have written such a story unless Timmy's having contracted herpes became integral to the dramatic resolution of the story. Timmy obtained the wrong medicine, let's say -- something dangerous. And he took that instead of his herpes pills. He collapses on the walk home, foaming a bit at the corners of his mouth and convulsing. And Lassie has to fetch help. That might work. But it would be a stretch, narrative-wise.

Nor will I ever, if I live to be a million years old, ever see an old Warner Bros. cartoon where Wile E. Coyote gets a delivery of Acme Herpes Ointment, steps modestly behind a desert rock, appears to apply the herpes ointment liberally to his groin, wipes the excess ointment off his paws onto his thighs, then continues in his latest unsuccessful attempt to catch the Road Runner. Only would this happen if it was necessary to continue the story. Maybe he's trying to lasso the Road Runner and the greasiness from having herpes ointment on his paws makes the rope slip through his fingers. Even then, one might argue why this particular turn of the plot requires Wile E. Coyote to have contracted herpes in the first place -- why isn't the condition he's treating eczema, for instance? Why specifically herpes? Who gave it to him, and how does this affect the nature of his character?

But I can pretty much guarantee it will never, in the history of narrative art, ever happen. I swear, it's not going to happen. Even if they start making new Road Runner cartoons.


Anonymous said...

ummmm... what about "The Simple Life" with Paris Hilton?

New England Bites said...

Paris probably had herpes long before that show existed, and according to those Valtrex commercials, herpes doesn't go away.

Speaking of herpes (and let's hope I never have to type that again), a woman in Rite Aid was standing in line ahead of me at the pharmacy. She kept reaching down into her purse, which she was holding directly in front of her. As I moved a bit to check out some nearby vitamins, I saw that she had no purse in hand. What she was doing was scratching "down there." I just froze. I took a step back just as she turned to me, showed me a tube of herpes ointment, and said, "I hope this works."

So do I, you biohazard.

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