Subculture of the Week
aka: Exotified Subculture Of The Week

An episode of a TV show, especially a Crime and Punishment Series, focusing on a particular subculture. Accuracy is optional, since the only research that goes into the episode is reading the paper...especially when even the paper isn't right. This is also common on Medical Dramas with the subculture having a connection to the Patient of the Week, and Sitcoms when one of the main characters becomes involved with a strange new crowd.

The subculture in question is most often presented as one cheap stereotype after another. They aren't just average people with non-mainstream interests. Rather, they are total creeps with no social skills unrelated to their subculture, which dominates every aspect of their lives. For example, if it's sexual, they'll wear fetish gear to the supermarket and make inappropriate come-ons to the main character. If it's gamers (video or tabletop), they'll play to the point of addiction, live with their parents well into their 30's, possibly imitate the violence they commit in the game, and are probably virgins. If it's NeoPagans, they'll wear ridiculous Goth or New Age clothing and talk about casting spells and "cursing" people they don't like. To real people within these subcultures, the misconceptions and poor research on these shows can be either a source of Snark Bait or a Fandom Berserk Button.

See The Quincy Punk, Small Reference Pools, Public Medium Ignorance, Drop-In Character, and the Ghetto Index. Compare Mistaken for Subculture.

For more info, see check the Useful Notes page about Subcultures.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Literature 
  • In the Lee Goldberg novel Mr. Monk in Outer Space, an investigation takes him into a convention of fans of the show "After Earth", who among other things, bicker about whether they should be called "Earthers" or "Earthies" —- an obvious Trekkies expy. Even Monk finds them bizarre and scary. (Or should one say, especially Monk.) Particularly after finding out that his brother is the leading authority on the show's fictional "Dratch" language. (Named after series staff member Daniel Dratch.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Bill featured a guy playing an "Assassins" style game using a realistic looking paint gun in public. People who play these sort of games do not use realistic weapons. One guy from the Oxford University Assassin's Guild did that and encountered some armed police.
    • The 'armed police' problem also happened with Glasgow's Assassin's Guild.
    • Humans vs. Zombies players have had basically the same problem.
    • All this has led to something called Deathgame, practiced in Sweden, where you "kill" your opponent(s) with fruits and vegetables.
    • The problem's this can cause mean that most long lasting Assassins Society's, such as Durham University's, have good relationships with the local police - normally informing before any game begins. The kill methods are also restricted to obviously unreal weapons (paper knives are fine, but not a larp sword).
  • CSI: NY
    • The episode dealing with Water Wars. Again, someone uses a realistic looking water pistol.
    • They also dealt with Le Parkour.
    • There was also the "Down the Rabbit Hole" episode which dealt with Second Life. This spanned over two episodes rather than the usual one. (Fame and relationships within the game had almost nothing to do with the murder, however. "Venus", or rather the girl dressed as her, was killed by a professional assassin who was trying to take her real and online identity and use Second Life to gather information.)
    • And one about "vampire cults" who drink each others' blood. Surprisingly, no vampires committed the crimes. The episode treated vampirism like an unpopular but venerable religion.
    • Yet another episode involved the owners of adult dolls (although it turned out that the doll ownership was irrelevant to the murder). Basically, CSI: NY, like all of the shows in the CSI Verse, is pretty much in love with this trope.
    • On one time the team investigates a murder on a gaming convention, and while there's some disparaging about people who play video games for a living, they still consider the motive (the multi-thousand-dollar grand prize of a gaming tournament and hacked consoles that allowed cheating) pretty seriously.
  • Many of the cases on CSI have dealt with some sexual fetish, subculture, or hobby.
    • The infamous episode "Fur and Loathing", set at a furry convention began it all. The portrayal of furries caused considerable controversy in that fandom. The episode was even a Jump the Shark moment for some, who saw it as the start of a freak-a-week format.
    • An episode where the victim, a powerful casino owner, was an adult baby in his spare time.
    • "Slaves of Las Vegas" introduced viewers to Lady Heather and her BDSM club. Lady Heather actually became a well developed (if only sporadically recurring) character.
    • A murder-at-the-Star-Trek-convention storyline, albeit with the serial numbers filed off. Trekkies, Trekkies everywhere... and a bit of deconstruction about how even if "Darker and Edgier" is supposed to be the 'hot new thing' with creating remakes, not a lot of people are willing to accept it, or can write it well (and yes, this was an important part of the murderer's motive, although it was mostly the fact that her work was plagiarized, and it still was an Accidental Murder.)
    • "Unleashed" dealt with note  Human Pet role play note .
    • "The Panty Sniffer". You can guess what fetish that episode was built around (and Nick was equally embarrassed to be in the same room as the man who led him into figuring it out).
  • The CSI: Miami episode dealing with videogames, in which the characters had to actually play the game in question to find out its plot, which was necessary for them to solve the cause. Why they don't just look up its plot online is anyone's guess. There's also a notable level of New Media Are Evil in the episode. In the episode, a video games company decides that a good advertising tactic for their GTA clone (which somehow still had "levels" and "points") is to give teenagers submachine guns and have them rob a bank, with bonus points if there's a police officer inside and for rape.
