The Problem With ‘The Problem With ‘The Problem With Jon Stewart’’

Mar 20, 2022 • Extra Ordinary



John Gruber, ‘The Problem With ‘The Problem With Jon Stewart’’:

I watched the first episode and was bored to tears […] not a good sign when the show was in fact only 40 minutes long.

I’m not saying Stewart can or should only do comedy. I like serious issue-based shows, too, but the good ones […] The premiere of *The Problem With Jon Stewart* can only be described as “plodding”.

I broadly agree with Gruber’s assessment of the first three episodes: slower and dryer than other issue-of-the-week shows. Where I disagree is in his framing of The Problem With Jon Stewart as a serious show outside of his former work in comedy. The Problem With Jon Stewart is supposed to be a comedy show; the problem with The Problem With Jon Stewart is that the first few episodes are so unfunny that it hardly registers as comedy.

Out now are three new episodes from a new batch: ‘Stock Market,’ ‘Climate Change’ and ‘Media.’ I have found these significantly more enjoyable so far. They’re closer to figuring out what humor works on the show.

The opening segment with unscripted dialogue in the writers’ room still varies from fun to pointless, but I commend them for putting the backroom writers onscreen. Jon’s solo desk segments are getting a little better every episode as they work out the pacing of the show. The sketches in the middle of the episode are still bad, but no longer unbearably bad. The ‘Most Improved’ award goes to the panel discussion and one-on-one interview segments in the second half for the ‘Stock Market’ episode alone.

Ultimately, if you imagine someone who has only paid for one month of Apple TV+ and they don’t plan to keep it, would The Problem With Jon Stewart make the essential watchlist? No.1 There’s still some work to do.

The Problem With Streaming Television

Streaming television is in a state where dozens of streaming services are launching dozens of shows every month. It’s too competitive to launch a show that isn’t fully baked.

As recently as ten years ago, shows could launch to lukewarm reviews, but by the second or third season, they’ve figured out what the show really is. The TV Tropes list of ‘Live-Action TV’ examples for this phenomenon is over 15,000 words long.

Today, there’s just too much TV to waste time on bad TV.

Footnotes

  1. Ted Lasso, For All Mankind, Severence, Trying, Tiny World.

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