Monday, April 29, 2013

Comics reviews for week starting 17th April

Discussion and spoilers ahead for Thor: God of Thunder 7, Hawkeye 9, Danger Club 5, Supergirl 19, Wonder Woman 19 and The Pride Adventures.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Elysia - a new comic about angels

I recently did my first Kickstarter pledge. It’s for a new comic called Elysia, and it’s a sci-fi fantasy story about angels.
I’m blogging it because they’ve got 5 days to go and just £883 left to raise, and I’m desperate to get it funded!
Here’s the link:
There is also a twitter account:

There will be 3 chapters, each of at least 100 pages. The main reason I’m backing it is because Jennie Gyllblad is doing the art. Long time readers will probably know how much I adore Jennie’s work. I’ll pretty much buy anything she does. I realise that my love for her work is probably not enough for most other people, so here’s some links for you to check out:
Prints for sale:
Jenspiration, her webcomic:
My review of Clockwork Watch, for which she did the art:

Serena Obhrai is writing the comic, her blog is here: Outside of chatting on twitter (where we have recently been discussing, with Jennie, the comparative hotness of Thor vs Loki) I don’t know Serena or her writing at all. I’ve had a quick glance through her blog and her prose seems good.

Here’s a synopsis of the story of Elysia:

The story is set in a fictional future where humans and their guardian angels live side-by-side and all angels must abide by the Three Angel Laws (inspired by Isaac Asimov):

• An angel must obey the orders given to it by The Higher Order of angels.

• An angel must serve to guard and protect their designated humans at all times.

• An angel must not engage in an act of fornication with a human at any given time.
The laws are mostly adhered to, however, there are some that choose to break them. Our story is set around the consequence of two such beings - Max and Devi - whose offspring has to suffer the harsh consequences and reality of her human scientist father and angel mother's choice to procreate, causing Elysia's wings to grow upon hitting puberty.
As her wings form, and she becomes an angel, Elysia has to face the fact that she is no longer human and must come to terms with the challenges that lie ahead with accepting her new form. Having been born with a lot more power and responsibility than she can accept, we follow Elysia on this epic coming-of-age journey where everything she knows no longer exists.
All the teenage angst involved with finding your place in life is nothing compared to the trials and tribulations that Elysia is faced with when confronted with the reality that she is the only key to stopping the Fallen Angel attack that is about to take over the world and all its inhabitants.
Each chapter will be printed in full colour, sized 260mm by 170mm and 100+ pages of awesome. The covers will be glossy and the page and print quality will be high to support Jennie's art style. We're pulling out all the stops to make sure this first print run is of the highest quality for you.
So it’s a coming of age story. Yeah so that’s not a new idea. I don’t think that matters, fantasy and sci-fi stories are full of similar tropes, what makes a story is good is the way in which it is executed. I have every faith that this team will be able to produce an excellent, engaging story. I know for sure that the visuals are going to be amazing.
Please consider backing this kickstarter! If they don’t reach their target no money will be taken and the comic will not get made. And that would make me a very sad bobbins indeed. And it would leave the comic industry that much poorer.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Something to make you happy

New Zealand legalised equal marriage today.  When the vote was announced the House of Representatives burst into applause and the spectators burst into song.

Read more here.

Now can we get the same thing happening in the UK please?

I wonder what song we'd sing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Race for Life

On 18th May I am going to do the Race for Life.  This is an annual fundraiser for Cancer Research UK who fund about half of the UK's annual cancer research programmes.  Participants can do either a 5k or 10k track, and they can run or walk.  I will be walking the 10k with a few friends, because I don't run, and I don't think I have a hope in hell of training up to 10k between now and then.  10k is about 6.5 miles, and I think it will take us between 2 and 2.5 hours to walk it.

So, this is a plea for sponsorship.  My fundraising page is here.  Please, please consider sponsoring me.  Even if it's just a penny or a pound.

As to why i'm doing it.  Well, with my new fitness regime the idea of a 10k walk is exciting.  I also like fundraising and giving to charity, but I can't afford to give a lot or money.  Doing a sponsored walk/run will hopefully allow me to raise more than I could personally give.

