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Where Did All the Television Catch Phrases Go?

“WhatchyoutalkinboutWills?”

“Hello…Newman.”

“Dy-no-mite!”

Television catch phrases, we hardly knew ye.

Is it just me, or are there simply no high-quality television catch phrases left anymore? (It can’t just be me, because my friend Matt was the one who gave me the idea for this post.) At any rate, it struck us during a conversation that lately there is a dearth of phrases used over and over again by a television character until those phrases seep into the collective consciousness of America and are repeated by the masses until the catch phrases that were once funny become irritating shells of their former selves.

No, there aren’t many phrases like that anymore.

“How rude!”

“Did I do that?”

“To the moon, Alice!”

I’m struggling to think of any modern day shows that includes such a phrase. Is it because television today is trying to be taken all seriously as a form of art, whereas when I was a child, television sitcoms were about aliens with penis-shaped noses and were filmed in front of sets so cheap they looked like they could fall down in a strong wind? Perhaps back then, it was all right to have such goofy, semi-charming shticks like catch phrases.

Today, we’ve got Lost, which I love, but which is so earnest it has produced “Live together, die alone” as its token catch phrase, and being so meta and self-referential, it has even made fun of it. (In a scene toward the end of season three, Rose tells Jack if he says “live together, die alone” one more time, she is going to lose it).

It’s my understanding that Jeremy Piven says “Hug it out” a lot on HBO’s Entourage, but seeing as I’m broke along with the rest of the nation, I can’t afford HBO therefore I cannot cling to “Hug it out” as a catch phrase worth enjoying.

Besides, a catch phrase can’t be from some high-falutin’ premium cable channel or a drama so complicated few of its original viewers still watch it. No, a quality television catch phrase has to be so popular, so overused, so well-known, that even those who do not watch the show understand it, know about it, acknowledge its amazing mass appeal.

“Up your nose with a rubber hose!”

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“Picture it, Sicily…1922.”

“This the big one, Elizabeth, I’m comin’ to join you!”

So ladies and gentlemen, let’s write our representatives in Congress and send e-mails to the Hollywood elite. Because without memorable television catch phrases, I do not believe this is a country worth living in anymore.

Now kiss my grits! – Jennifer Mathieu

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