John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

“Check It Out,” “Tim & Eric:” Intentionally bad TV is still bad

June 7th, 2010

The good news is that Tim & Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job! has finally run its course and played the finale of its last season. The bad news is that they’ve inspired a spin-off starring the slightly funnier John C. Reiley: Check It Out.

Now, I’m usually a fan of AdultSwim and I can look passed the typically low production values and even the low-brow “least common denominator” type of humor. I confess: campy can be funny at times.

Its one thing to have a good idea for a show and go ahead any way despite the silliness of it or the low quality of the content production, but its a whole other problem when “bad TV” becomes the concept behind the low-budget show. And bad TV is exactly what this franchise is all about: Whether they’re “parodying” late night infomercials or cheesy local newscasts, the reproduction of bad TV is just too accurate to be that funny.

Unfortunately, Pitchfork decided to rate Tim & Eric as one of the best TV shows of the decade, so that means an entire generation of culturally dead hipsters know that its the best thing ever even if they can’t describe why beyond saying “its ironic.” Really, what is ironic about finding informercial-like TV on at 12:30 and 4:30 AM? That’s not ironic at all – its exactly what you’d expect to see. Someone told me it was hilarious to see Fred Willard spoofing his own commercials & infomercials, but twenty years ago they ran that joke on Married with Children when he played a Florida swampland timeshare salesman – so don’t tell me Tim & eric is avant garde for re-running a decades’ old gag.

“Ahh, but the joke is the awkward social interaction!” I’ve been told. Great. This is the same reason people like “The Office.”

I’ll tell you what. If you’re really entertained by awkward social interactions, why don’t you just go to the mall and talk to random strangers? Why not go get a job in some random office building? You can have 9 hours a day of awkward socializing and you can even get paid for it, too!

What might be worst of all is that Tim & Eric seem to have some decent comedic tastes – but they only recognize it in other peoples’ work. The guest stars really are the best part of the program, but they’re never written in to any funny roles or situations. Its a glimmer of potential that literally gets drowned out in a sea of poop jokes.

Speaking of Cultural Decline and Rebirth

There’s still an up side to this whole cultural moment – and that is that we’re probably past the worst of the cultural decline. There’s good reason to believe that society repeats itself in approximately 80 year cycles, so we’re currently about 40 years from Woodstock and just about at the bottom point of social output in music, art, and television. If the summer of 1969 has an “opposite” social moment, it would be the thin and plastic mass-media culture that currently dominates through reality TV, spoofs with deadpan accuracy, and auto-tuned “singing” over slow-tempo three-chord riffs.

We’ve come a long way since Jimmi Hendrix, Country Joe McDonald, and Creedence Clearwater Revival shared a stage – and there aren’t a whole lot of people who would say artistic expression is better these days, no matter what age they’re at. For the first time in a while though, its starting to become acceptable for us to demand more – to criticize low standards and insist on some sort of deeper meaning and effort.  So maybe we’re not headed in to a new golden age of jazz and rock & roll.. but things can’t get much worse than Tim & Eric… can they?

tl;dr (for the hipsters):

Tim & Eric isn’t funny.  Everything they did has been done before, and by people with a better sense of humor & timing.  The only original joke here is the one they are playing on their fans, and the punchline hits every time a fan speaks up to defend the shows that are a perfect symbol for the low-point in society’s cultural output.

Sorry, I guess that tl;dr required a whole 30 seconds of attention span.



  • eat cock says on: December 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm


    suck my sweeetttt balls faggot

  • FacePalm says on: December 22, 2010 at 3:02 am


    Well… there are a few things wrong with your rant. For one, you are connecting auto tune music and reality tv with Tim and Eric. It’s safe to say that those are two different audiences that do not connect. Also those “hipsters” that you are complaining are culture dead, is the exact same things people were saying about the hippies that were at Woodstock. I don’t like Tim and Eric because its Ironic. I don’t think “haha its bad tv at 12:30” and I don’t analyze it, I just enjoy it. If anything you are the “hipster” that you damn so much, you like to flaunt your political awareness, and “helping college students” with your shitty blogs. please get off your high horse you aren’t as smart as you think you are.

  • John McDonald says on: December 22, 2010 at 3:22 am


    So you don’t analyze it, but you do troll around the web insulting people who dislike it, huh?


