It appears that poor Randall is having some trouble with his love life. Either he has been participating in some unhappy relationships, or, like me, has been out of the love game so long that he has become bitter and disenchanted with the concept of romance. Contrast recent strips like 770 and today’s with the sappy shit he used to produce. For example, take this strip , which is so glurgy and saccharine that I just vomited a rainbow.
Given my (and many of you guys’) distaste for xkcd’s usual tack of “look how quirky and sweet our relationship is, aren’t we just the cutest couple on earth” crap, you’d think this sort of thing would be a welcome change. It isn’t. The whole “look how bitter and jaded I am” thing is just as bad as the quirky love thing; they’re just flip sides of a coin forged of pretension. So you’re sleeping with a girl you can’t stand, so much so that you huddle on the edge of the bed? Tough cookies. Kick her to the curb, or quit your bitching.
Aside from the whiny little bitch vibe this comic gives off, it fails on a few other levels. Part of xkcd’s draw has always been relatability; as much as we mock the whole “GOOMH” thing, fans seeing a bit of themselves or their lives in a strip contributes highly to its appeal. Even ignoring the “nerds don’t get laid” stereotype, do you really see a lot of fans going “GOOMH, I shared a bed with someone I hate, too!” Even if it’s a common occurrence, which I doubt, people generally don’t like thinking about uncomfortable situations. It’s an awkward reminder, especially when coming from xkcd, which tends to be pretty light and whimsical. It’s like reading Blondie and being reminded of the time your drunk uncle exposed himself at the family reunion.
The second issue is that it isn’t immediately apparent what is going on here. Of course, initially thinking they’re in love and then realizing they’re not was Randall’s intent, but until you really scrutinize the last panel, it doesn’t hit you right away. Slowly figuring out the punchline is fine when the eventual realization is really mindblowing. Here, the payoff is just some weepy emo shit, so the fact that it doesn’t “pop” makes for a really lackluster conclusion.
Third, as many have pointed out, this is totally an A Softer World rip-off.