If there are 273 things that television has taught me, one of them is this: if you set out to break a world record and fail, don’t despair because in the losing out on one record you will have set another record. TV characters are always trying to break one world record or another. And usually they fail. But only temporarily until they learn that they have actually succeeded. Just like in life: every failure is really a success. Okay, maybe that isn’t necessarily true, but check out these TV shows for some life lessons on turning failure into success.
The Brady Bunch
Feeling neglected because they are overlooked due to their young age, Cindy and Bobby Brady become the first kids in fiction or reality to get upset because they are not invited to a wedding. Sure, they could have gone the route of Maleficent and gone postal, but instead these two well adjusted Brady kids seek to find some relief from being ignored by breaking the world record for consecutive time spent teeter-tottering. They got the idea from watching TV. Well, turns out they fail to break that record by a mile and feel like bigger losers than Buddy Hinton nominating himself for Best Looking Schoolyard Bully. Only it turns out that the guys they saw on TV were over 18, thus they did manage to set a word teeter-tottering record for kids.
Arnold and his urban buddy Gerald get the idea to beat big city malaise by the breaking of the records they keep reading about in a Guinness-type book. First is an attempt to walk backwards, but since the record is 8,000 miles they give up. An attempt to break the record for going the longest without a bath comes to an end after a forced sponge cleaning by those offended by their foul odor. Soon enough they figure out that they stand a better chance by breaking a group record and soon enough they fail to create the largest human pyramid as well as the longest “crack the whip.” Finally they all decide to create the world’s largest pizza but that ends with an explosion of tomato sauce all over the neighborhood due to a misreading of how much baking soda was needed. After that debacle, they decide they aren’t special enough to set a world record and give up. Only to find out that they did indeed set a new world record. For the most attempts at breaking world records.
Even if Arnold and the gang had managed to stay in place long enough to break the record for a human pyramid, the glory would have been short-lived. Because not long after, the residents of Springfield would have put their pyramid to shame. Well, if they had managed to keep the pyramid intact long enough. Instead, disaster arrives and the pyramid falls apart and so on this episode of “The Simpsons” we see another dashed attempt at breaking a world record. Fear not, however, because Springfield does get to enjoy the rather dubious–but still well-earned–world record for being the world’s fattest town.
“Happy Days” tweaks the plot device of a world record that isn’t but then it is. In this case, it is the guy you are not supposed to expect capable of breaking a world record who sets it rather than a kind of consolation record that must be substituted for success. Big Al, the owner of Arnold’s restaurant, wants someone to get into the Magilla Book of Records at the diner to increase publicity. Potsie tries to break the world record for jumping jacks. Richie tries to break the world record for carrying someone around on your shoulders. Ralph Malph’s bubblegum bubble fails to make the mark. Who’s left? Only Fonzie’s klutzy cousin. No, not Chachi, I said klutzy, not idiotic. Only guess what? Turns out that Fonzie’s cousin Angie, despite being a butterfingers who drops plates, glasses and the chef’s derby, has fast enough reflexes to break the record for catching quarters stacked on your elbow. Ta-da!