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We asked a shrink to psychoanalyse these TV bozos

What moulds a human punchline?

We asked a shrink to psychoanalyse these TV bozos
19 April 2018

Joey Tribbiani – Friends

“Joey grew up with seven sisters and he probably didn’t get a lot of attention as a child, which means he feels the need to validate his worth by getting attention from women. That leads to what we call ‘anxious ambivalent attachment’ – he’s constantly seeking attention.

He is likely to have trouble in his relationships because he is very needy and co-dependent.”

Zapp Brannigan – Futurama

“Zapp would qualify as having narcissistic personality disorder. He was probably the type of child who was given everything by his parents, and that led to him feeling entitled. There’s a type of attachment called ‘dismissive’ to describe people who have such inflated self-esteem that they have delusions of grandeur. It leads to some emotionally abusive behaviours.”

Roland ‘Prez’ Pryzbylewski – The Wire

“I wonder if the police felt masculine to him and the pressure of that led to his aggression [he is nearly fired after punching the police commissioner]. Research shows that people who resort to aggression are not as skilled at verbal communication. When he becomes a teacher he explores a more sensitive side of himself.”

Harry Crane – Mad Men

“He’s very willing to make moral compromises. And I think he’s resentful if he’s not given the attention he feels he deserves. He seems to view women as objects. I would say that he has an ‘avoidance attachment’ style – the result of parents who were either very inattentive or even abusive. It makes people very cynical about social relationships.”

Tobias Funke – Arrested Development

“Tobias experiments with his identity in every way except the way that maybe is the most threatening to his ego; maybe he is just afraid to admit to himself that he is gay. It would be interesting to wonder if his never-nude disorder [he cannot be naked, even when alone] is because he’s so uncomfortable with his own genitalia when he’s around attractive men.”

Father Dougal McGuire – Father Ted

“Father Dougal probably had a very loving childhood where he was treated as a child beyond the age where most people are expected to start taking on critical thinking skills. I imagine this led to his lack of interest in women sexually because he sees women as mother figures. Becoming a priest might reflect his lack of sexual desire.”

Manuel – Fawlty Towers

“He probably had a very happy childhood. I imagine his parents taught him that he can build a better life through work. He’s no doubt modelling what he saw in his own upbringing, which was trust and kindness and hard work. He seems to have a lot of joy in his life and is stereotypical of a first-generation immigrant: hard-working, eager to please and willing to do what he’s told.”

(Illustration: James Fosdike, Images: BBC/Channel 4/ITV/HBO/Showtime/AMC/Netflix)