Jay Sherman as Critic
This is my entry into the Film Criticism Blog-A-Thon. Check out No More Marriages! for the full list of links.
There is one important credit on The Critic that should tell you everything you need to know about the show. It was created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, both writers and producers for The Simpsons. Now, this isn't just something to put in ads for the show (which Fox undoubtedly did during its run). It explains The Critic's entire view on its subject. The Simpsons was the greatest animated program in television because it managed to use broad generalizations and stereotypes to make incisive and accurate commentary about the state of the American people. And in this way, The Critic takes a sharp attack, not only on the sorry state of the media (I think it's become more relevant now than it was then), but also on the people who watch these things for a living.
Jay Sherman is a man who wants to love movies. If only the movies were any good. He lives in a world of crappy sequels, remakes, and inter-franchise mashups. It has got to the point that he takes great pleasure in dumping on movies that could be considered a crime against humanity. And so he is strongly disliked. His ratings are in the toilet, and most of the people who watch him watch for the clips more than his opinion. His boss constantly breathes down his neck about his ratings, and his integrity is constantly compromised.
And so is the life of the critic. More often than not, this sort of thing is played for laughs, but there's still the truth sitting there for the world to see. Because, really, once you start looking at the movies and seeing what people actually call good films, it's hard not to keep your mouth shut. And that's what Jay does. He tells it like it is, and yet he is slandered and abused for his opinions. But he is not a completely sympathetic character. Sometimes he is wrong, like when he calls Jean-Paul LePope a bad actor, and sometimes he compromises his integrity for the sake of a possible girlfriend. And yet he is never a truly unsympathetic.
Jay Sherman is the ultimate stereotype of the film reviewer. He doesn't like most of what's out there, and nobody likes him because of that. And yet he is a real critic. He is fallible, has a few fans, and remains a real person throughout his adventures. So maybe, the next time you decide a film critic is moronic/insane, remember Jay. Sometimes they can be just wrong, but their heart is in the right place.
I'll leave you with this, a clip from a movie Jay had to review: