TORONTO - In a 2004 Spin Magazine article, pop culture guru Chuck Klosterman explored what it means to be overrated, underrated, and accurately rated, and identified bands in each category. While recently promoting his new essay collection "I Wear The Black Hat," he used the same criteria to rate five TV shows. Here are his assessments:
"Six Feet Under": Accurately rated
"I feel like people know it's a great show, but they don't put it in the pantheon of great shows, of 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad,' 'The Sopranos' and 'The Wire.' But it is below that, so it's accurately rated. Those four shows are probably all very slightly over or underrated, but they're the four best."
"Cheers": Accurately rated
"It was a hyper-popular show, and people don't under- or overrate its popularity, they know that it was (popular). It had a real influence on television moving forward, and when you go back to the early episodes of 'Cheers,' it's kind of formally inventive. They found a way to basically have a play be on television, without it feeling like a play, and that's a valuable thing. Its greatness is I think validated by time, and when you watch those episodes, they're still pretty funny, because the writing of television has changed so much. On 'Cheers,' you had to have jokes. On a show like 'Parks and Recreation,' it's not really joke-telling, it's more like a jokeless irony that is amusing ... in an absurd scenario and it's a shared sense of irony."
"The Carol Burnett Show": Accurately rated
"There is not an appreciation from the consumer, but people who understand comedy, all of them look back at that show as an American vanguard and they didn't get over it. Most things get overrated, if smoothing stays relevant in the culture, it means they kind of get overrated. Like, I suspect 'The Ed Sullivan Show' is slightly overrated, because we remember all the really great things. People remember what it was ... Everyone knows the Beatles were on 'Ed Sullivan,' the Doors were on Ed Sullivan, so we kind of almost imagine this show was great all the time."
"WKRP In Cincinnati": Slightly underrated
"But then again, if you know of it, you think it's good. That's always the thing ... I did a book reading in New Jersey, and someone asked, 'What's the most overrated and the most underrated movie in the last 10 years?' Thing is, it's very easy to pick out movies that no else has seen, but if you pick those movies out, and three people have seen it, they'll all say it's good. Like the movie 'Primary.' Everyone who knows that movie exists knows it's good. ... People will use those terms interchangeably now; people will say, 'This band is underrated,' and what they really are saying is, 'No one knows who this band is, but if they did, they'd think they're okay.'"
"Friends": Slightly underrated
"The last three years of the show have sort of eroded the uniqueness of its inception. ... If you look at what the episodes are about in the first seasons, it was pretty conscious of how the world was changing. The best one, I think, is where three of the friends go to see Hootie and the Blowfish, and three of the friends can't afford it. First of all, it's hilarious that Hootie and the Blowfish are the central aspect. But for people graduating college in the 90s, there was an economic gap between having any job and having no job that was suddenly really front-and-centre because everybody wanted to do the same things. ... No one thinks about 'Friends' having a social context, but it did, so it is very slightly underrated."