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The Top 10 Worst Portrayals of Gamers on Television

Bob Chipman | 10 Nov 2014 12:00
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big bang theory

3. LEONARD, SHELDON, HOWARD & RAJ
The Big Bang Theory (Series)

I shouldn't have to explain this one.

JEFF AND AMBER SAMONSKY
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, "Bullseye" (Season 12, Episode 2)

"This is the kingdom of Galagar!!!"

Law & Order's big franchise motif is stories "ripped from the headlines," which used to mean stories exploring fictional cases grounded in topical real-world issues but now mostly means the story-department fitting whatever skeevy news items from that month's Gawker feed they can into a given episode -- usually regardless of what the actual main story is about.

law order svu samonsky

Case in point: "Bullseye" is mainly about Detective Benson (Mariska Hargitay) getting involved with a charismatic child-safety cyber-vigilante after a young girl is sexually assaulted... after having fled the home of her neglectful-addict parents to forage for food. The topical twist? The parents (Jeff and Amber) aren't on drugs -- they're addicted to a video-games. This, of course, was right in the middle of a wave of "baby starves while parents are playing World of Warcraft" news stories. Classy.

Technically, we're meant to feel bad for Amber (she got hit by a bus and has a brain condition that makes her believe her daughter is some kind of pod-person imposter) but Jeff is literally Gamer Stereotype Zero: A drooling, nasally, unshaven, overweight dweeb who's basically taking advantage of Amber's situation. But at least he doesn't turn out to be the rapist ("Bullseye" is fairly lurid and twisty, even for this series), just a creep.

cartman

1. ERIC CARTMAN
South Park (Series)

Yeah. Thought I was gonna go with Jenkins, aka "The Griefer," right? Nah, too easy. While the South Park universe's resident World of Warcraft buzzkill may be a classical gamer/nerd stereotype, the joke of the episode is that he is just a common gaming social-hazard, not really any kind of supervillain.

Eric Cartman, on the other hand, is the actual full-stop psychopath most often seen on the show -- after all, he's one of the four main characters. And across the show's twenty seasons he's done everything from murder Scott Tenorman's parents, infect his "friend" Kyle with AIDS (on purpose), form a new Nazi party inspired by The Passion of the Christ, summon Cthulhu to destroy the world, and manipulate a tolerance movement in order to get Family Guy canceled -- all while being a whiny, greedy, lazy, racist, sexist, anti-semetic, reactionary homophobic bully who'll crumple into a sniveling ball of crocodile tears the moment he's remotely challenged.

He's immature-entitlement personified, in other words, so it's probably not an accident that South Park's arch-cynic creators decided that he also be the most video-game FIXATED of the main kids: His obsessive drive to possess the latest games and consoles (Dreamcasts, PSPs, Wiis, Xboxes, etc) has driven the plots of multiple episodes. Finally, He just "fits" the other (newer) unfortunate stereotype of gamers -- the casually-cruel, socially-detached power-fantasist -- to an alarming degree... right down to the fact that, despite being on-balance more overall "evil" than most characters on this list, Cartman (and many fans) undoubtedly still sees himself as the "real victim."

So there you have it: The ten most cringe-worthy "gamers" of television history. But! It's not all bad -- and next week I'll be back with ten times TV actually did right by the world's Joystick Jockeys... and the results might surprise you!

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