As for the disease itself, I have not been personally affected by cancer, but I have a few friends who have had breast cancer or lung cancer.   Family members and friends' family members have had skin cancer and other types of rare cancer.  My friends are fully recovered, thankfully.  Oddly enough they are not the primary reason I am doing the race.  I am doing it because cancer is a shit disease, and while my friends were lucky to recover, lots of people aren't.  It seems to me to be a very common disease.  I have no idea about general recovery rates, other than that every cancer is different so that every case is different.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Comic Reviews for week 3rd April 2013

Spoilers ahead for Animal Man 19, Batwing 19, Action Comics 19, FF 5, Princeless Vol 2 issue 1: get Over Yourself and the Superman vs Shazam trade.  The best ones are Princeless and Superman vs Shazam.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wonder Woman 19 - WTF cover

It is shown at Newsarama here.  Click the small cover picture to see the full gatefold.

Then go to the Newsarama facebook page and read all the comments about this.  I'll copy the relevant comments into the end of this thread.

People are saying that they think WW is cheating on Superman... why? Because of one kiss?  How do we know she didn't break up with Superman before hitting on Orion?  Assuming that is what is happening.  Then people are calling Diana a slut.. There are references to the Superman 19 cover, which is Supes punching Diana... because in an adult relationship the men must fight over the woman, like she's a piece of meat... Ugh.

It's too early in the morning for this much misogyny.

Then folk are commenting on the butt slap from one issue ago.  It infuriates me.   I wrote about this at the time.  You can't take that panel in isolation, it flows with the rest of the story.  Diana has bigger problems to deal with.

I just don't want the WW/Supes romance to spill over into Wondy's book in any way.  I just don't care for it.

There are some other interesting comments about continuity in the DCU.  I certainly feel that the WW book is very different from the rest, so I guess I can make it my own continuity?  Until Trinity Wars starts.. *sadface*

Relevant comments copied here:

Samuel Lee Smith I think that the Wonder Woman book isn't exactly in the same continuity as the rest of the New 52 at the moment.
Scott Gregson Aren't these characters supposed to be "people"? I'm pretty sure most "people" have had relationships that started out as a good idea then got kinda lame, where someone else has come along and taken your interest in a way that you would never have thought possible. Everyone calls out that comics need to be more "real" and not have a "status quo" but then writers who change things get labelled as jerks and people start calling Wonder Woman a SLUT! Two outsiders who have no human connections outside of a few people who fly around beating up bad guys find each other and realise they don't need to hide who they really are from each other. With both Supes and WW being as young and inexperienced as they seem to be played in the New52, I'm not really surprised by them hooking up. But then WW - who is a warrior princess, first and foremost - meets Orion - who is a warrior prince, really - and sparks fly on a much more primal level. Superman has never had a relationship before (outside MAYBE Lana Lang, idk) so he's going to react pretty badly to the girl he likes either cheating on him or just flat out dumping him. Give WW a chance to realise she made a mistake (and that mistake could be dating superman, or kissing orion, whichever way the story pans out). But I think, long term, BOTH relationships are flawed, both of them relying only on one aspect of WW's character. Lonely outsider (for WW/Supes) and Warrior Princess (for WW/Orion). Much like how Superman WILL eventually come back to Lois because the Lois/Clark relationship is far more healthy and all encompassing than the WW/Superman one. But for the love of Highfather/Arceus/Odin, let the stories play out. Let the writers tell their stories. Let the characters develop and come to the understanding in their own way and in their own time. Like, I dunno, real people. You want real characters and real stories in your comics or do you want rehashed silver age stuff? Cos they have collections of Silver Age comics for you to buy. Just go read them and let the rest of us enjoy these New Ideas - which may or may not be superior to the Old Ideas but are at least different.
Vince Gattuso I guess it wasn't bad enough that Azzarello has sullied Hippolyta, the Amazons, and Hermes but now it appears he's having Wonder Woman cheat on the Man of Steel with the Dog of War. 
Eric Reese They had more chemistry in six panels of one page than Wondy & Supes have had since New 52 JL started. 
Vince Gattuso A butt-slap is chemistry? Diana should have put Orion's head through a wall after that. 
Joshua Shifty Schiffman If you don't like it don't fucking read it you assholes. Jesus Christ people as Ive said before if you don't like the New 52 don't read it. Personally I love the idea of Orion and WW having an affair. She'll end up with Supes eventually(Kingdom Come in my opinion is how its going to all turn out).
Shannon Luchies Ugh. This is the guy who SLAPPED HER ASS. She shoulda taken his head off then. 
Alfred Day I love it! Especially with her as the aggressor. And if anyone has read any of the April Fool's issues, it's pretty clear they are mostly April Fool's tricks where the incident on the cover is not as it immediately seems inside. And I am digging Azzarello's Wonder Woman which is weird because I generally haven't liked anything else of his except 100 Bullets.
Kareem Yasin Supes punches Orion on another cover, so combined with the butt slap...

