this rubs you-know-who the wrong way


Senior Member
Czech / Czech Republic
Hello, please could you read the following section and suggest, if you can, any synonym or reformulation of the underlined elements? This is in fact a section from a handbook of pedagogy, speaking about the nature of genres:

Imagine yourself turning to a favorite fictional show. .... See the first establishing shot and hear the familiar background music. ... Now a new character is introduced. He is witty, polite, and well dressed, but clearly worried about something. He jokes suggestively with the show's female lead. This rubs you-know-who the wrong way.
Suddenly that new character is shot down in a hail of bullets. ... He is dead, blood is everywhere.
If your favorite show were a situation comedy, this scene would be quite shocking and disturbing. It would stick with you throughout the next days and weeks. If your favorite show was a police medical drama, it might warrant a shrug.

Thank you for any help.
  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    If someone "rubs you the wrong way," there's something about him that bothers you somehow. A lot of the time you can't really put your finger on what.

    -What do you have against Bob?
    -I don't know; he just rubs me the wrong way.

    In this context, the new character rubs someone the wrong way. Unfortunately, I don't have enough context to know who "you-know-who" is.

    As for "it might warrant a shrug," it's used to emphasize the contrast between the different reactions the same scene provokes depending on the genre. If the show is a comedy, the scene is shocking; if it's a police medical drama, you will hardly have a reaction. The scene "might warrant a shrug," i.e. it might be deserving of a shrug, but nothing more, and maybe not even that. You are a lot less likely to be shocked by the scene if the show is a police medical drama as opposed to a comedy because you're more likely to expect this kind of scene in the former.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I guess that in this particular context the context is a caricature. You-know-who is meant to represent the archetypical jealous male who, in TV-land, can be relied on to react aggessively when there is any competition for the lead female.
    The expression to rub someone the wrong way is N. Am. English,
    (as in the earlier example, he just rubs me the wrong way).

    In British English, the expression is to rub someone up the wrong way as in:
    He rubbed him up the wrong way and this led to an argument.
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