Welcome to the 1st Whenever “That’s Absurd” Awards, honoring the best in absurd TV!
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We here at TV of the Absurd are always excited to see a TV series that carries on in the footsteps of the great Theater of the Absurd masters, Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Victor Borge.
What? You have no idea what I’m talking about? Then this imaginary production number is just for YOU!
(Imagine fifty girls and a polar bear, all in random costumes, dancing the Hustle on a giant drum.)
The term “Theater of the Absurd” generally refers to a group of plays written in France between the mid-1940’s through the 1950’s. The plays paid homage to the deep thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre who liked to push the idea that life is meaningless and in the end you die. (Life of the party, that Jean-Paul.) They employed illogical situations, unconventional dialogue, and minimal plots to express the apparent absurdity of human existence.
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And the winner is. . . . The CW’s Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants!
We here at TV of the Absurd have never seen a show that so epitomized the absurd concept.
Let’s take a closer look:
French playwright Alfred Jarry’s Ubu roi is an early example of absurdist theater that is known for its mocking of theatrical conventions.
Crowned is so on-point in its mocking of beauty pageant conventions, from the forced smiles, to the pageant wave, to the cheesy music and bad talent presentations. And can we talk about those thrones that the judges sit on? Mocking at its finest!
Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano portrays a group of characters who are incapable of true communication and who have no apparent purpose in their lives. The play has a circular structure, ending in the same way that it began.
Crowned has mothers and daughters who are naturally incapable of true communication, many of them lack purpose in their lives (What trait of my daughter’s would I like to have? Why her dark hair, of course.) and as for it ending as it began. . . well even the eliminate contestants were back for the final production number.
Samuel Beckett often reduced character, plot, and dialogue to a minimum in an effort to highlight fundamental questions of human existence.
Character? Plot? Dialogue? If they were any more minimal on Crowned they’d be mimes in a box. No, they’d be Waiting for Godot! If only Gina would have slipped with the scissors in that Ambush De-Sashing! But alas, the closest we got was when that one team ran for it when they were about to be eliminated.
Absurdist theater was also influenced by the theoretical writings of Antonin Artaud in Le théâtre et son double which called for a theater that would jolt audiences and thereby stir them to action.
Crowned had Patty throwing up, Mindy fainting and Laura chastising her mother for screwing up the talent portion on national TV. Each event stirred me to action. I hid my eyes, I gasped, I yelled “loser!” at the TV screen.
Yes, the Theater of the Absurd movement rejected all traditional theatrical conventions of logic, characterization, language and plot.
And so, indeed, did Crowned and that’s why the series is the winner of the 1st Whenever That’s Absurd Award from TV of the Absurd.
You must remember that the first absurdist plays often shocked audiences. They were left confused and unsure of how to react, but today that avant-garde style of entertainment is widely accepted — especially on network TV.
(Glorious parting music swells up, pageant waves all around.)
TV of the Absurd would like to thank all of the people who made this award show possible, but sadly there isn’t time. Your local news is next with a story about serial killer loose, right now, in a typical suburban neighborhood. Is it yours? Stay tuned until the end of the newscast for details.
Theater of the Absurd definitions courtesy of MSN’s Encarta, photos courtesy of The CW