MeMyself Kris Wonder Woman cheating, Lois and Superman becoming parents, seems to all be working out for the WTF Certified idea. 
 Don Rychlick not good to show kid it ok to cheet on your boyfriend! 
Patrick Gerard The Superman relationship is kinda forced and most likely a setup for them to be exes during Trinity War.
Dion Nellist Slut  
Jacob Dougherty Makes a lot more sense in a story context (if you're reading WW) than the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship makes. Supes/WW felt when it was introduced and still feels like a gimmick that has no justification story-wise, especially since it's never even been brought up in Azzarello's WW.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The gym, the gay best friend, and performative sexuality

So. I'm still going to the gym.  I'm enjoying it again and I'm going regularly.  Tonight I went to a new class, Sh'bam.  It is described on the Les Mills website thusly:

Featuring simple but seriously hot dance moves, SH'BAM™ is the perfect way to shape up and let out your inner star - even if you're dance challenged.
Set to a soundtrack of chart-topping popular hits, dance music that is heard in the hottest nightclubs around the world, familiar classics remixed and modernized Latin beats, SH'BAM™ is the ultimate fun and sociable way to exercise. Each 45-minute SH'BAM™ class is vibrant, unique and varied - and like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new SH'BAM™ release is produced every three months with new music and choreography.

I thought it might be fun.  It was on at a time that suited so I went.  Now it probably isn't for me, although it was a decent workout, but there were a couple of things that really stood out for me during the class, that aren't what people would associate with a gym class.

The instructor we had is either gay or straight and camp.  For this discussion it doesn't matter whether he is gay or straight, what is relevant is how people read him.  Now, I've had a few male gay friends over the years.  I've read women's magazines, I've seen the films and the TV shows and I've seen how people react to men who read as gay or camp.  There's this concept of the 'gay best friend'.  In popular media the gay best friend is usually a supporting character, who helps the straight woman out with her romance problems, is flamboyant, a great dancer and dresses well. Often they are seen as non-threatening and just like a woman, but better because they are a man.

Then I see straight women in real life around gay men.  And the gay man is perceived in a certain way, they are perceived to be the same as the fictional characters on the telly or in the books.  And it strikes me that the women are treating the gay man as a commodity.  As an idea, not as an individual.  They all want a gay best friend, and they want them to act in a certain way.  They don't care about the individual.  They want the concept.  And sometimes it seems like they are fawning over the gay man, and vying with each other for his attention.  And I wonder why is a gay man afforded more (temporary, assumed) status than a straight man, or a straight woman, or a gay woman?  Or a bisexual woman or man.  What is it about the gender relationships and power balances that drives some women to want a gay best friend as opposed to a friend?

The whole thing is insulting it commodifies gay men and reduces them to their sexuality and an idea, a package.

And I see the women in the gym acting in this way with this instructor.  And it frustrates and saddens me.  Now this is not to say that the instructor is displeased with these women.  It's not to say that they aren't genuinely friends.  But it still saddens me because I think the relationship is riddled with subtle homophobia.

As for the performative sexuality part.  Well, the class was opened with the sentence, 'what happens in sh'bam, stays in sh'bam'.  I wasn't aware that I was signing up to a secret soriety, but that sentence seems to put forward an idea that the class is an exclusive club.  Then throughout the class there were women posing and strutting and checking themselves out in the mirror.  Now, the class is meant to be fun, and silly, and it is based on 'the hottest dance moves', but what I didn't anticipate was something which was encouraging us to shake our arse, our boobs and act like we were the sexiest things on the planet.

