Friday, September 5, 2003

It's All... Stupid

Ok, there's a new show on ABC this fall, It's All Relative, that they've been promoting up the wazoo (so it must suck like an electrolux), which is billed as a sort of La Cage Aux Folles taken to the "what next" stage.

Lenny Clarke plays a Boston Irish Catholic whose son is engaged to a Harvard Medical student. Lenny's son is a bartender, and his fiancee has two gay dads.

Comic goodness ensues.

The ads run last night feature delightful light hearted name calling, featuring such lovey words as sissy-boy, pansy, etc etc.

It's being billed as sort of an Archie Bunker for the new millenia. Three episodes. I hope this thing keels in three episodes. How do I hate this? Let me count the ways....

1) Stereotype-o-rama. You want to offend? This baby's got it all!!! Gay men are well-coiffed, wordly, sophisticated and bitchy. Boston Irish Catholics are knuckle-dragging troglodytes who would call their prospective inlaws derogatory names (to their faces, and before the wedding, all true Boston Irish Catholics know to wait until at least the reception). Harvard students?: Modern and progressive. Working class joes?: Backward and offensive.

2) Fact idiocy. If you're going to offend people, do it with some intelligence. On last night's promos, as Lenny Clarke was bringing the nationwide view of Boston Irish Catholics (they hammered that point endlessly: he's not just from Boston... He's Irish! He's Catholic! My goodness, he probably is a repressed altar boy abuser himself!!!!) down a peg or eight, the two sophisticated gay gentlemen spewed their own invective: "Irish Catholic" "caveman" "Republican".


Just as now nation divided may long endure, and as a house built on sand will fall into the sea, no television show with writers for an abject disdain for truth will long entertain an audience. The strength of situational comedy lay in believable absurdity. Take a memory, event, or truth, particularly something painful or hurtful, push it two degrees past truth and caricature to create a safe distance, and you have humor. But you've got to base these things in truth, so that people will see it, recognize it, and appreciate it's difference from reality.

This is where "It's all relative" drives off the cliff. There is no such thing as a Boston Irish Catholic Republican. There may be a Loch Ness Monster, there may be a Big Foot, and there may be a pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow, but there ain't no such thing as a Boston Irish Republican.

(We gots plenty o' Boston Irish Republican Army sympathizers around here, but that ain't the same thing).

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