Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Out for what do you need that gun?"

The Last Man On Earth premiered this Sunday, and I congratulate the show's writers for how they started this new series. [Warning: There be spoilers ahead.]
The premise is pretty simple: The last man on Earth and the last woman on Earth have to learn to live with one another and decide what to do next. But this is no Adam and Eve story. (Or maybe it is. I don't know a lot about Adam and Eve's interpersonal relationship.) Point is, the last two people on the planet could not annoy each other more.

I can just imagine the writers sitting around trying to come up with the most irritating traits they can think of in order to flesh out these characters. "No personal hygiene." "The woman who's always fixing her man." "The guy who'd rather complain and get drunk than do anything worthwhile."

And then one of them says, "What about those people who are always correcting your grammar. That is so annoying!"

Which is why I'm writing about a TV show on a blog about words.

In The Last Man on Earth, Phil (Will Forte) discovers Carol (Kristen Schaal) just as he is literally speeding toward suicide. We viewers momentarily rejoice that at last he won't be so lonely. But not two minutes after they meet, Carol does one of the most annoying things known to man: she "corrects" his grammar.
Phil: "I promise you, there is nothing to be afraid of."
Carol: "Nothing of which to be afraid."
Phil: "I just said that."
Carol: "You can't end sentences with prepositions! 'Nothing of which to be afraid' is the proper grammar!"
Of course, not ending sentences with prepositions is not a real rule of English grammar.

It was a bonafide LOL moment for me. I was in the process of composing an unbelievably hilarious tweet* about it when she delivered another zinger:
Phil: "What do you need that gun out for?"
Carol: "Don't you mean 'Out for what do you need that gun?'"
The first incorrection got me laughing; the second one had me screaming "YES!" at the TV.
Not, of course, because she was enforcing good grammar — she wasn't — but because they were obviously making a mockery out of this sort of condescending pedantry.

If the show's writers were trying to create one of the most annoying people on the planet, they hit the nail on the head by making Carol an ill-informed grammar Nazi — or, if you prefer, an Errorist — who "corrects" what other people say. It might possibly be the most annoying character trait on the planet. Kudos to them for recognizing and publicly illustrating how obnoxious and irritating this practice really is.

I hope they stick with this character flaw throughout the series. Carol Pilbasian could do for "correcting" other people's grammar what Charlie Harper did for drinking and womanizing. Or what Alex P. Keaton did for hard-line capitalism. Or what Sinbad did for parachute pants.

March Fourth is National Grammar Day. I was going to rant about all the so-called grammar advice that'll be popping up that doesn't actually have anything to do with grammar, but I ran out of time. Also, it would have made me sound as bitter and messed up as . . . well . . . as I actually am. Which wouldn't be good for attracting an audience.

At any rate, Kory Stamper did I much better job of it than I could. As I expected she would. Now that you're done with this post, leave me a nice comment and then immediately go read her "Stop Fighting the 'Good' Fight." You won't be disappointed.

Oh, and you can watch the premiere of The Last Man on Earth here.
* You're buying that, right?