The Importance of Watching Other People Being Earnest

From Abbott Elementary to TikTok, Pop Culture Is Having a Rosy Moment with Victorian Roots

There’s an old adage that goes something like, “Be always sincere but never earnest.” The idea being that while sincerity engenders honesty, earnestness is hampered by its strength of conviction.

Maybe that’s why earnest entertainment typically induces my gag reflex.

I promise I’m not a total monster—if I’m in the right mood or have found the right topic, I can also submerge myself in this genre of programming that, at its best, feels like taking a warm, soothing bath. But too often I’m left cold, dreading the moment when the show I’m …