!! WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Paul T. Goldman: Season 1. !!
Lots of people thought Paul T. Goldman was funny, so what's the point?
I recently watched, and loved, Paul T. Goldman on Peacock. It's an absolutely insane watch that I won't even spoil with a description. Just watch it. A few friends and I watched every episode together and thoroughly loved the experience. We wanted more, in fact. Everyone I've talked to about it loves it.
However, if cringe humor makes you exceedingly uncomfortable, this show will probably not be your cup of tea. It's along the lines of shows like The Rehearsal and Nathan For you. Except, while Nathan Fielder is playing a character for comedic effect, Paul T. Goldman is a real human being.
Continuing... After the finale ended, I went in search of opinions on Reddit a couple of evenings ago and found a thread where someone had been down-voted for asking why Paul T. Goldman is funny. I hate it when people get down-voted for questions like this. He was serious, so I provided a serious reply.
He immediately replied with...
Thank you for this thoughtful reply. I got a lot out of it and I think all of your points are very valid and have made me look at it in a different light.
This kind of exchange almost never happens to me on the Internet, so I wanted to immortalize it here and share my reply with everyone as well, just in case another Internet stranger is confused about why Paul T. Goldman is funny. Maybe you can reroute your mind, too.
The Redditor's question...
But why do the people who like it like it? I was hoping to get some conversation going but just got downvotes. Paul turned out to be a very sick man, a serial liar and an unhinged crank who they manufactured a happy ending for. Why is that entertaining to people? I'm seriously curious. I'm not judging. If literally ANY person i knew in real life watched this show I would ask them but alas, even my peacock app didn't seem to know this show existed as I had to search for it every single time I watched!
Why I think Paul T. Goldman is funny.
For one, the show is a perfect parable for Q Anon so it’s extremely cathartic for those of us who are sane to watch a conspiracist given a platform to destroy himself with. We watch with delight as he walks himself off of a cliff, knowing that he did it to himself.
And second, this guy is a narcissistic piece of shit while being an absolute zero of a human being. It’s funny when people have extreme confidence in their abilities when everyone can easily see that they suck at everything that they do. This also provides foreshadowing for everything to come once we realize it and we’re in on the joke. This is how the show gets its hooks in you from episode 1.
Did the creators manufacture a happy ending?
I don’t think that they engineered a happy ending for him. I think he discovered a new delusion; that even though this show undressed him and showed the world the absurdity and failure of his existence — and how much of an abusive nothing he is — that he’s a star now.
The filmmakers aren’t celebrating that. You can see it in the director’s face when he’s talking to Paul in the finale after the screening. He absolutely knows that they fucked Paul over. There is guilt all over his face and he doesn’t want to be there. He’s dying inside because normal human beings, in that situation, would feel very betrayed and angry. That’s what the director is anticipating. A screaming match.
However, Paul’s narcissism still steers him away from actually absorbing any useful insight about the experience. He’s spent his entire life manufacturing fantasies about his greatness. He finds the closest route that allows him to believe that he made the story amazing and you can see it happen when he enters his new reality. The warrior wimp. What a guy.
The director receives a hug in that moment — the moment that Paul reshapes his reality to fit his ideal narrative once again. The guy that definitely manipulated him into making himself look stupid in front of the entire world. Again, everyone can see it but Paul.
I believe that the filmmakers are shining a spotlight on a quintessential problem with all forms of American media; fame overrides everything. They spent the entire production telling you this guy is a hyper gullible, lying idiot to an abusive degree, and in the end, there are eyes on him and therefore he has fame, and so he has value. His fucked up acts are hand-waved away in lieu of his very minor fame.
This is why they showed you Svetlana being extremely nice to him during the production so many different times. She wasn't any more important than any other performer. They showed her because everyone watching knows what’s going on there and the director knows it, too. That beautiful actress/model is not into Paul.
She’s playing the same game that everyone has when they manipulate him, and he doesn’t know or care. She's feeding his delusion. You can see the premise of the show in those scenes. She’s being nice to him because she thinks he’s rich and famous. He thinks he has a shot with her because he thinks he’s rich and famous, too.
This is a parable for the American political system, too. As long as you’re famous and you have enough money, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are. Do batshit insane things, get paid, face no consequences, repeat.
This loser is probably going to ride the deconstruction of his reality of lies to a fortune in appearance fees, cameos, spin-offs, reality shows, etc. He’s going to make a lot of money off of the success of this production that exposed him as a complete failure undeserving of even a modicum of positive attention. And that’s absurd.
And that’s pretty funny to a lot of people. People who laugh at absurdity will laugh at shows like this because it it’s more fun and fulfilling than crying is.