A part of the human condition is to try to better understand the things around us. One way we do this is to break things down and examine them in detail. Through analysis we can determine how something is made, what it means, who it was intended for, and its social commentary. One show that is interesting to analyze from a social and cultural point of view is Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. It uses uniqueness to draw in its audiences but what keeps the viewers watching is the fact that it gives a voice to many different walks of life and points out issues of power while at the same time making their audiences laugh.
Awesome Show is hard for a lot of viewers to get into right away because of how odd it is and how it seems to have no connection to conventional television. Acording to Jared Andrew Schorr from wired.com “You might think that Heidecker and Wareheim are just crass provocateurs — not an uncommon reaction to Awesome Show, an absurdist, often discomfiting program that reliably polarizes viewers.” But the oddity is one of the reasons people are drawn to the show. As a new viewer watches the show they start to see old television conventions get made fun of like laugh tracks that are put in the show ironically and moral lessons that don’t make much sense and go against what a logical moral lesson would be. One example of a television style that is made fun of in the show is the classic talk show. This can be seen in episode Robin Season 2. In the episode there is a talk show that is about music.
They use certain images of what a talk show should be and how it should look to tell the viewer that’s what they are watching. Then they turn it on its head by making it about something ridiculous and also making it look and feel like it is done by a person who has no clue what they are doing. Tim and Eric take something and change it into something completely new and this is what keeps some viewers coming back to watch more episodes.
One of the other things a new viewer will start to notice about Awesome Show right way is how diverse the cast and characters are. Most races, ages and genders are represented in the show because of the way they cast each episode and because of what the show is about. Tim and Eric hire a lot of people who are not known for anything. They are not hired because of their acting skills but because of who they are as people and then they write roles tailored to who they are. This causes them to not look at their race or age or gender but to look at them as people. This ends up adding a lot of diversity to the cast and the characters in the show. A great example of this is the actor Richard Dunn.
He is an old man who plays himself on Awesome Show. Because he is playing himself it truly gives a voice to an older generation and shows the viewer a new perspective on the world.
The other reason Awesome Show has a diverse cast is because it’s trying to recreate the feeling of cable access while paying homage to it. On real cable access anyone can sign up for a slot and make their own show. To fully capture this feeling Tim and Eric need a diverse cast because it’s not just one type of person making cable access it’s lots of different people. One character that gets his own little segment here and there on the show is this guy David Liebe Hart
He does singing with puppets and he is played by himself. These odd segments in the middle of the show seem random but they add a hilariousness to the show and make it feel more spontaneous. This also causes the viewer to want to keep watching to see what weird and crazy characters will be next.
A final way Awesome Show keeps its viewers coming back is by making social commentary while making the viewer laugh and think about the world. In a lot of episodes they have this fake big company named Cinco. In episode Carol Season 2, Cinco makes a product called Candy Tails.
Candy Tails are a product for kids that are fake braids dipped in candy. Then you clip them into your hair and suck on them. This commercial is for this big company that makes products that no one needs. Tim and Eric are trying to make a comment on big companies being out of touch with what people truly want and need. It’s true there are a lot of products that come out that are really out of touch of what the people need/want. For example a product like Cheetos Lip Balm. Who needs this and way would people buy it? There is no wonder way this never took off. This is important because it shows that big businesses have the ability to buy better advertisement spaces for things that we don’t really need while a small company that might have something the average person needs can’t afford advertising and can’t get their product out to the people who need it. This points out an influence of power in the business world.
Over all, Awesome Show draws its audiences in with its weird new comedy but what keeps them there is the deeper things going on underneath the surface like the odd way they hire people and not worry about their age, race or gender. This results in a more accurate cultural representation of the world. Their desire to recreate cable access drives them to create characters from all walks of life. Not only are the actual actors diverse, the characters within the stories are diverse as well. There is also commentary on issues of power in advertising in a funny way. All of this leads to a funny show that makes the viewer keep coming back for more. At first glance a lot of this stuff is hard to see but as the show is broken down and analyzed it becomes quite clear that there is a deeper look at society and more than just chaos going on.