I fancy myself quite a pop culture nut. I spend way more than my fair share of time and energy reading, watching, listening to and otherwise absorbing every bit of popular culture that I can. Still, I'm only human and there are always those bits that slip through the cracks either because there just isn't enough time in my day or because my ambivalence for a particular subject makes it impossible for me to pay any attention. Because of that, there are times when a pop culture reference flies right by me. A joke will be made and I'll know that it's a joke but I'm just not sure what it means or why it's funny. That's life. I figure if I get at least 85% of the jokes, then I'm following along just fine.
What bothers me though, is when there is a pop cult reference that I get but I still don't know why the joke is supposed to be funny and it's on those occasions that I find myself wondering if the humor was just too subtle for me (like maybe I'm dumber than I think I am?) or if the joke really wasn't funny.
I experienced this last night while I was catching up on a couple of episodes of Reaper that I'd had on the TiVo. In the most recent episode, "Unseen," Sam, Ben and Sock move into an excessively posh apartment together. During the course of the episode, several jokes are made about cooking, the Food Network and The Naked Chef. The first Naked Chef joke comes when Sam is in the kitchen asking his parents for permission to move out (which I didn't understand anyway because the dude is 21 damn years old, he's gainfully employed and his parents sold his soul to the Devil. Just effing move dude, don't ASK!) while Sock busies himself making a smoothie. The parents ask what they'll do about food and Sock says that he'll cook because he "watches The Naked Chef a LOT." And I suppose if you've never actually seen Jamie Oliver's cooking show, that could be funny because you'd assume that the slightly lecherous Sock is watching more for the "naked" than for the "chef" but...the Naked Chef is a British guy who cooks fully clothed so it's just, not that funny. And if it wasn't funny the first time, it was way less funny when they went back to the same joke 20 minutes later.
This is a perfect example of why I've struggled all season to figure out if I even like that show. I want to like it, I like a lot of things about it but as a whole, it leaves me cold and with nagging questions.