QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Mr Pickles and Superjail!

After asking for television show suggestions, I got pointed to Superjail! and Mr. Pickles. So I hunted down the pilot episodes of each of them.

Superjail! is a wonderfully surreal romp through a prison even more wild than the chocolate factory Willy Wonka runs. So I continued and I'm at the end of season two now. (It helps that the episodes are 11 to 12 minutes each.)

But Mr. Pickles fell flat for me in that first episode. A lot of the pilot seemed to be wholesome setup - crude denouement, over and over again. It's a one note formula that seemed to be the crux of all the humor. And the wholesomeness in particular bothers me because crude is fine, but crude only as an answer to wholesome is a very lazy way to write a joke, even if the crude denouement part is 100% over-the-top, which it seems to be every time.

Let's just look at the very first joke in the cold start of the pilot.

A guy and a girl are out in the woods. He starts to pressure her for sex and she says "I'm not ready yet". That's the wholesome setup. Then she continues with the crude denouement: "It's only been two hours since the abortion".

There are many similar repeats of this pattern throughout the pilot.

Superjail is not without fault, but doesn't trigger my "lazy writing" alarm.