It is hard being a cynical misanthrope these days in the age of “every child gets a participation trophy,” where we are somehow expected to celebrate everyone else’s mediocrity and care about their mundane, nonsensical problems like how filtering ruins an Instagram photo. They expect you to smile and play nice, complimenting someone on that just amaze-balls guacamole they made from organically grown, ethically sourced avocados that unnecessarily cost twice as much, even though you know the person is wholly incapable of stringing together two sentences with anything other than monosyllabic grunts. Our culture attempts to inculcate us with the deluded and erroneous notion that we can all just hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and get along because we’re just all such special snowflakes deserving of love and respect.
For those of us who balk at these approaches to life, here is a guide to television that will feed your cynicism and get you through the next protest by tragically maladroit millennials filled with little more than infantile feelings. So, pull up a cocktail and bathe in glorious animosity.
The great misanthrope on television, Dr. Gregory House hates his patients and is bored by any common disease. As he says, “Treating patients is what makes most doctors miserable.” He only takes on patients that no other doctor can figure out and solves the problem after thoroughly mocking his boss, employees, best friend, and the patient. A firm atheist, House sees religious people as ignorant and delusional, and he refuses to tolerate any social norm that perpetuates stupidity. Always remember, “Everybody lies. The only variable is about what.” Partake of this show for season after season of erudite and witty insults and a main character that is a self-destructive, brilliant drug addict.
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
We all wish we could be a curmudgeon. Larry David grants that wish in Curb Your Enthusiasm where he plays a fictionalized version of himself who expresses the disdain we all share for people who can’t park, small talk, line-cutters, abuse of sampling privileges, public displays of affection, freeloaders, human contact, friends, fans, not leaving a suicide note, inviting people over, and many other minor infractions worthy of criticism. So, if you can’t stand these and other socially unacceptable behaviors, then you will think this show is “pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.”
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
Horrible people do horrible things. Nothing more can be said.
Political shows often enjoyed by millennials today are Parks and Recreation and Scandal, two unrealistic portrayals of people in general. They love the former because it is about perky government employees that just want to do good in the world (silly) and the latter fulfills their soap opera needs. Veep, on the other hand, portrays a more realistic version of the government where the politicians really only care about power and the vice president’s staff is filled with careerist narcissists and incompetents yes-men. Want to know how screwed up government is? Watch this.
House of Cards (Netflix)
Effective government sometimes requires setting aside democracy, threatening global war, manipulating journalists, and a few murders. And Frank Underwood knows about effective government. Through consistently breaking the fourth wall, House of Cards gives a glimpse into the mind of a radical utilitarian who loves his wife like a shark loves blood in the water. Enjoy a show about a ruthless power couple who will do whatever it takes.
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Ok. This isn’t a cynical show. I just love the Dowager Countess as she is so 19th century elitist. Some of her best quotes:
“I know several couples who are perfectly happy. Haven’t spoken in years.”
“I was right about my maid. She’s leaving to get married. I mean, how could she be so selfish?”
“Don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle class.”
“It always happens when you give these little people power, it goes to their heads like strong drink.”
“One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.”
You’re the Worst (FX)
What happens when completely messed up people date? You’re the Worst chronicles the antics of a narcissistic, British writer with a foot fetish who dates a cocaine-loving, clinically depressed PR agent who is turned on by funerals. Both of them are so self-absorbed they refuse to care about, and even mock, their friend with PTSD from the Iraq war. If you’re tired of saccharine romantic comedies where everything is about content couples with trite problems, then this is the show for you.