Congress has, in television terms, jumped the shark. Its been on for 112 seasons, so it’s understandable that they’re running low on new ideas.But the latest recycled storyline – the debt crisis negotiations – is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. The repetition and empty promises that this time it’s going to mean something is starting to feel a bit like the last two seasons of Lost. A lot of tension, a lot of confusing questions, and then nothing really seems to happen until the next time the debate over the debt ceiling – or in this metaphor, the smoke monster – comes around.
While I am always a huge advocate of canceling shows once they’ve passed their expiration date, I don’t think the Constitution allows for mid-season replacements, nor for our country’s laws being established by American Idol reruns. But with a current approval rating of 9%, Congress is the third most hated thing in America (closely trailing Jack and Jill and people who talk on their cell phones in bathroom stalls). They have got to do something to turn this show around. Luckily for them, I consider myself a student of ridiculous television premises, so senators and representatives, listen up. I’ve got a few ideas on how to get Americans to pay attention to you guys again.
5. Murder mystery
I have to write this one very carefully because I want to make it clear that I don’t think anyone should actually die. Especially since I accidentally posted what might be considered child porn and the FBI is probably reading this and all subsequent posts (Hi guys! What do you all think of that new J. Edgar movie?)
What I’m suggesting is some sort of mystery surrounding what appears to be a death or disappearance of a high-ranking member of Congress. Clues are uncovered, fingers are pointed, and once the killer is revealed, it turns out to be a dream and then we all find said member of Congress in our showers the next day.
4. Add a laugh track
For this inspiration, I turn to Whitney, a show that remains on the air despite having jumped the shark as soon as the initial concept was written on a piece of paper. And yet, it remains on the air, I think because the studio laughter makes people think it must be funnier than it really is. Since no one has taken Congress seriously for years, maybe it’s time to change the tone of the show and make people think they’re watching a comedy. No, it won’t help our country, but it might convince people that politicians are being funny on purpose.
See? Isn’t that more exciting?
3. Replace a few actors.
This could theoretically be done with elections, but the problem new people have getting elected is that they lack name recognition, so people just go with the characters they know and the same old storylines so they at least know what they’re getting into. But what Congress needs to boost ratings isn’t some fresh face who no one knows, it’s star power. We should pull a Bewitched and replace some of the old standbys with sexier models. They might continue carrying out the same policy, but when the part of Harry Reid is being played by George Clooney, then at least maybe The Today Show will acknowledge that Congress exists instead of devoting three hours a day to the travels of Matt Lauer.
2. Pelosi and Boehner have a baby.
Sure, it’s cliche that when a show is suffering, someone gets pregnant. Friends did it. Mad About You did it. The Office did it twice. But still, all of those shows stayed on for at least another season, so it is an effective way to keep viewers involved. And what better characters than the Sam and Diane of the House, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. It’s probably going to involve more science than romance to make this a reality, but America will get wrapped up in the saga as these two star-crossed
lovers people soulless vessels find a way to make it work. And come on, who doesn’t want to watch this tyke grow up before our nation’s eyes?
1. Literally jump a shark.
Why the hell not? It’s not like Congress is going to do anything to make this show worse. They might as well be entertaining, and while it’s probably too much to hope for Gladiator-level entertainment, they could at least be Fonzi entertaining.