Let's Cool It With the Washed-Up Actors Playing Themselves Thing

News comes in today that James Van Der Beek, former Dawson's Creek star and beautiful weep-god from teary heaven, has taken a role on a new sitcom pilot, Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23 (soon to be retitled The Girl Next Door or something equally tame, I'm sure). And it's not just any part; he'll be playing the dynamic role of... himself!

Yes, in the latest example of a somewhat has-been actor reemerging with a self-deprecating winky portrayal of themselves, Van Der Beek will play a satirical version of everyone's second-favorite late-'90s small screen idol (Pacey wins forever, obvs). Will he weep all the time? One hopes. There is potential there! But as a general trend, let's not let this thing get too out of hand, huh? I mean, it was cute when Van Der Wimple showed up on Funny or Die, and in an interesting way this casting news does confirm that his rebranding strategy was at least partially effective, but those videos were only a couple minutes at a time. Do we really need a whole television series full of Van Der Jokes? I don't think so!

Nor did we need a whole series of Jennifer Grey gags when the new-nosed Dirty Dancing star showed up, sad career hat in hand, on the 1999 disaster epic It's Like, You Know... People were initially mildly curious about seeing the one-time teen queen putting herself in a corner, but it quickly faded and the terribleness of the show was laid bare and it was promptly canceled.

Matt LeBlanc is currently pulling a similar shtick on Showtime's freshman comedy Episodes, which has LeBlanc playing himself as a womanizing millionaire (both true in real life) who is secretly sad (who knows!). It's not as much of a self-parody in the way that Van Der Beek or Grey are/were mocking themselves, and for the time being it works, mostly. Though one does tend to scratch one's head while watching the show, wondering what the point of the whole thing was. Sure it's a good joke at first — hey it's Matt LeBlanc talking about (fictional-ish) Matt LeBlanc things! — but then he pretty quickly has to function like any other character on the show and it's just Matt LeBlanc saying lines that another character, not named Matt LeBlanc, could also potentially say. I'm sure his presence helped get the show made, but the meta angle quickly begins to feel repetitive and useless. LeBlanc is actually pretty good on the show, it's just a shame he felt he needed to hide in plain sight.

Really I'm just worried that the recent Van Der Beek and LeBlanc castings will kick off a scary mini-trend. I mean, imagine Gabrielle Carteris lurching onto some TV Land comedy, doing a sad Andrea Zuckerman soft-shoe for our grim enjoyment. (Really. Imagine it.) Or shudder at the thought of Dustin Diamond making a (further) laughing stock of himself on a snarky Comedy Central multi-camera endeavor. The well of potential sadness goes pretty deep on this one. So I'd rather we all spared ourselves the discomfort by simply saying, "OK, cute, way to go Dawson. Weep on, proud spirit. But that's it. No more. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Jodie Sweetin." I really am, Jodie. Don't do it. Please.

[Photo via Getty]