As of this writing, the most recent episode of The Simpsons is “No Good Read Goes Unpunished”, in which they briefly offered a response to comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem With Apu. The documentary used the Apu character as a jump-off point to discuss the marginalization and the extremely reductive view of South Asians in popular media, particularly drawing on his experience as an Indian-American forced to reckon with a greater population who didn’t view his cultural heritage beyond Apu behind the checkout counter at the Kwik-E-Mart saying “thank you, come again”.
In “No Good Read Goes Unpunished”, the B-plot involves Marge rediscovering a beloved book from her childhood called The Princess in the Garden, only to realize how racist and imperialistic it was in an attempt to read it to Lisa. Marge later attempts to make edits to the book in order for it to fit current-day sensibilities, or in Marge’s words, “It takes a lot of work to take the spirit and character out of a book, but now it’s as inoffensive as a Sunday in Cincinnati”. Lisa quickly recognizes that Marge’s changes to the story sanitize the whole plot and calls it out, leaving a frustrated Marge to ask what she’s supposed to do. Lisa breaks the fourth wall and replies:
Something that started decades ago, and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?
As she says this, the camera pans down to a portrait of Apu with the caption “don’t have a cow!”. Marge responds by saying “Some things will be dealt with at a later date,” with Lisa quipping “If at all” as they both stare directly in the camera.
A lot of the response The Simpsons has gotten to this has been negative.
Continue reading “The Problem With The Simpsons”
So comedian Roseanne Barr has rebooted her popular sitcom series from the 1990s. As a comedian who courted a lot of controversy in her heyday as a sitcom star, the premiere of her reboot has followed that same pattern. The controversy for this reboot is in regards to the Roseanne Conner character and Roseanne Barr herself being outspoken supporters of the always incendiary President Trump.
The politics of both Roseannes has come as a surprise for longtime viewers of the ’90s sitcom, considering that it had more of a left leaning slant at the time. It directly challenged the patriarchal “father knows best” mentality that was a staple among sitcoms by framing the housewife as the glue that holds the family together. Roseanne was a show that prided itself in tackling working-class issues from a Woody Guthrie-esque point of view yet also wasn’t afraid of tackling issues related to racism, women’s rights, and LGBT+ rights. Outside of the show, Roseanne Barr once upon a time ran for president under the Green Party. So what happened here?
And who is Al Capp and what’s Roseanne gotta do with him?
Continue reading “Who is Al Capp?”
The premiere of Hanna-Barbera’s sitcom The Jetsons in 1962 introduced America to your average nuclear family of the distant future. This served as Hanna-Barbera’s counterpoint to their other animated sitcom The Flintstones, which premiered two years prior. Just as The Flintstones did with its prehistoric setting, The Jetsons used its Space Age setting to make social commentary about the rise of consumerism in the immediate post-World War II economy.
Continue reading “Suburbia Malaise: George Jetson vs. Harold Smith”
One of my earliest blog posts was an essay defending Johnny Bravo from a feminist perspective. In my defense of it, I mentioned in passing that one of the ways that the series still falls short of truly being a feminist show was that it potentially diminishes how detestable his behavior towards women is.
This post is partially a response to that one. I grossly undercut how pernicious the show’s treatment of Johnny’s behavior towards women is.
Continue reading “Johnny Bravo and the Pitfalls of Satire”