Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Adequate Family

The season premier of The Goode Family came and went last night with a few laughs, a few groans and chunks of silence. There were only a couple mentions of veganism. I'm sure they'll focus more on it in later episodes (in fact, I know they will, since I saw an ad that involved Dad Goode refusing to slaughter a pig).

At any rate, I think I get a Dad Gold Medal or something for getting Anna to bed by 8:00 so I could watch it. It's all for you, reader. It's all for you.

The episode starts out with Dad Goode boasting that he got a bag of elephant manure at the circus. "They were just giving it away," he says in his blank effeminate voice.

Two things:

1: I was recently contacted by a friend who is planting a garden. She asked me if I know of a place she can pick up manure for free. This friend's husband owns a motorcycle. She is a cosmetologist ... I think. Neither of them are vegan. Neither of them are craaaaaazy environmentalists. So ... I don't get the joke, I guess is what I'm saying.

2: Honestly, could you paint a more stereotypical image of a socially and environmentally conscious man? And isn't this whole view a wee bit dated?

Adopted Son Goode points out to Dad Goode that the circus exploits animals. Yeah, they do. Where's the joke? WHERE IS THE JOKE?!!

Mom Goode's reaction to all of this is that "being good is so hard!" What the fuck ever. Holy crap, anyone who is living the kind of life these people are living (you know, lives that take into account the environment, other people and animals) isn't the kind of person who bitches and moans about how haaaaard it is to do good. Bah!

Here are a few more "jokes" and why they just don't make sense and/or aren't funny.

Dad Goode clips a paper towel in half and says, "waste not, want not." Really? Would a craaaaazy environmentalist family such as this have paper towels in their house? My brother and sister-in-law (who aren't craaaaaazy environmentalist, but responsible citizens who do what they can) did away with paper towels about half a year ago. It's not funny, it's smart. Again, where's the joke? Why is it funny?

The Goode's say that their dog is vegan. This is, of course, ridiculous. Their dog might be fed a vegan diet by the Goode's, but the dog isn't a vegan because he can't make the decision to be vegan. Veganism is a choice. Dogs can't make that choice. So the joke is that the dog is supposed to be vegan, but goes around eating all the neighbors' pets. Har har.

There are, of course, plenty of dogs out there on vegan diets. They do just fine. They may occasionally kill animals in the back yard. Who knows. It doesn't the change or belittle the fact that their custodians have chosen to not use the flesh of one sentient being just to feed another sentient being. (And if their point is that dogs aren't "meant" to be vegans then I'd counter that humans aren't "meant" to own dogs.)

Mom Goode goes to a Whole Foods parody and sees different options for apples that range from "Conventionally Harvested" for $4.99/lb all the way to "Fair Trade, Locally Grown, Sustainably Harvested, Certified Organic" for $10.99/lb.

This and other jokes lead me to wonder whether or not anyone creating The Goode Family knows what they're talking about. Why the hell would something that is grown locally also be fair trade? This makes no sense. Fair trade is a label applied to goods brought into a region from a different region (I think in all cases, it's country to country). If you're going to make a joke (and again ... where is the joke?) about something do your friggin' homework.

I'm serious Goode Family creators. Do you need someone on staff there who can help you out? I'm available, cheap, and believe it or not, I have a really good sense of humor (for stuff, you know, that's funny).

Later on, Daughter Goode says, "I'm vegan. I've reached my weirdo tipping point." At first I bristled at this, but you know what's funny? I've actually felt this way before. I'd be fine if they explored this more. I mean, she's a teenager. She worries about being normal just like any other teenager would. I'm sure my daughter will have moments like this.

Other issues with the show:

Mom and Dad Goode are drawn about ten years too young. Then again, their glowing youth could be attributed to their vegan diet. So maybe that's not a problem after all.

Adopted Son Goode (he's white and from South Africa) was adopted as a baby and lived his whole life in the US. So why exactly is he made out to be a big ape? I don't get it. He speaks sorta-broken English. He's sixteen, but when faced with the prospect of getting a drivers liscense he sticks his arms out like he's driving a car and says "vroom vroom" like a five year old. He starts acting hungry and Dad Goode says, "Uh oh. We'd better feed him." There is no explanation for this. Honestly, even with all the environmentalist "humor" and socially conscious "jokes" this is what I found the most offensive. I think I'm just offended that they thought I'd find it funny though.

The Goode's own a hybrid car that looks like a box on wheels. Seriously, did someone just exhume a script from ten years ago and just throw it together now that King of the Hill is cancelled? Hybrids look like any other car! Are they making fun of hybrid cars? Why?

That's the question I find myself asking most in regard to this show: Why? Why is that funny?

The thing is I honestly can't tell you what the creators of this show think about the environmentally conscious. I'm tempted to say that mockery is the sincerest form of flattery. The Goodes cannot be the subject of this show without also being the protagonists. Viewers will root for the Goode Family (even though they may laugh at them).

King of the Hill invited you to laugh at rednecks, but then realize that they're good people anyway. The writers always made sure you knew at the end of the show that they were good people in spite of the fact that they were rednecks. At any rate, you were rooting for a redneck family. Which, well, that's a win for rednecks, right?

What I really don't understand is where's the logic behind vegans and environmentalists being bad people and somehow having to prove to the masses that they're actually nice people. Why would this family ever have to prove they're good in spite of their being good?

Maybe that's not where they're going to go with this. Maybe the humor will be in the interaction between people trying to be good and people who don't give a fuck. I hope that's where it's heading.

Here's a funny joke from last night: "Attention shoppers, the driver of the SUV is in aisle four."

Also, they had some funny flag pin jokes. Funny stuff. I want more of that.

Another positive from the premier: Maternal Grandpa Goode is over for Adopted Son Goode's birthday and wants to take him out for steak and strippers. He presses it a bit and Mom Goode puts her foot down, "Where do I begin, Dad!" He says, "OK, happy birthday. Sayonara," and like that he's gone. I thought it was great. It wasn't funny, but it was a good slice of vegan/omni interaction that was sort of true to life.

Um, OK, that's enough review. I think I'll keep watching the show and post a small round-up of vegan jokes/misinformation from each episode. I'll watch it so you don't have to (if you don't want to).

You can watch the episode online now at Did any of you watch it? If so, what were your impressions?


Lisa -- Cravin' Veggies said...

I missed it on TV, but watched it online yesterday. Like you, I found some laugh-out-loud moments, but not too many. I am giving myself a few more weeks... Sometimes pilot episodes over-exaggerate and try to squeeze too much into that one episode, so we will see what weeks 2 and 3 bring.

BTW... I thought the same thing about the paper towels! And I really didn't get the adopted son. Initially, I thought maybe he was supposed to be mentally handicapped, but now I don't really know what they are trying to portray him as.

Becky said...

My husband and I felt very much the same way you did. It seemed like it could have been written in a day by almost anyone. It just wasn't very creative. I agree, though, that the flag pin jokes were funny.
With the son, I wondered if they were trying to make his character sort of like Chris Griffin because Family Guy is so popular. ??? That's the only explanation I could come up with.
I do plan to watch a few more episodes and I definitely plan on reading your reviews!