I haven't been to the beach in years. Not for lack of opportunity — I live 20 minutes from the south shore of Long Island and have spent most of my recent summers unemployed. It's not that I can't go, it's that I won't. Because whenever people go to the beach, something horrible happens.
And no, this isn't a shark attack thing. It's not a sunburn thing or a tidal wave thing or even for fear of the Kraken (although they are just waiting for us to drop our guard.) It is, in fact, the simple, rational fear that going to the beach will result in a traumatizing social situation. Scoff all you want (our articles have scoff-detectors now) but every single person I know who has gone to the beach has wound up involved in some kind of morbidly unpleasant public spectacle.
Okay, it might not quite help that every single person I know is a character on a television program. But you work with what you have.
It must have been written in the television handbook that the "beach episode" should be laden with emotional disaster, because every series since the 1970s has brought its cast members to the shore only to toss them into a horrid, Lord of the Flies-ian explosion of despair. Just in case you've managed to make it through your life enjoying sunlight and the company to the soundtrack of tumbling waves, here's a quick way to nullify your love of all things beach, using the most prominent tool of psychological destruction that America has at its disposal: Television.
So, no one told you life was going to be this way. Clap clap clap clap. You get stung by a jellyfish and then your best friend and future husband has to urinate on you in order to assuage the blinding pain. Clap cl—wait, what?
Yes, naïve vacationers, that’s what happens when you go to the beach. When Monica, Chandler, and the rest of their codependent harem headed out to Montauk for the Season 4 premiere, the future Cougar Townie was the victim of a bloodthirsty invertebrate. But little did she know, the sting would play second fiddle to the lifelong humiliation that comes along with having your neighbor, and the eventual father of your children, pee on your leg as a means of inexpensive painkiller. Also, Joey was there.
There are a few things that are most certainly acceptable to lie about: your weight, being distantly related to David Duchovny (who’s gonna check?) having once seen what was definitely a UFO. But you really shouldn’t lie about being a marine biologist. Because that damned beach will get you.
When George Costanza paid an innocent visit to the shores of Long Island with his new girlfriend — who just happened to be under the impression that he was a marine biologist — what should happen but a whale winding up beached and dying just off the coast. At the behest of a forming crowd, “expert” marine biologist George springs into action, walking brazenly into the hostile tide. He might have saved a whale that day, but his gallant admittance to the truth about his occupation cost him the love of the one that could have been. That damned beach will get you.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Granted, everywhere the main cast goes on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia breeds trouble. But their Season 6 voyage to Atlantic City brought things on to an unusual degree of chaos. Mac and Frank drifted off to sea, devoid of rum ham. Dennis and Dee got themselves involved in an assault and robbery. Charlie spent the night of his life with the girl of his dreams… only to have the entire thing turn out to be an ecstasy-induced blackout on her part. Life-threatening danger, multiple felonies, and heartbreak. That’s the beach all over.
Dude got punched in the face.
Thinking about skipping out on work, heading down to the water for some tanning and a light swim? HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING?
Back when The Office was a show you weren’t embarrassed to admit that you still watch, Michael Scott took his faithful band of paper suppliers down to the world-renowned beaches of Northern Pennsylvania, and forced them through a physically and mentally exhausting series of competitions to determine who might take his old job after he has been promoted to Dunder Mifflin Corporate. The horrid locale also forced timid Pam Beasley to explode into an aggressive hothead — character development, shmaracter shmevelopment, she’s just unpleasant now.
Six season about how the beach sucks. It might help you finally come to peace with your horribly misguided life choices, but still.
Do you know just how horrible the beach is? It’s the first place the New Girl cast thinks to visit when they discover that Nick Miller might be dying. The dank, morose connotations with the most dastardly geological formation are so overt that the human mind hears “Death!” and immediately jumps to “Beach!”
Nick, Jess, Schmidt, CeCe and… Winston? Was Winston there? Oh, what does it matter. The gang embarks on a nighttime excursion to the shore so that Nick can attack the beehive of remorse that has been his 30 years of life by diving headfirst into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan. This ploy of redemption is shot down immediately by the inherent malaise of the sand-laden hell and its saltwater brethren. No amount of chut-è-ney can sate the emotional starvation burned deep into your soul’s stomach after a nighttime beach trip.