  • scotchallenguarde says on: January 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm


    well then don’t watch the shit,

    quit crying about a show you cant understand,

    and good luck with your journalism career.

  • Jack says on: March 10, 2011 at 2:17 am


    Tim & Eric is the biggest pile of crap on tv. This blog is spot on.

  • Kevin says on: April 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm


    You say “we’re probably past the worst of the cultural decline” and mention the 80 year cycle. I disagree. I think that we are at the start of an unprecedented cultural decline. We now live in a society whose values are almost entirely geared to profit and commercialism – something that is becoming worse by the day. This takes us straight out of that 80 year cycle to somewhere quite different. Think “things can’t get much worse”… don’t bank on it!
    P.S Can I be cheeky and include a plug? I’m webmaster at More Customers Blog

  • Dewey Buyb says on: April 13, 2011 at 9:19 am


    That’s why it’s called entertainment. It’s suppose to entertain you. You don’t need to sweat out just to analyze things. Tim and Eric may not be the best. But they have managed to attract a huge amount of audience.

  • James @ hazard perception test practice says on: April 24, 2011 at 12:45 am


    I agree, Tim & Eric are trying WAY too hard to be funny.

    It ultimately backfires.

    And it’s painful to watch.

    I’m seriously worried about all the people who actually enjoy watching this trash.


  • Thomas says on: June 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm


    I love adult swim. But yeah, I agree with you. Bad humor is just really bad. I am not a fan of the office either. I find it boring.

  • Why says on: July 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm


    Why do Tim and Eric naysayers always site “poop jokes” as something that has turned them off to the show? I own all five seasons and I can only remember one sketch based on poop.

  • Leigh says on: July 9, 2011 at 4:01 am


    @Kevin. Wow that’s a really pessimistic view of the world! To suggest that we are going to continue to decline culturally and that we are in a different place now than we’ve ever been before is a stretch too far. I firmly believe in cycles, and I believe that we will only go so far in one direction before people start saying “enough is enough” and we start to pull back from the precipice. And I believe that we are already seeing that. There is still enough “good” in this world and we are not about to step over the precipice!

  • Lin says on: August 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm


    @ Leigh

    what you say makes good sense. Throughout all generations as far as I can see what seemed outrageous at the time now seems mild and tame. We do go so far and then tend to pull back.

    The Office is a really boring show. It’s not my idea of humour at all.

  • Katriona Briggs says on: September 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm


    “Tim & Eric isn’t funny. Everything they did has been done before, and by people with a better sense of humor & timing.”

    You’re absolutely right, John…we’re on an intellectual decline…AND it is getting worse. I hardly watch any TV anymore because the programs are soooo bad.

    What does this say about our society? Are we really only a bunch of morons who can’t think for themselves. Well, I decided to boycott TV programs that don’t have a real message, and are just using ‘air’ space by being random.

    Sorry, guys, if I’ve come across a bit harsh…

  • Alicia says on: March 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm


    Initially, I hated the Office, but now I think it’s really hitting its stride.

    I do think boycotting useless tv is a good approach, however, you’ve probably noticed that GOOD tv rarely stays ON! They cut good shows quickly.

  • PatD says on: March 29, 2012 at 6:34 am


    I’m so sick of people dogging on Tim&Eric nonstop. I’m not even a huge fan of the show, not the kind of person who would go and turn the channel to it, but people who rant about how people who like that show are morons should take a second to analyze their own train of thought. Someone has a different sense of HUMOR than you, so you decide they’re less intelligent than yourself. Way to go, great job.

  • PatD says on: March 29, 2012 at 6:37 am


    “So you don’t analyze it, but you do troll around the web insulting people who dislike it, huh?”
    So you fail at analyzing a show, don’t think its funny because you have your own individual sense of humor like any human being should imo, and then insult the viewers?
    You must be a very educated person.

  • PatD says on: March 29, 2012 at 6:39 am


    Go hop back on your tractor and putter across your middle-american town. People on the coasts don’t care about you inbred intellectual types and your ill attempt at being a TV connoisseur.

  • John McDonald says on: April 8, 2012 at 8:28 pm


    Ouch, the last one kind of stings because I’ve recently moved out to (what feels like) the middle of nowhere. I just have to remind myself that it is temporary 😛

    Oh, but T&E still suck.

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