Hope no one has any emotional attachment to the phrase "Smells Like Teen Spirit" -- either the song, its mystique, or the band that played it -- 'cause if so, they're about to get quite a mindfuck.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the (working) title of a new family sitcom just sold to CBS, about "an 18-year-old budding entrepreneur who forgoes Harvard and instead opts to launch a multibillion-dollar Internet company from his garage with the assistance of his sister, best friend and his 1990s indie-rock parents," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Excuse us while we go puke on our Chuck Taylors?
The show is the brainchild of The Big Bang Theory's Dave Goetsch, who also worked on 3rd Rock From the Sun. And while we can't imagine quite how the plot of this one will work out -- do 18-year-olds really have "1990s indie rock parents"? what multibillion-dollar company is run out of a garage? -- that's not the worst of our concerns.
No, the worst of our concerns is the appropriation of an iconic song title for a sitcom that seems only tangentially related, if at all. Why does this have to be the title? Because hey, English is a language with lots of words, and they go together in fascinating and surprising ways, and couldn't Mr. Groetsch, like, come up with his own clever phrase? Especially if said program is going to ride on the maybe-still-fertile cliches of brilliant teen/college dropout/tech-company-in-the-garage?
Sure, Kurt Cobain, borrowed the phrase from Kathleen Hanna, who coined it one night while the two were hanging out. (Teen Spirit was originally a brand of deodorant.) Then Cobain turned into one of rock's most important songs. It's a great phrase. But it's already dripping with cultural connotations. It means a lot to a lot of people. And that moment in the possible near future when someone asks if you mean "Smells Like Teen Spirit" the great Nirvana song and music-paradigm-shifting moment, or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" the tepid, ill-conceived CBS family comedy just seems like it'll be harrowingly depressing for everyone, "1990s indie rock parents" and teen tech billionaires included.