In sitcoms, there’s a thing that will sometimes happen when a new character is introduced to the show: The newbie, often but not always a fleeting love interest of one of the main characters, will arrive on the scene … and then promptly be dismissed as narratively expendable. Tasha on Insecure, Emily on Friends, the Mother (her name is pretty much irrelevant) on How I Met Your Mother: They are good characters who serve, in the end, primarily as foils for the people the audience already knows—the people the audience has been trained, episode after episode, to care about. Issa. Rachel. Robin. So: After Ross, reciting his wedding vows to Emily, pledged his undying love to Rachel … Friends proceeded to treat the bride’s anger not as an eminently reasonable reaction to this turn of events, but rather as proof of her unfitness to become a permanent member of the tight-knit group at the show’s core. (This despite the manifest evidence that Emily’s love life, too, is DOA.)
Here, via the character whose chief flaw was her failure to be Rachel, was the brute cosmology of the TV sitcom laid bare: These shows, by hermetic design, tend to mistrust outsiders and to fetishize the familiar. That is part of their appeal, and also part of their trouble.
I thought about Emily—poor, inconvenient Emily—on Wednesday night, when I read Page Six’s report that the former CBS anchor Charlie Rose is “being slated to star in a show where he’ll interview other high-profile men who have also been toppled by #MeToo scandals.” According to the story (which offers notably conflicting accounts of the show’s provenance and design), the rumored series—being discussed in public forums by the editor Tina Brown, who says she was approached to produce the show—would involve discussions between Rose and Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, and other men whose misbehavior was brought to light by some of the women of #MeToo.