Interesting theory. I am reminded of Aeon J. Skoble’s essay “Lisa and American Anti-intellectualism,” included in the anthology “The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer.”

The thing about Ross, though, is that he’s not just smart, he’s boring, and by that I mean that the way his intellect generally expresses itself is self-indulgent.

Lisa Simpson, on the other hand, is a complex and interesting character. She exhibits moral concern for the well-being of others and plays jazz saxophone. The scorn that the other characters in The Simpsons display for Lisa is painful because it reveals something deeply troubling about the shame-motivated hostility of American mediocrity.

Ross, like everyone else on Friends, is basically a bland narcissist. Smarter than the others? Perhaps, but what good does intellect do when you’re not doing anything interesting with it?

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. Bylines at The Wire Magazine, Art in America + more.

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