There’s something about Spence
King of Queens has been a part of my idiot-box dominated childhood, and till today it has never failed to make me laugh. The odd-couple, Doug and Carrie, and their incessant funny jibs and jabs at each other add to the hilarious sight of a flabby man wearing shorts to work while his hot wife sighs in regret in almost every episode. And then from their basement comes Arthur, a hollering crazy old man who actually carries the show through its nine seasons.
I love all the characters, Deacon, Holly and even Doug’s parents. But one character who etches a sketch of his own is the pudgy Spence Olchin. Seems like an everyday weakling who has got his lifetime share of ‘atomic wedgies’ in school. The audience can’t help feeling sorry for Spence seeing his share of miseries keep adding up throughout the show. That sorry excuse for a man can’t hold a proper job or a woman or even a place of his own.
I like Spence because he is a mixture of everything a woman wants hidden under a (according to Arthur), melon-headed man. He knows his stuff, he loves fashion, he absolutely adores his dog, he loves his rock and roll, he is a genius in the kitchen, he knows how to pamper his room-mate, a brilliant shuffle-board player, and the sexiest of all, loves the Trilogy of Grun. For a girl like me who can’t help but feel weak in the knees when I hear a man talking about intricate spells in Harry Potter or the best battles in Middle Earth, Spence Olchin is a major stud.
But what went wrong? I mean, Doug has a bunch of nitwit friends who hang around doing nothing and Spence is always in the background as a punching bag. Other than Danny, with whom Spence actually shares a Bert and Ernie relationship, everyone else seems to have no problems with confidence and attracting women. But Spence, who actually is the voice of reason and intellect among the odd group, is pushed down again and again and actually digs himself a cubby hole in the social order. The worst part of the scenario was seeing led to the belief that he is a loser and unworthy of anything or anyone.
When I think about it, Spence Olchin is a remarkably intelligent man who could have got any woman he wanted. Think about it! He was played by the sexy Patton Oswalt who didn’t need sculpted abs or strong arms to get a girl. Patton Oswalt himself is simply stunning when it comes to dressing up, portraying that sexy stubble every woman loves and that sweet chuckle when he cracks up. And with his brains and his up to date thoughts on fashion and trends, Spence was smexy as smexy can be.
And this is where the subject of people around you and how strongly they influence you comes into play. The Spence we see in groups was definitely the product of wrong people in his life, and how badly they have messed him up. This can be traced as far back to his mother. Anne Meara, the late wife of Jerry Stiller, is a mean and lean comedienne. She can split your sides with laughter and she can necessarily take every character she plays and weave a whole new pattern. Spence’s mom, is seen to be a single mother who simply admonishes her son throughout the series. She doesn’t actually care for him as much as she loves controlling his life. Her husband left her earlier which may have led her to be vulnerable around men and also sleep with those concerned immediately with Spence’s life, such as his gym teacher. In the series Spence lives with his mom until the age of 39 years. By then all the effects of mal-adaptive over-mothering, negligence and nagging have become so permanent that they would remain with him forever.
His friends happen to be a never ending buffet of small meaning jokes and situations, lacking depth of any kind. Spence can be seen receiving the short end of a lot of the jokes, even leading Doug to bully him as an adult. His continuous attempts to get his buds interested in something that he wants like art, literature and that sort keeps bouncing off the wall. What we end up with is a Spence who thinks he is no good because his dim-witted friends make him think so.
Spence constantly craves attention and closeness, something that he was deprived of earlier in his life. This leads to him acting many a time in an awkward, almost gay-like manner. His relationship with Danny is funny in many ways. The audience has to constantly fidget with the question as to whether Danny and Spence are actually Danny and his beau. Their fights, squabbles, living arrangements, long term investments, all just spike this up. They even get married in Vermont once, just to get a shitty plasma TV, which at that point of time was the all new rage.
About Spence and women? In all the episodes, Spence is shown to be a complete failure with women because of his hell-low self-esteem and his awkwardness at conversations. He only has one long-term girlfriend in the show who actually seems to like him, Denise Battaglia. And even this ends in failure at the altar when Denise leaves her husband-to-be and spurns poor Spence for another old boyfriend. Spence can actually attract a woman. Several women throughout the series have been attracted to him and have actually admitted it, one being a beautiful South American college girl and another one being a successful, much older, businesswomen. By jove, Spence also attracted the attention of a handsome man.
I wish that Spence Olchin had actually found himself by the end of the series. In many series we see characters evolving and maturing. But the only adult thing Spence had done was move out of his mommy’s house. But then it turned to be no good ‘coz Spence went from being overly-mothered to becoming overly-wifish.
There’s not much to say, except I have my own sigh of regret here. Spence would have grown to be the perfect guy by just tossing everyone crappy out of his life and by searching out for the right kind of people or just by being himself. With just a dash of self-confidence and realizing how amazing he actually is, he could have definitely been a hunk. Alas, he is a TV character of the past and will always be remembered as a wimp. I just wish I meet a Spence Olchin one day and show him how great he actually can be. Why? In the end, the underdog always wins right?