Why Internet Memes Make Bad TV Shows

The Hollywood Reporter announced today plans for a TV pilot based on the “Honey Badger Don’t Care” meme that cracked all of us up momentarily last year (oddly, this meme was left out of the TLF best memes of 2011, even we were certainly fans). The TV show, produced by a Canadian production company called Six Eleven Enterainment is called “Honey Badger U” and will  follow the exploits of Randall, a life sciences professor at a small university who develops an “unusual bond” (THR’s words) with students and the college’s mascot, “Honey” the Honey Badger.

I’m sure you didn’t even get past the first sentence without thinking “this is a horrible idea.”  Very little good seems to come from  network TV’s flirtation with internet culture, from the “Shit My Dad Says” show on CBS, to that nut company that incorporates the pop culture meme du jour into each of its latest ads.

Why do TV shows based on internet memes seem to be so cringe-worthy when they are proposed? It’s hard to nail down the science behind why certain internet memes become popular, but for the most part they share a commonality in their simplicity and their easy adaptability. You don’t have to struggle to get the joke behind the “Randall” videos (or the Ryan Gosling meme or the silly randomness of Nyan Cat.) It’s a different kind of humor, for better or worse, than scripted television, particularly traditional sitcoms based around A and B plot storylines and character development (even if  it’s thin.) Is anyone really thinking about Randall’s backstory when they watch the Honey Badger videos? Or thinking up wacky storylines around his character?  TV execs would likely get a better return looking to web-based TV show creators for ideas (see the in-development Epic Meal Time show, though who knows what happened to that,) rather than trying to exploit the last bit of shelf life out of an expired meme.

That being said, a Feminist Ryan Gosling movie could be kind of awesome.

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