Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sit Down. Stay Com.

Recently, I was privy to a conversation about being on a journal in law school. As we all know, being on a journal, preferably law review, is the only way for anyone to have any measure of success for the rest of their life. No person who failed to participate in law review ever successfully put someone’s grandmother away for selling meth, nor negotiated a settlement wherein an orphanage paid an oil company billions of dollars to keep them quiet. That’s why it surpised me so much when I heard the following phrase: “they ought to make a sitcom out of law review.”

After I reswallowed the bile that erupted out of my throat, I uttered a one word response: “That is the worst idea since they decided to put Cardozo’s drivel in textbooks.” (I’m paraphrasing. I believe what I literally said was “Mwuh? Gah?”) I really had a point, Cardozo’s writing was drivel. But I had another point as well: people on law review are not funny, even as objects of ridicule. They are merely unpleasant. Law review cannot and should not be allowed to entertain anyone on any level.

First, television is about structured expectation. There’s the likable ne’er-do-well, the wacky sidekick, the love interest, and of course, the jerk. In the case of a law review sitcom, however, we have a cast strictly composed of jerks, with the biggest jerk of all at the head. See, e.g., The Utah Law Review. There is no lovable schlub to relate to, pining for the unobtainable opposite member, guided by the misguided yet affable advice of a concerned moron. Instead, a law review sitcom would require casting David Spade in every role, something not even the ghost of Chris Farley could tolerate. For what is David Spade, without a cast of cheerful idiots with which to surround him? Simply another law review member.

Second, in a traditional sitcom, jokes follow a tripartite structure: innocuous setup followed by one normal statement, an additional normal statement, and finally something ridiculous. For example: “What’s on your grocery list, protagonist?” “Why thank you for asking, wacky sidekick! It says, eggs, milk, and the love interest.” (cue audience hilarity). In a law review sitcom, each joke would be rigidly cited using only printed sources, requiring intense research on behalf of the audience to verify its humor, the least subtle of which would be signaled cf. Cf is not funny. Unless you think it stands for Chicken Fornicator, which at least one member of the Utah Law Review has confirmed that s/he does.

If we must give yet more recognition to these most conniving, most inhumane, most… evil, dare I say it, of law students, then we should only do so via the reality format. Reality television rewards sneaky, underhanded, mean-spirited behavior. This is clearly the venue most suited to the shifty reptiles we collectively call Law Review. It also is the best way to get them to eat bugs.

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