The Load. If you ever watched “Mystery Science Theater 3000” you will immediately know what is meant by that sparse verbal description. Within those two simple words are conjured, among the knowing, images of French archaeologists stumbling in the darkness of the world below, goofy little Jewish Sergeants who have no business climbing up rocks in search of a lost continent and gobs and gobs of Japanese kids in disturbing shorts. The Load. Everything you absolutely do not want to be stuck with when the going gets tough or even just barely tolerable. The Load is not something to be found only in B-movies to be riffed upon. The Load is quite possibly wasting oxygen without and body tissue within on your favorite TV shows.
Arguably, the most iconic Load in sitcom history is none other than George Costanza. Here is a guy who not only brings nothing to the table, but is at the center of an episode in which he actually complains about having to bring something to a party. At the very least, George Costanza is the totemic Load of 1990s TV, regardless of the genre. Nothing at all that Jerry, Elaine and Kramer do together or separately could not be done at least equally well in the absence of George and, in a great many cases, it is obvious that anything they do might have turned out considerably better had they not been loaded down with too much Costanza. In many cases, George Costanza creates an obstruction to the best laid plans of Elaine and men. Because, of course, that is the very definition of a Load. He exists primarily to be helped and only to provide help by accident.
Of course, one might equally well forward the argument that the prototype of the 21st century Load to come was formulated in the 1990s with the appearance of Bill Dauterive on TV in the show “King of the Hill.” He was born in Louisiana (Loser-ana) and moved to Texas so, right there, you can clearly see that Bill was kind of born to be a Load. Hank Hill, Dale Gribble and Jeff Boomhauer are called upon nearly on a weekly basis to retrieve Bill Dauterive from such Load-worthy hazards as being whisked away by a bunch of helium-filled balloons wrapped around his ankle, dressing up in his ex-wife’s clothing during a fugue state in which he thought he was her, and escaping from the forced workout of steroid cases who are, actually, Loads themselves.
The loyal manservant of Edmund Blackadder definitely qualifies as a Load in any series of the show save the first. Ask just about any fan of “Blackadder” to rate the times periods in which the series take place in order of funny and the Medieval period will probably rank last. Perhaps not coincidentally, the very first “Blackadder” series is also the only one in which Baldrick is smarter than Edmund. In the rest, he is simply a British Load.
Never watched “24” but it is my understanding that Kim Bauer may well be considered the Load of the Millennium thus far. While it is impossible for me to speak with any intelligence on the character of Bauer, I think perhaps the most interesting aspect of her appearance here is related more to the absence of the sacred feminine Load. It would seem that being a Load is really what separates the men from the men; is there a glass ceiling when it comes to the Load on TV?