‘It always seemed to me that photography tends to deal with facts whereas film tends to deal with fiction.’ – Diane Arbus
This quote, which is displayed on one of the wall texts at the Dean Gallery’s ongoing exhibition ‘ARTIST ROOMS: Diane Arbus’, put me in mind of something quite unexpected: the recently defunct U.S. hospital sitcom, Scrubs. In particular, it seemed to resonate with an aspect of the show that has repeatedly fascinated me: the closing credits.
These consist of a montage of stills taken from the preceding episode, with an emphasis on images that give an impression of wackiness (see above). Catching the last few minutes of an episode of Scrubs is probably the best way to see it – the stills invariably put across an utterly convincing argument for the utterly brilliant barminess of the show you have just missed. Once Scrubs becomes a habit, however, it grows more and more difficult to shake off the suspicion that there is a quota of such images that the episode-creators are forced to work to fill. Handily, the show’s humour, like that of Family Guy, relies on a density of irreverant non-sequitirs, meaning that the numbers always add up. If my suspicions are correct, and the need for zany images is indeed driving the script, then it seems to invert Arbus’s observation: photography is the fiction here, supervening upon the ‘reality’ of each episode’s diegesis.
The intricacies of how programme producers manipulate stills clearly deserves to be explored in more depth. In the meantime, here is an example of a comedian’s analysis of the sort of pre-emptive post-game analysis I have been hitting on: Simon Amstell’s creating material for DVD extras on an episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
by Luke Healey