Eight Things We Learned about Artists from Watching Television

All cultural products mirror their society, but perhaps none more so than television. After all, when’s the last time you went to Mexico and didn’t see big-breasted women hanging out with costumed little people?

So let’s visit the small screen and see just what TV tells us about visual artists.

 

They Are Never Satisfied

If there’s one thing we can learn from Murphy Brown, it’s that a good secretary is hard to find. If there’s another thing, it’s that painters are never happy with their work, especially not Eldin Bernecky, who worked on Brown’s apartment for a long, long time.

 


 

They Don’t Play by Your Rules

My Two Dads was a seminal gay comedy… Wait. What? They weren’t gay? You sure? Weird. Anyway, this show featured artist Joey Harris, who had a sweet car couch and a head in the clouds. He definitely was nothing like that Michael Taylor character, with his suit and his real job and his sense of responsibility. No way, man.

 


 

They Are Mad

Sesame Street’s Mad Painter was maniacal in his mission to paint numbers on things, even the heads of bald dudes in swimming pools. We don’t know what else to say about the guy, other than that he kind of creeped us out as a kid.

 


 

They Are More Interesting Than Regular People

It's tough to tell how seriously we're supposed to take Pam Beesly’s artistic aspirations on The Office. We know practically no one from Dundler Mifflin showed up at her art show in Season Three, but that could actually be an endorsement, considering the folks who work there. Ultimately her dream of becoming a professional artist lets us know her character has more going on than just the goings-on of a Scranton paper company. Or as she says, “I don’t think it’s many little girls’ dream to be a receptionist.”

 


 

They Get the Girl

Much like Pam Beesly’s paintings, Seth Cohen’s drawings helped set him apart. Seth wasn’t just a nerd living in The O.C., dammit! He was an interesting, artistic guy with depth. And that depth helped him go deep (sorry!) with resident hottie Summer Roberts.

 


 

They Are a Bit Seedy

Let’s get the catchphrase out of the way right now: dyno-MITE! There, now where were we? Over the course of the Good Times run, J.J. Evans went from small-time thief (“I never steal anything. I just find things!”) to patron-friendly artist, but he never lost his edge. Thankfully.

 

They Are Vaguely French

Painter Smurf was a walking stereotype of the creative type, an image of effete moodiness that was seared into the brains of a generation. Even worse, he spoke with a French accent. No one wanted to grow up to be that guy, not even people who wanted to be artists.

 


 

They Are Vaguely French

Whoa. We never realized how bad the writing was on Sex and the City until this very moment. Sure, Aleksandr Petrovsky was Russian, but where did he move Carrie? To Paris, that’s where. And what kind of guy was he? Effete and moody, that’s what. Petrovsky was Painter Smurf!

 

Many thanks to Twitter users @v_hopson, @DallasArtsSalon, @gwentown, @spacesgallery, @artlovemagic and @jonathanbruder for their help with this article.

also by Roy Neinast

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