I'm pulling a topic out of a comment thread. What do you think of the sort of TV comic character that's based nearly entirely on playing dumb? Some folks find it intolerable, but others think it's quite charming and a brilliant source of comedy. The currently controversial dummy character is Kellie Pickler on "American Idol." She's not (supposed to be) a fictional character, so her case is complicated by the suspicion that she's a fraud. I mean, how can you play dumb well if you're actually dumb? You wouldn't have the judgment to choose to blurt out the charmingly dumb remarks. Can she just be lucky?
I'm thinking that dumbness works especially well on TV. I don't have a theory why that's the case. But a couple great examples spring to mind: Goldie Hawn, Gracie Allen. Yes, I know my examples are ancient, but I haven't really watched many situation comedies since the 60s. Putting HBO to the side, I've only watched "Seinfeld," I think. (I've seen one episode of "Friends.") So help me out with recent examples of the great beloved idiots of the idiot box, and opine on the theory that dumb is good on TV.
Do you make a distinction between fiction and (supposedly) nonfiction shows? Maybe you love it when you know the dumb character is played by a very smart actress (like Lisa Kudrow) but you hate it when some reality show character tries to get the advantage by acting dumb or innocently gains an advantage by actually being dumb?
Another issue, quite obvious now that I've written this much, is whether it's different for males and females, and whether the physical beauty of the dummy is crucial.