Well, here I go again with another dissertation on the F*Bomb. It’s like I can’t get it out of my system….or maybe it should be that I can’t get it in.
I thought I’d inch my way back into the popular arts this evening. This is a place that I have pretty much abandoned once I retired, at least when the venue is television. My temporary re-entry was made up of watching three episodes of an amazon prime series titled, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. This program has piled up an overflowing mantle of awards, including three Golden Globes, a SAG Award, and six Primetime Emmies. The writer-director of the series is Amy Sherman-Palladino who also gave us The Gilmore Girls. I thought I had done a good job selecting what promised to be an outstanding series. I thought.
Now comes the troublesome part. I’ve confessed this before so some will find this posting to be a here-he-goes-again moment. I have, let’s call it “a sensitivity,” to the F*Bomb. I think this is a result of the culture in which I was raised. I realize it is merely a word, a collection of letters placed in a specific order to form the word that represents the sound, F*ck. Stay with me here.
During the 1950s, the word simply was NOT commonly used, at least in public and especially by women. I’ve thought long and hard about this and, NO, the F*Bomb was definitely NOT expressed back then as freely as it is today. This brings me to the point at which I take issue with all the contemporary entertainment writers who insist on sprinkling the F*bomb throughout their scripts as if it were seasoning liberally applied from a saltshaker. It is especially annoying when the script represents a time period like the 1950s, as does The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I am not stupid. Today’s crop of writers thinks it is cool and hip (there’s a word from the ‘50’s) to say F*ck in just about every paragraph, so much so that to someone like me it is beyond sounding provocative and simply sounds stupid and irritating.
Amy Sherman-Palladino is such a writer. She was born in 1966. She was not around in the 1950s and her perception of how people spoke back then is entirely WRONG. When her peers, and anyone younger, watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel they think nothing of the proliferation of F*bombs. When someone my age is exposed to her writing, it loses all credibility and is actually insulting. She may just as well place a cell phone in every actor’s hand as they role-play what they think is representative of the time period in which Mrs. Maisel takes place.
Now certainly, it is ballsy (how do you like that word?) of me to criticize Ms. Sherman-Palladino when she is a super successful writer and I remain a starving one. But I am upset. I wanted to get involved with a good series—an award-winning series—and have something to look forward to watching over the next several weeks. But, after viewing three full episodes, I left in the midst of an entirely unbelievable stretch of a scene in which a sober Mrs. Maisel auto-programs herself to suddenly do stand-up at a wedding. Her performance rivals any routine by shock comedian Andrew Dice Clay, to the extent that she asks the wedding’s attending priest to declare to everyone that she did not “stoke” him. It is a scene that is simply unreal, one that is the product of a writer not familiar with the time period, period! And, no one, except a wonky critic like me, would make a fuss about it because it abruptly breaks the rhythm of what was otherwise a compelling performance.
Maybe I am a prude and do not wish to admit it. But hey, my one book has a naked lady on the cover. How much of a snoot can I be? It is just that the F*bomb has become so much a part of our contemporary language that it can be heard anywhere at anytime by anyone. My children and grandchildren use it freely all the time, whether I’m present or not. The problem comes to life when a writer decides to overwhelm you with it. Good writers pull and tug at every word in their scripts, always questioning whether or not a word is the correct one, does it serve a purpose, does it belong? Too often the F-bomb gets an unearned “yes” for each of these questions.
Imagine for a moment if The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel went through its entire season without once dropping the f*bomb. I bet it would have still won three Golden Globes, a SAG Award and six Primetime Emmies. Kah-boom!