Support Overthinking It by becoming a member for $5/month!
Peter Fenzel and Matthew Wrather have been watching a lot of shows where an expert comes in to “fix” a “failing” “business.” The fun ones are with restaurants and bars. They overthink the genre and its features, wondering about why these experts are so attractive when at the moment expertise is generally denigrated in the public sphere, and about what these shows tell us about agency, psychology, political economy, and calculus.
Subscribe: iTunes Other Apps
I wonder how much of the rejection of expertise has to do with a lack of relationship to experts. From my own experience, I’ve watched people abruptly change gears from talking about how useless they think college was to praising specific professors and projects…because they discovered in the middle of the conversation that I taught graduate classes for fifteen years. And thinking about it, many people no longer have a consistent physician, and most of the remaining relationship is “mediated” by insurance companies. By contrast, reality show experts at least provide a parasocial relationship. Maybe it’s harder to imagine someone living secluded in an ivory tower when you’ve seen a similar person’s house.
And yeah, it definitely doesn’t help when “robo-experts” are either completely unethical or inept in important ways. My ongoing problem with things like restaurant searches is that none of them realize that “it’s on the other side of a large body of water” isn’t in anybody’s definition of a ten-mile trip, even before we get to the gaslighting.
As the Overthinking Viking Hordes rampage through streaming services, though, don’t forget to take a moment for Rutherford Falls on Peacock. It’s unfortunately not as deep as The Good Place, but it’s trying to get there and seems like they wanted to give the service its own Ted Lasso.
“Yes capital holders will try to drive down wages, and capital workers will become more exploited unless a class conciousness is developed… but what about my sh!thole of a brother?”