The Brady Bunch
The Brady clan’s three-part trip to Hawaii is a necessary mention on this list of despotic oceanfront outings. Young Bobby happens upon a cursed relic that involves his entire family in a survey of tragedy, involving a near-death experience for Greg, and, quite frankly, nothing else that I actually remember. It’s The Brady Bunch. How much of it can you be expected to actually retain without being considered legally brain damaged?
Although we never found out exactly what happened to the study group when they headed to the beach that fateful St. Patrick's Day, we know that it ended in a popped raft, a friendship-threatening fight, and some very toxic lovemaking between two psychologically damaged peers.
The captain of all horrible television beach excursions. The Cunninghams and perpetual houseguest Arthur Fonzerelli find themselves involved in a television antic so bad, that the entire phenomenon of TV shows being ruined was actually named for it. And where does this particular event take place? If you can’t figure that out by now, then you should really write an angry letter to your synapses. Draped in a leather jacket and propped aboard a high-powered jetski, the Fonz dares to risk his own life and the reputation of a once stellar ABC sitcom to change history forever, shocking audiences worldwide with the episode when Happy Days jumped the shark. Littorally.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter.
[Image Credit: NBC]
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Today is Star Wars Day. Why? Oh, it has no relevance to the film’s original production or release, it’s because today is May 4th, and that’s easily turned into May the 4th, which sounds like May the Force if you say it with a lisp. So in honor of this fake holiday I’d like to carry over a tradition from my personal favorite fake holiday: Festivus. And as well all know, Festivus begins with the “Airing of Grievances.” So, in the immortal, but re-purposed, words of Frank Costanza, “I got a lot of problems with you, Star Wars! And now, you’re gonna hear about it!”
First Grievance: You’re an abuser.
All corporations take advantage of their consumers, that’s just the way business works. Consumers put up with it because we realize that the tiny part of our soul that we’re selling away is totally worth it. But it is possible to reach a saturation point where the fans are putting in more than they’re getting back, and Star Wars is dangerously close to that tipping point. In the past I actually gave the Star Wars brand a pass on this front, because its fanbase was a fluke in the media world. Star Wars didn’t need to make concessions to fans, since fans were clearly having a riot with all of the Star Wars merchandising and fan-made goodies the world over.
But then today, on Star Wars Day, no less, they went and pushed themselves over the age. They had already announced that they’d be revealing the full specs of the upcoming Blu-ray set today. What they didn’t announce was that fans have to go and share the website to a certain number of friends before it would give them more info, pics and various snippets of the upcoming Blu-rays. Yes, you read that right: Star Wars was holding its goods hostage from the fans until the fans spread the website like an STD.
Just show us the damned goods, already. You’re frakking Star Wars, for crying out loud. I’m pretty sure the entire world knows you exist. You don’t need another 500,000 likes on Facebook. Quit outsourcing your marketing department’s jobs to your fans.
Second Grievance: I don’t care about your Blu-rays.
Oh, I want to care about them. I want to badly. I’m not even going to promise that I won’t pick them up when they come out this September. But I don’t care about them coming out because you’re not giving the fans what they want: the original, unaltered trilogy. None of this special edition bullshit, thanks. My son is going to see Star Wars at home in the best way possible: on VHS.
The year is 2011, Gods damn it. The best way to watch any movie, let alone Star Wars, should not be on a home video format that’s been around since I was a kid. (Yes, I realize that Laserdisc is actually the best way to watch the original trilogy at home, but since I don’t have an LD player, my indignation stands.)
Third Grievance: You, Lucas!
My son tells me your company stinks! You couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe... I lost my train of thought.
Fourth Grievance: Just give up the 3-d conversion.
Don’t you have enough money already? Are you really going to convert all six films to 3-D just to bilk even more cash from your already abused and plundered fanbase? Is your heart frozen in carbonite?