    • "Rich people doing crazy things for the sake of getting entertainment" was pretty much a constant Acceptable Target on this series. As an example: a group of professionals that performed simulated kidnappings for hire—the idea is that the people who hired the group's services would go through the standard "rescue thriller" motions and get an adrenaline rush out of it, with a lampshade that Rescue Sex was a pretty typical aftermath of the service. Unfortunately, the guy who hired their services on the episode ended up deciding mid-Rescue Sex that it would be interesting to see how murder sex would feel like...
  • Bones does this quite often. There has been episodes about competitive arcade gaming, role-playing teens, pony play fetishists, and karaoke singers (with actual former American Idol contestants).
    • Mostly averted in the episode dealing with black metal, though. Some of the stranger excesses of the subculture are brought to the fore, but Bones's psychiatrist is revealed to have a history in the scene and Booth compares the distaste over it to his dad's distaste for punk. The most significant error they make is that, while virtually everything regarding extreme black metal is true to a degree, the death metal subculture really isn't as violent or cult-like as the Norwegian black metal scene that clearly inspired the events of the episode. Furthermore, few death metal bands wear corpse paint, or use fake names, and only a handful are satanic. Additionally, the music the bands featured in the episode play bears scant resemblance to actual black metal and is more akin to groove metal or nu metal, making the bands in question all examples of Scary Musician, Harmless Music.
    • Roleplayers in particular were compared to school shooters.
    • They applied the zero-research attitude to Wicca.
    • This also gets annoying when Sweets (the psychiatrist) "analyzes" the subculture in question, and ends up pretty much generalizing the entire subculture and assuming everyone who's a part of it thinks and acts exactly the same.
    • Doomsday preppers, of all groups, were declared freaks. Even Sweets declared them irredeemably freakish. Just being part of a doomsday prepper group makes you a viable murder suspect.
  • One of the defining examples was "Next Stop, Nowhere," a.k.a, "the punk rock episode of Quincy." In the '80s Hardcore Punk subculture, the episode spawned the slur "Quincy punk," applied to scene members and bands who personified the old Sex Pistols stereotype of the sloppy, antisocial, mohawked/spiky-haired punk rocker. This was at a time when hardcore was about dressing normal, playing tight, and maintaining a positive or at least thoughtful attitude.
  • In one episode, only one cop on Law & Order had heard of foot fetishes.
    • The franchise as a whole (The Mothership, SVU, and CI) tends to treat sports fans this way.
  • One Pushing Daisies episode focuses on a murder at a rent-a-friend agency. The actual customers are portrayed sympathetically, but Ned eventually decries the whole enterprise as useless, because while the patrons may enjoy it for a time, "deep down they never stop thinking of themselves as weirdos who need to be fixed".
  • Most crime shows had a vampire-related episode at some point of time.
    • Criminal Minds even did some namedropping by referencing Twilight. At least they didn't portray the subculture as the cause of the culprit's murderous ways; it was made very clear that the killer was suffering from a rare mental illness that provoked obsession with blood-drinking, and had likely had it since childhood.
    • Hilariously, an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this with a vampire wannabe cult (mind you, in a show where vampires were very real). At one point, Angel (the resident good guy vampire) is complaining about how these kids know nothing about vampires, don't know how they dress... and pauses as a guy walks by dressed exactly the same as him. At the end of the episode, Buffy has to save the vampire wannabes from the real vampires, who mostly just want to kill them and feed off them.
    • Supernatural also did an episode about vampire wannabes. It starts off as a funny Take That! against Twilight, but, this being Supernatural, suddenly gets a lot darker, when Dean discovers the vampires themselves are pushing the recent vampire obsession, to get more willing victims for a vampire army.
    • Castle did a Halloween episode with the vampire subculture. The victim's family dislikes it, but the team treats it with respect. Ryan even admits to having dated a "vampire" in the past, and the only turnoff for him was having sex in a coffin. Otherwise, he describes it as a club like any other: "You like sports? I like sports. You like to drink blood? I like to drink blood."
    • An episode of CSI had a werewolf LARPer as the Victim of the Week... and then it turns out that his "clan" was on a pretty heated rivalry with a vampire LARPer group (so we have simulated Fur Against Fang) and then it turned out that the kid used to be a vampire but because he was dating a "werewolf" girl he switched groups (and the both of them were starting to see the whole thing as too dumb and were planning to ditch the groups), and this alone made members of both groups decide to drag him into the desert and nail him to a barbed wire fence to die from exposure and blood loss as befitted a "traitor". The investigators had to occasionally remind the members of both groups that they weren't supernatural beings and to cut it out and give them a straight answer.
  • An episode of The Mentalist featured a young Wiccan, who naturally came under suspicion when one of her peers was killed in a ritualistic fashion. An especially aggravating case as half the facts spouted about Wicca were blatantly wrong. Contemporary Pagan religions often appear in shows like this, and rarely do the writing staff seem to feel any compulsion to actually research them first.