And that's what I mean by performative sexuality - I don't want to do that in the gym.  I'm there to work out and to get fitter.  I'm OK doing all that in a club (especially if I'm drunk), but at the gym I don't want it.  I'm not comfortable in an atmosphere that encourages you to perform sexuality, unless it's in a club, and even then sometimes I just want to cut loose and not give a fuck about being hot.  I don't want to have sex and sexuality creep into every area of my life.  I'm not a prude for saying that, I just think that there is a time and a place, and it is not in a gym.

A few months ago I was waiting to go into a CX Worx class.  It's to strengthen your core and improve your abs.  It's good, but it is bloody hard work.  Anyway, before this class there was this 40 something dude and his mate also waiting.  And 3 women in our 20s/30s.  The 40 something dude started the conversation by commenting about the Les Mills name - he doesn't know how to pronounce it. But he was leering, and insinuating that pronouncing it 'Lez' (not 'Lay') would be funny, and why would anyone have a name pronounced 'Lez'.  Which is incredibly childish.  He seemed to want us to join in with him.  We didn't.

One of the women explained how the class worked, what it did and why it is good.  Then he started saying that all of us lovely women didn't need to to work out, and he doesn't think any of the women here need to exercise hard.

I'm sure he thought he was complimenting us, but what he was actually doing was commenting and judging our bodies.  I don't want my body judged at a gym.  I don't want it judged by a  stranger.  I don't want it's attractiveness measured up.  The only possible way I want my body measured at a gym is to discuss how to get bigger muscles.  The other women were either giving nervous titters by this point or just doing half smiles.  I was probably glaring.

The thing is, he asked about the class, but really wanted to talk about our bodies.  he wasn't interested in what the women were saying, just in his own views.  Prick.  I was very pleased to see that he didn't cope very well with the class.

And that's my gym update.

Monday, April 08, 2013

More on Thatcher

So, as I sort of said in my last post I felt sort of conflicted about Thatcher's death.  Not anymore I don't.  I have been in a great mood all afternoon - since I heard the news.

I know this makes me a bad person. I know you shouldn't gloat or celebrate someone's death.  But I don't care.  I'm happy she's dead.

She brought in Section 28 which prohibited schools talking about homosexuality and bisexuality.  Effectively, schools coudln't mentioned lesbian, gay or bisexual people existed.  I regard that law as a hate crime.  It led to thousands upon thousands of kids being unaware they were normal, unaware there was nothing wrong with them.  It denied them access to resources to help them come out, it denied them support.  It allowed schools to turn a blind eye to homophobic bullying.   In all my time in school, being gay was mentioned once, when in the sixth form a Sociology teacher said Section 28 existed which was why they were unable to even mention homosexuality or bisexuality.  When I think of how confused I was growing up, when I couldn't work out whether I was gay or bisexual, when I think of all the self doubt and anxiousness this caused me, I know this could have been avoided or at the very least reduced if schools could even acknowledge that LGB people existed.  For Section 28 alone I am glad she's dead.

Here are a few more choice quotes about her, floating about twitter today:

@PeterTatchell # legislated UK's first new anti-gay law in 100 years: Section 28. She mocked the right to be . No such right she said.
Thatcher's death is throwing up a lazy misconception that never fails to enrage me: that acting decisively makes a woman a feminist. Wrong.

I was head librarian at one of my secondary schools. One job I was given was to remove all Oscar Wilde books because of Clause 28.

O' the irony: RT : "I owe nothing to women's lib. The feminists hate me, don't they? I don't blame them. For I hate feminism....

“Thatcher on feminism: "I hate feminism. It is a poison." Thatcher on Mandela: "He is a terrorist." Thatcher on Pinochet: "Welcome."

Let's remember Thatcher introduced Section 28, which means my school was forbidden for teaching me that I exist.

Except Thatcher's not dead. She's in every bloody atom of this so-called coalition's Britain.

So Thatcher's dead? No loss, fucking hated her.

"The impact she made here", ? That'd be shutting all the mines, surely?

Anyway. I was the child of a single mother who worked in education in the 80s......and experienced extreme homophobic bullying at school in the 90s, while Section 28 was still in force, so maybe I'm biased.

Thatcher directly and deliberately caused serious suffering for millions of people. Of COURSE a lot of them are happy she's dead.
It's not nice or pretty, but it's completely natural, and frankly, earned. So shut yer fucking pie holes. Let 'em celebrate.
I'd argue that this is maybe the one instance where it's not the people celebrating who lack empathy...

