Last week a parody of HBO and Lena Dunham's GIRLS, BOYS, was released online. It's designed to poke fun at all the tropes that have defined Dunham's creation. Headlined by women in their 20s, the show was been saddled with assertions that the characters are the beneficiaries of white privilege, fundamentally unlikable and are self absorbed. Peter Moses and Frank Cappello, who wrote and edited BOYS, clearly agree with those critiques, or at the minimum can see where those critics are coming from enough to mine those critiques for comedy fodder. Humor is a curious, troubling and elusive quality. It's not always easy to nail and even when one does it well there will be portions of the audience that will stare blankly. Watching this parody I freely admit I stare blankly.
A key element of humor that remains consistent across all cultures is absurdity and it's difficult for me to laugh at what Moses and Capello wrote because there's nothing really absurd about BOYS. Without the opening titles riffing on Judd Apatow and Dunham's TINY FURNITURE, one could easily mistake this as a trailer for yet another show about guys getting to talk about their junk, sleep with an endless array of women and openly say things that are allegedly inappropriate (even though many of us do in fact say these things). It could be the long lost cousin of HBO's ENTOURAGE.
As I said, I stared blankly because it appears that Moses and Cappello are oblivious to what they have ultimately created. Compare and contrast the "Crossing Swords" scene embedded below with their Instagram joke. Take a look at anything Drama says with what's in BOYS. Before Sean Penn became uncomfortable with Spicoli being one of his most memorable characters, guys have always gotten to do pretty much everything GIRLS gets knocked down for a thousand times over. They've gotten to do it with poignancy as well as with nothing more in mind than to make mad, mad money by aiming for the hearts, wallets and bulges of the lucrative male market.
While GIRLS may be infused with White Privilege, which the show openly took aim at in the first episode's first scene, producers have been able to create thousands of hours of programming and films filled with Dude Privilege. From the sloppy, ineffectual Dad cliche that has defined every other ABC and CBS sitcom of the last 20 years, to the direct line that runs from AMERICAN PIE to THE HANGOVER. The crew that made BOYS are the recipients of the same legacy that emboldened Jerry Lewis to say women aren't funny.
If you laughed at BOYS, you laughed. I have no issue with anyone mocking any show or anything (BLACK DYNAMITE's Whorephange FTW). However, much like the asinine First World Problem's meme, BOYS traffics in the same easy bake humor that drapes itself in ironic awareness, but proves the folks are often just as oblivious as the people they purport to mock.