Ryan Murphy, eh? What’s the deal with the evil genius behind Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story, and (of all things) Glee? I’ve recently been re-watching Nip/tuck, the soap opera on acid that takes places in a plastic surgery clinic to better follow the lives of it’s two surgeon protagonists, Christian Troy and Sean McNamara. Now, this all sounds pretty par for the course so far, but this is a Ryan Murphy show, so I can guarantee that it’s probably going to smack you round the face with a big block of unlikely stories before running away and singing some show tunes on his other show.
One of the hallmarks of Murphy show (and, I suppose, a Murphy/Falchuck creation, because dear old Brad has had so much to do with the conception of both American Horror Story and Glee) is the completely hectic pace at which they rattle through plotlines; a kind of ADHD storytelling that works pretty convincingly if, like me, you tend to get bored with shows that linger over one plot strand too long. There’s also the sheer outrageousness of the plots to contend with, too; American Horror Story pretty much excepted, because, c’mon, it’s a horror show. But looking at Glee or Nip/Tuck or even Popular, shows which are allegedly set in the real world (even a violently technicolour version of it) are filled with stonkingly unbelievable plots.
For example, one character in one particular show (which I won’t name for spoiler’s sake) dates a closeted lesbian, tries to cut his own foreskin off, gets involved in a three-way relationship with her and her new girlfriend, dates a transsexual, dates a bigoted racist chick, beats the crap out of an unrelated transsexual, marries his father’s ex (who’s also a porn star), has a baby, gets into gay porn, becomes a meth addict, gets caught in a meth explosion, falls in love with his burns counsellor, decides to go to college to become a doctor, becomes a mime instead, goes on a robbery spree dressed as a mime, ends up somebody’s bitch in prison, strangles him with some lingerie before getting released early and running off with aforementioned baby and aforementioned transsexual to start a new life. After that, you’d want one. It’s mental. It’s ridiculous. And the worst part is I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything that happens to this character.
And that’s the hallmark of Murphy (and, later, Murphchuck shows): they are unbelievably silly. Yeah, occasionally Glee glanced over some after-school-special territory with bullying and homophobia and teenage pregnancy and what have you, but for the most part they revel in hysterical histrionics. Nonsense is what they do best, and I don’t think there’s anything outrightly wrong with that- in fact, I think it’s what makes them some of my favourite TV-brainboxes working right now. Never ones to rely on what they already know to sell a programme, they’ve constantly bounced between genres because, presumably, they get bored dealing with just one-and, surprisingly enough, they often create shows that are actually kind of excellent.
I will hold up my right to watch, read, and listen to trash as long as I enjoy it on some level, and Murphchuck have consistently created just the right balance of trash and moderate innovation for me to continue watching. Gourmet crap, if you will.