So, yes I am spiteful.   Fuck it.

Thatcher is dead

Good grief.  I can't quite believe it.  I'm not going to have a party because I think that's crass, and as an individual, I feel sad that she suffered and had dementia in her later years, but regarding what she did while in power....I loathe her.  I loathe her legacy, I loathe her politics, I loathe her actions, her rhetoric and I loathe her successors.  I do actually feel slightly cheered that she's now dead.  Which makes me a pretty terrible person, I know.

On twitter, @pgofton writes: This is a woman who had my mother in tears at the thought of her children dying in a nuclear war. Fuck her and fuck her legacy.

@paulcornell says: Except Thatcher's not dead. She's in every bloody atom of this so-called coalition's Britain.

@simon_price01 says: As a friend of mine succinctly put it, "Thatcher is dead. Now we need to kill off Thatcherism."

My twitter timeline is going to be full of rejoicing over the next few days.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  She ruined people's lives.  But I know that it's not a good character trait to celebrate over someone's death.  Mind you, people celebrate over dictator's deaths.  Now I know she wasn't a dictator but she did terrible, terrible things.

Abortion Support Network newsletter April

Here's the April newsletter from ASN.  Please read it an consider supporting them.
  • Report from the AGM
  • New website
  • ASN in the news
  • Women we’ve helped
  • Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising
  • Call for hosts in Manchester and Liverpool

Report from the AGM

Thanks so much to all the volunteers and supporters who came to our AGM and party! From continuing to increase the number of women we are helping to strengthening our relationships with grassroots organisation in Ireland and Northern Ireland, to growing ASN’s volunteer network, we have A LOT to be proud of. If you missed the party, you can follow this link to our 2012 Annual Report  If you would like a hard copy of the report, please email us.

We also wanted to shout out to ASN’s AMAZING VOLUNTEERS. Whether they are letting women stay in their homes overnight, taking calls from women in desperate circumstances, designing our annual report, writing this eBulletin, managing our Twitter account and Facebook page or giving us advice on the best way to move forward, our volunteers are PRO CHOICE ROCK STARS.

And finally, at the AGM we said goodbye to two of our longstanding trustees - our treasurer and the chair of our board. Words cannot express our gratitude for how much they have helped us and we look forward both to working with them in different capacity in future as well as working with the new trustees that will be announced in our next Newsletter.

New website!

If you’ve visited lately you may have noticed a few changes. We’ve updated our website to be more user friendly for both our service users and our supporters. Hope you like it!

ASN in the News

This month, ASN was featured in the Spring Issue of Bitch Magazine, "The new law of the land: pro-choice meets pro-church in Northern Ireland's first abortion clinic"

We also took part in a Guardian live chat on access to abortion on 13 March

 Women we’ve helped

In March, ASN heard from 26 WOMEN, including:

The mother of a teenager who was drugged and raped at a birthday party, which brought echoes of the Steubenville, Ohio rape case to this side of the Atlantic. This family was faced with a number of hardships in addition to this crime, and while they were able to raise a small amount of money, this was used to pay for a passport for the young woman. Before they contacted us, the girl was so desperate to end the pregnancy that she tried to self abort and self harm. ASN was able to cover the cost of the procedure as well as flights for the young woman and her mother. Said her mother: "God bless you all. What you are doing will eventually save my daughter's life".

“Myself and my partner have found ourselves in a very difficult financial situation as he has recently been made unemployed and we are struggling to keep our home. I have suffered from depression for over a year now and am finding this situation very difficult to cope with. I have recently been ill and believe that is why the contraceptive pill did not work.”

A mother living with friends as all her utilities have been cut off. In debt and just out of an abusive relationship where her partner beat and raped her. Receiving treatment for depression and panic attacks and has attempted suicide in the past. Has sold everything non-essential to cover cost of food and other necessities for herself and her children and was also able to raise 50 Euros towards the cost of her abortion. ASN was able to book her flights and pay the majority of the cost for the procedure.

“I'm 19 and a student and I'm approximately 18 weeks pregnant. I can’t financially and emotionally support a child so I'm planning on having an abortion. The problem is my partner and I have both been saving and scraping money together but we're still short. I was enquiring as to whether we could get any assistance, be it monetary or just providing us with somewhere to stay when we get there.”

