What's Happy Days done for me lately?
May 12, 2010 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Has "jumped the shark" jumped the shark?

Yeah, so this is completely frivolous, but I thought I would throw it out there in the hopes that others have been having the same thoughts. Is anyone else tired of that aforementioned 'Happy Days' reference? Lately, I've been saying "cousin Oliver is moving in" just to relieve the tedium. Any other good ideas for ways of shorthanding this? Do you have a preferred phrase?
posted by Gilbert to Society & Culture (22 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Chatfilter. -- cortex

The non-trendy phrase would be "it's played out."

If you're looking to coin something new, I propose "they pulled a Facebook."
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:31 AM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

I like to use Lost references:

"Is stuck on an island with a man telling him what he can and can't do."
"Is pushing buttons 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42"
"Is on Oceanic Flight 815."

You get the idea.

I don't think "jump the shark" is going to go away until it stops being a new reference to a large number of non-internet folk, or just folk in general.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:35 AM on May 12, 2010

I've had enough of this shit.
posted by box at 10:45 AM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

"Nuked the Fridge" in reference to the latest Indiana Jones movie.
posted by smitt at 10:47 AM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I consider the phrase to be so ubiquitous in contemporary (American) English that it has become a standard way to discuss cultural products. When I hear someone say “ ___ has jumped the shark”, my mind doesn’t go : jumped the shark > Fonzie, classic episode, cliffhanger > unnecessarily adding something to retain viewership > cultural trope. It skips all of the Happy Days stuff and goes straight to the phrase’s referent.

To answer your question: No, I don’t have any other phrases to use because a phrase loses its utility when noone knows what it means.
posted by Think_Long at 10:51 AM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

I do agree with you that the phrase has, um... worn out its welcome?
posted by rokusan at 10:54 AM on May 12, 2010

How about "walked into Gordon Jump's bike shop with Dudley"?
posted by sourwookie at 11:03 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm willing to bet the average person doesn't even know where the phrase originates. The Happy Days episode in question aired in September, 1977. That was 32 years ago. I only recently realized it was a Happy Days thing.

Jumped The Shark has become a phrase like (but not meaning the same thing as) Beating Around The Bush. People know what it means to beat around the bush, but does the average person know where the phrase comes from? No. It's just a phrase that has a meaning people understand. Coming up with your own new wacky phrase that means the same thing as Jumping The Shark doesn't change the fact that people know what the old phrase means.

Rather than come up with a new wacky phrase, you might find people take you more seriously if you choose to not speak in cliches.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:07 AM on May 12, 2010

P.S. What Think_Long said. Absolutely.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:08 AM on May 12, 2010

Beating around the Bush went out when Obama got in.
posted by Postroad at 11:09 AM on May 12, 2010

"Nuked the Fridge" in reference to the latest Indiana Jones movie.

What? Dude, that was awesome! Everyone knows that duck and cover would have worked if the '50s had had more fridges!
posted by Dasein at 11:10 AM on May 12, 2010

I think the problem is not that the phrase itself has become tired, but that you maybe use it too much. Unless you are an expert on "Shark Jumping" I don't think anyone should be using the phrase enough for it to become frivolous.

What are you talking about in your daily life so frequently that it requires a unique alternative to jumping the shark? I actually want to know.
posted by AtomicBee at 11:17 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's also kind of neat, since we are witnessing the birth of an idiom! We know what 'off your rocker' or 'beating a dead horse' or 'losing my religion' or a thousand other terms mean, but do we really? And do we care anymore? The 'jump the shark' story is a fun one, as etymologies go.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:22 AM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

or, what 2oh1 said.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:22 AM on May 12, 2010

posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on May 12, 2010

There's not really any phrase out there that conveys the same meaning in the same informal way. If it's a cliche, so what?
posted by blucevalo at 11:29 AM on May 12, 2010

I think my previous comment may not have been very helpful. Let me see if I can elaborate without going into a rant.

The phrase "Jump the Shark" has jumped the shark if you take that to mean that it has become silly and lacking any real meaning. IMHO the phrase has been applied to too many different media without attention to subtlety. It is now a generalization without specific meaning. The simple fact that you are looking for a replacement phrase supports the fact that its specific meaning has become lost.

Take for example the Indiana Jones example of "Nuking the Fridge." The scene from Indiana Jones and the one from Happy Days have almost nothing in common, yet these phrases are used interchangeably. They are simply two very silly scenes from franchises that are already pretty silly.

I think that people are excited by the novelty of a newly created idiom and therefore use it liberally, without regard to correctness, just to experience the novelty of being on the forefront of language. It is just a buzzword and if it retains any meaning after its 15 minutes of fame then it will remain a useful phrase.
posted by AtomicBee at 11:37 AM on May 12, 2010

I'm always hoping that trying to show how hip one is by pointing out what is no longer hip would become less common. I'm guilty of doing it too. It would be good if the need for put-downs like "Jumped the shark" could lessen, but it probably never will.
posted by longsleeves at 11:38 AM on May 12, 2010

Well, the website that started it all was sold to TVGuide and has retained next-to-none of its original flavor, so I'm tempted to say "yes."
posted by Afroblanco at 11:52 AM on May 12, 2010

I prefer to say "this isn't as good as it once was, due in part to a lack of creativity on the part of its producers although its lack of exclusivity and novelty is a factor too."
posted by MuffinMan at 11:59 AM on May 12, 2010

Ha! I've used the Cousin Oliver line before thinking I was being all original with my aging Gen-X pop culture references. I hope that one catches on.
posted by cazoo at 12:11 PM on May 12, 2010

I think so. That is, I think it's become a knee-jerk dismissal of things that others enjoy but which annoy the person speaking, akin to "Your favorite X sucks," rather than an attempt to describe a watermark in the actual decline in quality of some ongoing entertainment. (In other words, it's a catch-phrase that caught on and is now used unthinkingly.)
posted by aught at 12:11 PM on May 12, 2010

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