  • House:
    • A sixth season episode used bloggers as the Sick Sad Subculture. Seeing as everyone and their grandmother has a blog these days, seeing it portrayed as a crazy new subculture was... odd. The show wasn't explicit that all bloggers were exhibitionist freaks, but it was pretty clear that the particular patient was taking it waaaaaaay too far (compulsively documenting literally everything except her bowel movements and even leaving her medical decisions up to popular polling among her readers)
    • Renaissance Faire playacting was held up to the light in another episode from the same season. The POTW was a jousting knight who took the Medieval code too seriously, not taking into account the "king" he pledged fealty to was just a garden variety yuppie douche in real life. The implication was that this extreme attitude is common.
  • The late-60's revival of Dragnet used the hippie counterculture as a recurring subculture-of-the-week in a number of episodes. The most infamous of these is the "Blue Boy" episode, for its Narmy take on LSD. Joe Friday references in dialogue the notorious urban myth about teenagers tripping on acid blinding themselves by staring at the sun.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • One episode had the detectives practically declare an adult had to be a pedophile... because he collected Transformers.
    • In one episode, several of them express incredulity over the theory cited by a colleague that a man might be gay even though he has a wife.
    • In another episode, the idea that someone could be bisexual rather than straight-out gay seems to be bizarrely unheard of, sparking more astonishment from the characters.
    • There was also a Ripped from the Headlines episode inspired by Gamergate called "Intimidation Game". As with countless examples on this page, it depicted gamers as a whole as insane freaks unable to tell the difference between video games and real life, and Gamergate as an ISIS-esque group who routinely kidnap, torture and rape women.
      • It ended up being so bad in fact that it's one of the few issues both sides universally agree upon (albeit for different reasons depending on who you'll ask)...and considering how we're talking about one of the most infamous cases of Internet Backdraft of all time (and we'll leave it at that), that's a real accomplishment
  • In Nip/Tuck the client/patient of the week was often part of some strange subculture.
  • The whole point of the MTV reality show True Life seems to be to subvert this, as they visit the lives of people involved in various subcultures regularly. More often than not, though, it winds up as a double-subversion.
  • The Wiccans featured in True Blood's fourth season are presented this way. First, it seemed everything the writers knew about Wicca came from browsing an occult shop for twenty minutes. Second, everyone in Marnie's coven except Holly and Jesus (both of whom we met in the previous season and were actually good examples of normal witches) were either sociopaths like Marnie and Roy, or idiot teenagers who were only there to piss off their parents. And then there's the rather painful mispronunciation of "Samhain".
  • Castle has, so far, largely subverted the "horrifically stereotyped" part. Probably due in part to Nathan Fillion being a fan of several of the subcultures that have appeared so far. And him having a sizeable chunk of fans who are in one or more of those subcultures. The show actually tends to go the other direction with it, such as when Beckett was suspiciously knowledgeable about the BDSM scene, or Castle's fanboying over the whole concept of Steampunk.
  • Monk has episodes where Monk investigates murders committed in different subcultures: "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert" has the music industry, "Mr. Monk and the Rapper" involves rappers, "Mr. Monk and the Naked Man" has nudists, "Mr. Monk Takes a Punch" involves a hit put out on a professional boxer, "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike" and "Mr. Monk and the Candidate" involve city politics, "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas" involves casinos, and so-on.
  • In two Hawaii Five-O episodes, the subculture was astrology. Stereotyping was largely avoided, as the astrology was portrayed accurately (a prominent local astrologer is said to have been advisor), and they were noncomittal on the "validity" of astrology. (In the first episode, the killer turns out to be trying to make facts fit the theory.)
  • Pretty much every episode in the Dutch reality-TV show Valerio Duikt Onder. The premise of the show is after all that the presentator Valerio Zeno would go towards members of a particular subculture and engage in their activities so that he and all the people who were watching could understand what the subculture was about. Unlike most other examples however most members of the subcultures he talks about seem to enjoy it. Probably because he only acts out on the people in front of him and not on media stereotypes.
  • Criminal Minds has a lot of examples for their serial killer rampage targets: swingers, spring breakers, religious fundamentalists, those with an obsession for First Person Shooters, Jackass-style dares, BDSM, the music industry, Horrible Hollywood, Fight Clubbing, Stepford Suburbia (and how far it's willing to go to keep being such), hobos, gambling addicts, absurdly corrupt politicians, ConspiracyTheorists, the comic book industry... the Gothic culture (or at least the "Hollywood" emo, "life sucks so bad I may as well kill myself and wearing dark clothes is how I am screaming for help" kind) has been either the target or the Red Herring of at least three cases and toxic school environments (of the "you guys know that being bullied and ostracized like this is one of the leading reasons for Columbine copy-cats, right?" type) was an important factor in the snapping of two killers so far.

     Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Toyed with in the Futurama episode, "Where No Fan Has Gone Before"; the antagonist Melllvar is an obsessive Trekkie, and the episode goes on to explain that in the past, Trekkies became their own religion and started a devastating war that forced the show itself to be banned.
  • Frequently on King of the Hill, Bobby would get involved with a strange new crowd, much to Hank's dismay. Even when the group is harmless and Bobby picks up a constructive hobby, Hank will still stop at nothing to pull his son out of it in favor of something "normal."
    • One of many examples is the episode where Bobby falls in with a group of Collectible Card Game players who are also seemly Neopagans (especially model after Wiccans and Hellenists (Neo-Greek Pagans)) due of their group name "The Coven of Artemis", style of group are so happens they were purple robes and have seemly worshiped Greek deities (Pan and Artemis) with Occult rituals. It casts both subcultures in a negative light and portrays them as one and the same.
    • Not even Bobby finding an honest and well-paying job that he actually enjoyed doing (and could do even if he was underage) was safe; because this job happened to be for-hire picking up of dog feces for rich guys who didn't cared to do it themselves. Hank saw it as denigrating work, he said so to Bobby's boss Peter Sterling, and he eventually managed to guilt-talk the man into showcasing said denigration and convince Bobby to quit... by way of hiring some thugs to pretend to be bullies that mocked and then brutalized him by tossing him into a port-a-potty and send it rolling down a hill (Sterling only wanted them to mock him, but he had the bad luck of asking Jimmy Pritchard to do it).
    • Another episode showcased many people on Arlen (including Hank's boss Mr. Strickland) going through an "ecological" phase (Bobby got into it to try to impress a girl he liked at school). While Hank started the episode hating it, he eventually saw that it was a good thing and convinced Bobby to keep at it while all the other characters ditched it because it had stopped being "cool".
  • Later episodes of The Simpsons have been using this trope heavily, featuring subcultures and lifestyles that have gained prominence in the few years leading up to the episode, in an attempt to keep the show relevant.

Alternative Title(s): Exotified Subculture Of The Week, Freaks Of The Week, Sick Sad Subculture Of The Week

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SubcultureOfTheWeek?from=Main.ExotifiedSubcultureOfTheWeek