Seriously, what is the benefit here? No one likes 3-D. Sure, it was an interesting, worthwhile aspect of Avatar, but it hasn’t done a thing for the movie going world since then except jack up ticket prices. If audiences are already growing tired of new release movies going the 3-D conversion route in early 2011, how do you think they’re going to feel about a 3-D conversion come 2012, when you release The Phantom Menace? Spoiler alert: No one is going to thank you for it. They’ll hate you even more.
Please, please, please stop squandering decades of good will on transparent attempts to suck every single drop out of your own well. Believe it or not at your own folly, Star Wars, but fans do have a breaking point. And you’re pushing us ever closer to it every time you open your mouths these days. Take a break. Go a few months without announcing yet another new insult to the original trilogy. I promise you that people won’t forget that Star Wars exists.
Michael Jackson made a rare appearance in court last week in a $21 million breach-of-contract lawsuit, but it wasn't the case that had everyone talking; it was his face. Reuters reports when Superior Court Judge Zel Canter told the pop oddity to remove his surgical mask, his bizarre appearance prompted gasps from the courtroom audience. Photos of Jackson, who sported eyeliner, lipstick, a spotty goatee and bandage over his nose, caused a brouhaha on the Internet and now plastic surgeons are weighing in. "He is almost a fantasy figure or a cartoon character," Dr Edward Domanskis, a Newport Beach, Calif., plastic surgeon, told Reuters. "At the age of 40, people don't...look that way." Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Laurie Casas added, "You have to wonder how someone has gotten in a situation where they look very abnormal. He's got kind of a shrunken skin, but it's impossible to speculate on how it happened."
Jason Alexander, best known for his portrayal of George Costanza on Seinfeld, has a new gig. The actor, who dropped out of Boston University in his junior year, is teaching undergraduates at the University of Southern California as the School of Theatre's first George Burns Visiting Professor, The Associated Press Reports.
A wad of Elvis Presley's hair sold at auction Saturday for $115,120 to an anonymous bidder, the AP reports. Presley's former hairstylist Homer "Mr. Gill" Gilleland collected the hair, about the size of a baseball. Before Gilleland died, he gave the hair to friend Tom Morgan, who sold it through the auction house MastroNet Inc.
The anti-smoking lobby is outraged that James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan agreed to smoke cigars in the latest film Die Another Day because it is set in Cuba. According to Britain's Sunday Times, critics have dubbed the film Buy Another Day, saying it is littered with blatant plugs for a variety of brand names. Britain is expected to outlaw the use of cigarettes in films and TV dramas next year.
Denzel Washington will reprise Frank Sinatra's role in Paramount Pictures' remake of the 1962 political thriller The Manchurian Candidate, Variety reports. No director is attached to the project, which was penned by Sum of All Fears scribe Dan Payne. The film, based on the 1959 novel Candidate by Richard Condon, is about a Korean War veteran brainwashed into trying to assassinate the president.
Cable TV's Sci Fi channel sent a team of archeologists to conduct a study on the southern New Mexico desert to find out whether a UFO actually crash-landed there in 1947. According to Reuters, the program promises never-before-seen eyewitness interviews, late-breaking revelations and a "smoking gun bombshell." Viewers will have to wait until the channel airs The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence on Nov. 22 for answers.
ABC News anchor Peter Jennings has formed an independent production company that allows him to make documentaries for other networks, the AP reports. The deal gives Jennings ownership of his series and allows him and his executive producer, Tom Yellin, to sell documentaries to other networks, with the exclusion of competitors NBC and CBS. ABC has agreed to pay for and air at least four reports in primetime each year.
Astute TV viewers may have noticed an influx of Elton John songs in their favorite shows lately, including NBC's Scrubs, UPN's Enterprise and HBO's Six Feet Under. According to Variety, Universal Music Enterprises offered extended terms and dramatically lower-than-usual licensing costs to networks in a bid to market last week's release of Elton John: Greatest Hits 1970-2002.
Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell said her latest album, Travelogue, may be her last. Mitchell, 59, blasted music industry executives in the December issue of W magazine, saying, "They're not looking for talent. They're looking for a look and a willingness to cooperate. And a woman my age, no matter how well-preserved, no longer has the look." She added, "What would I do? Show my tits? Grab my crotch? Get hair extensions and a choreographer? It's not my world."