Pop Culture Darlings Actually Aren't Popular

People watch '2 Broke Girls,' not 'Girls': Stephen Marche
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2013 12:30 PM CDT
Pop Culture Darlings Actually Aren't Popular
This publicity image released by HBO shows Lena Dunham in 'Girls.'   (AP Photo/HBO, Jessica Miglio)

Girls is, if media is to be believed, a big part of pop culture. Except that it's not. The show has gotten more than 1,000 mentions on BuzzFeed, the web's most trafficked entertainment site, and has "spawned a cottage industry of thought pieces," writes Stephen Marche in Esquire—but its last season finale had just 632,000 live viewers. "What is talked about and what is viewed have never been more distinct," Marche writes. What people are actually watching: reality TV, Chuck Lorre sitcoms, and multiple versions of NCIS.

It's depressing: NCIS is "drab and tepid," "predictable and standardized," and the Lorre sitcoms aren't actually funny. "Any of the shows in the ratings' top ten would not have looked out of place in a lineup from 1995," complete with corny catchphrases, unfunny jokes, and laugh tracks. Meanwhile, on the big screen, we're not far from a time when double-digit sequels will be the norm; and in music, we have Lady Gaga basically re-recording Madonna songs. "People want 1995. The reason should be obvious. 'Making it new' is exhausting," Marche writes. We're in the middle of a technological revolution, and "the derivativeness of popular culture is a reaction to the new metabolism, but it's also a kind of implicit criticism of it, too." Click for his full column. (Read more pop culture stories.)

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