a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

how did "how did this get made" get made?

I'm almost caught up with Reply All, so I'm looking for a new podcast archive to dive into. I'll probably check out the hosts' previous show, TLDR, but that's a short archive of <15 minute episodes, so I'll probably get through it in a day.

I enjoyed actor and comedian Jason Mantzoukas's appearances on Reply All, so I thought I'd check out his podcast, How Did This Get Made, in which he and a handful of other actor/comedians talk about bad movies. I've listened to the first dozen or so episodes and I don't know if I'll listen to any more.

First of all, I can't just download the episodes in my podcatcher; the title of the first episode is "Find Full Archive of How Did This Get Made on Stitcher Premium" (lol. lmao) and the only episodes from the first several years that show up in the feed appear to be special live shows. Luckily, I found someone sharing the early episodes on Google Drive, so I was still able to check it out, but needing to periodically plug my phone into my computer and move the files over is more friction than I wanna deal with. Unless the show was good enough to make it worth it.

But holy shit, the past really is a foreign country. I'm listening to the shows from 2010 and the vibe is shockingly far off from anything I would listen to today. I don't think any of the hosts are notorious edgelord comedians. I've never heard of any of them, I don't think they're infamous for being awful people (except for Chris Hardwick, who guest-hosted an early episode) but they're using slurs and making misogynist/fatphobic/ableist jokes constantly. One of them dropped a "the holocaust didn't happen" joke, which holy shit I don't know how an adult could think that was okay a mere 12 years ago. Lots of painfully unfunny tryhard bullshit.

When I say "they" and "one of them" I think I'm mostly talking about the main host, a guy named Paul Scheer, who seems intensely unlikeable. I usually can't tell his voice apart from the male guest hosts. The other main hosts are Jason, who's less of a forceful personality than in his Reply All appearances, and June Raphael, who seems fine. I feel like I barely get to hear Jason and June talk, the conversations seem dominated by Paul and whoever the guest panelist is.

I don't generally like shows where every episode has a different guest, especially not when there are 4 people trying to talk over each other. The first few episodes have been an unpleasant chaotic mess, and worst of all, the discussions haven't even been that funny or insightful.

The vibe feels much older than the show actually is. It doesn't sound like an actual discussion. It has this artificial-feeling mania where people are constantly talking really fast, like it's a game where whoever makes the most points wins. Every negative point about the movie is hyper-exaggerated and anyone who tries to express a positive opinion about something gets mocked and shut down. The hosts do this thing I hate where they treat jokes in a comedy film as plot holes that prevent the movie from making sense. They're comedians, they know how jokes work. In a comedy film, characters often behave in illogical ways for the purpose of subverting expectations, with the goal of eliciting laughter at the incongruity. Maybe a joke is bad, maybe it doesn't land, but I don't understand why they're feigning bewilderment; I know they know it was supposed to be a joke.

Also, for a show called "How Did This Get Made" there's remarkably little curiosity about how the movies got made. Anyone who tries to speculate about the bad decisions that went into making the movie gets yelled at. "Who cares?! It's shit! It's bad because it was made by idiots!" etc. Red Letter Media does a show about bad movies called Best of the Worst and it's a thousand times funnier and more insightful than anything I've heard so far on HDTGM. Their older stuff has a lot of one-off gags and tasteless jokes that I'm glad they've mostly moved away from, but even back then, the bits were separate from the discussions, and the discussions felt like real people having a real conversation about a topic of mutual interest. They're not trying to be funny through the whole conversation, and the episodes would be interesting even if I didn't laugh at all, but they naturally are funny.

I'm probably making a mistake trying to listen from the beginning, and there's likely some point at which the show becomes listenable, and if anyone knows when that point is, or has a suggestion for an episode to jump to, I'm all ears. But for now, I think I'm all wolves. Awoo 🐺