10 Sob-Worthy Moments in Comedy Television
It’s been a long day. You come home and want to laugh. That’s why we have comedy television. Because real life is less often haha-funny than it is ohgodwhy-funny.
But because comedy is a reflection of life, which is what makes for truly good comedy, every once in a while…it sucker-punches you in the goddamned gut and you may never recover.
Here are just a few of those moments because we’re all going to suffer together now (spoilers ahead, obviously):
“Sex and the City”: The Post-It
I was young enough that this scene was the first time I truly understood how horrible a break-up could be. Not just the emotion but the incredibly unfairness of it, the violence and the regret. Sure, the symbolism of the dripping water was a little overt and Berger wasn’t that fucking great anyway. But that was not ok. SATC was credited with being a show that more or less unashamedly portrayed women’s sex drives…but this was a great scene that showed their vulnerabilities, too.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”: Charlie and the Waitress at the Jersey Shore
Sure, his obsession is ill-conceived and creepy. But from the moment he runs into the Waitress at the beach, you just really want this all to be ok for Charlie. At his heart, he’s a good guy. He’s arguably the least horrible person on that show, really. So the moment that he wakes up on the beach with her and she reveals that the only reason she was nice to him was because of drugs is pretty heart-breaking really. In many ways, it would have been kinder if it had all been a dream.
“The Office”: When Michael is Betrayed by Both His Company and His Girlfriend
Oh, y’all thought this was gonna be about Jim & Pam, huh? Well, Michael loved Dunder-Mifflin more than they loved each other and they screwed him over. And he found out while being double screwed over by Jan. Jan is the worst, right? How can anyone possibly stand looking into Steve Carrell’s sweet face as he tries to deal?
“Parks and Recreation”: Ron Reveals Why He and Leslie Stopped Being Friends
The biggest issue with the last season of Parks and Rec was why the hell Ron and Leslie stopped being friends. It was awful. The worst part was when we all found out that it was really Leslie’s fault. That Ron loved her and was hurt by her meteoric rise and that she, Leslie Knope of all people, didn’t realize that she had left a friend behind. It ended happily but the shot of Ron’s lonely gaze at the strangers around him made me want to gently pet his mustache. More than usual.
“The Simpsons”: Do It for Her
Obviously, The Simpsons has a lot of weep-worthy moments. You can’t be that good a show for that long without a million moments like that, from Lisa’s inspiring visit to DC and Homer’s almost affair and that episode with his mom. But you are a liar if the end of the episode “And Maggie Makes Three”, all about how hard it was for Homer and Marge to have another child, didn’t cause you to choke on your tears and immediately worry that you never loved your parents enough.
“Community”: Abed’s Film About His Parents
It was pretty early on in the run of Community that Abed decided to make this film, so all you knew was that he was a strange but wonderful human. Unfortunately, even strange but wonderful people carry around horrifying burdens, such as the deeply ingrained worry that his mother left because of him. “I don’t want to be your father.” “You already know your lines.” It’s a throw-away interaction that isn’t quite so easily ignored by the end.
“South Park”: When Wendy Gives Up Her Photoshop Crusade
Yes, I know. The one about Stan growing up is really sad. But that’s just what happens to kids, it’s Calvin & Hobbes. But I argue that when Wendy, a very reliable crusader for liberal human rights, closes out a season by just giving in to peer pressure about her body and beauty norms, it is really gut-wrenching. That’s not what was supposed to happen. Wendy was supposed to win, or at least lose in a funny way. She gets pummeled for the entire episode and you can actually see her getting more and more tired as the episode progresses. This was…too close to reality. A deeply unfair reality.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: Anya Trying to Understand a Loved One’s Death
Ok, to be fair, a pretty huge amount of BtVS is really sad. With that much death (and feminism!), things are bound to get shaky. Then, Joss Whedon gave us “The Body”, because he hates when you feel joy. Without a doubt, the saddest part of the saddest episode is Anya, desperately trying to understand what she’s feeling or how this could possibly happen. Sometimes, it takes a new human to make you remember what being human is really all about. That clip will make you rage at the world for taking away anyone you ever cared about.
“King of the Hill”: Bill’s Christmas Season Mental Breakdown
It was a funny episode until it very quickly became a horribly sad episode. It’s Christmas and Bill’s depression has reared because of his loneliness. His friends are alarmed and disgusted by his behavior. They put him on suicide watch after one attempt and before several more attempts. He experiences a complete mental break and must be intervened by Hank. Regardless of whether it’s an accurate depiction of mental illness or not, it is a very real depiction of desperation and solitude confronted with real love and friendship.
“Futurama”: Jurassic Bark
This is a truly historic episode, if that history involves the total annihilation of thousands of viewers’ cerebral cortexes. I do not know a single image from television that will inspire perfectly sane human beings to crumple and moan faster than Seymour outside the fucking pizza parlor. There are countless moments from Futurama that inspire tears, mostly involving Fry and Leela. But who gives a shit about their will-they-won’t-they nonsense when confronted with the years-long loyalty of a waiting dog? Not me. Not you. I cannot bear to even watch the clip I pasted above there. I’M NOT CRYING. YOU’RE CRYING.