“I am the mother of one little adorable boy. I have been living in Ireland for many years but am not Irish. My partner has been out of work a while now and last month I have been told that my job was gone too. A few days later I found out that I was pregnant. In our current situation it is impossible for us to rejoice over a new arrival when we don't even know how we're going to manage to pay our next rent. It is with a lot of sadness that we come to the agreement of having an abortion. But we know that it would be unfair to bring up a child in such unstable environment.”

“I am in need of an abortion. I am from Ireland and do not want to continue this pregnancy. I have booked an appointment with Marie Stopes in East London. Are these a reputable clinic?”

Heard from a young woman on her way to the clinic for a termination due to a foetal anomaly. While we were able to arrange a last minute grant, the client wound up being turned away from the clinic as her BMI was too high for them to perform the procedure.

We thank these women and men for allowing us to share their stories.

Fabulous fundraisers!

We keep telling people how easy it is to “fun-raise” for ASN, and here are a few examples!

Aine O'B hosted a cocktail party and raised £111.00 for ASN! Says Aine: “It was really easy to raise money for ASN, and also to raise awareness. Lots of the people I invited to the cocktail party had no idea abortion was so restricted in Ireland, and more said they knew but had never thought about it or had never really thought about abortion at all.”

Bébhinn F helps host monthly Dublin Nights for Choice and in March raised €560/£468 for ASN! The next Night for Choice is this Saturday, 6 April, and will benefit the Abortion Rights Campaign of Ireland.

Mary B is a London-based artist who is having an exhibition from 7-19 April at the Polish Cultural Centre (POSK) at 238-246 King Street, Hammersmith W6. There will be a private view Sunday 7 April from 5-8 pm. Check it out – and should you be an art enthusiast and moved to make a purchase, a percentage of proceeds from sold work will be donated to ASN!

Doesn’t fundraising for ASN sound fun and easy? Please do get involved!

If you are a runner, the Flora Women's Mini Marathon - held annually in Dublin - is the largest all-female running event in the world! This year it will be held on the 3rd of June at 2pm (the Irish June bank holiday) and will start at St. Stephen's Green. If you're interested, please sign up for the Mini Marathon here and email to find out about raising funds for ASN – and ASN t-shirts!

Or you can check out ASN’s fundraising toolkit which is chock full of easy to implement ideas for fundraising.

Call for hosts in Manchester and Liverpool

ASN has recently had an uptick in calls from women in the Isle of Man, as well as from women travelling from N/Ireland to Manchester and Liverpool. Do you live within 30 minutes of the MSI Manchester, South Manchester Private Clinic (SMPC) or bpas Merseyside clinics and have a spare room, pull out sofa or air mattress and the desire to have a direct impact on a woman in need? Please get in touch - even if you’ve been in touch previously – as we’ll be scheduling a day in both Liverpool and Manchester for host interviews. Contact Mara or 07913 353 530 if interested.


Call +44 (0) 7897 611 593 or email

Abortion Support Network (ASN) is an all-volunteer charity that provides accommodation, financial assistance and confidential, non-judgemental information to women forced to travel from Ireland and pay privately for abortions in England. The cost ranges between £400 and £2000 depending on circumstance and stage of pregnancy. While other organisations campaign for law reform, ASN is the only group on record providing women travelling for abortions with the thing they need most immediately: money.

Registered Charity Number 1142120
Copyright © 2013 Abortion Support Network, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Abortion Support Network
London, Greater London W4
United Kingdom

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Big Bang Theory

I got the season 1 box set from friends for my birthday.  Just watched the first episode.

People say that it is demeaning towards nerds.  It occurs to me that if you took out the canned laughter and look at it as a show about a group of good friends, it's not demeaning at all.  It's fun.  Sheldon is ribbing Leonard a lot about his attempts to score with Penny.  Leonard is trying hard to score.  Penny is very friendly, polite and sweet.  The other two also seem fairly normal.  The only difference between this and shows like Friends is the science references, and the canned laughter encourages you to laugh at the men, apparently for being intelligent.  Which is fairly similar to how Ross was treated in Friends.

But if you ignore the canned laughter, you don't get a show laughing at intelligence.  The text itself doesn't mock the characters.  It's good.