I just finished watching the premiere of “The Goode Family” on ABC. Aside from being generally bored – I didn’t laugh once! As someone whose all-time favorite show is Strangers With Candy and favorite films are Waiting for Guffman and Welcome to the Dollhouse, I am not unfamiliar with comedy. I can almost hear the creators saying “It’s just a show, Joshua…”
Maybe I felt like the characterizations of activists and vegan dogs was simply inaccurate. For example, I have a healthy happy vegan dog who doesn’t eat neighborhood birds or cats out of desperation and I know plenty of socially savvy smart people with strong ethics. The point of the show isn’t just to show some random family who is attempting to do all the right things in the wrong way. There’s a reason these characters are the main subjects.
True comedians know that humor is based in grievance. We laugh because we know it’s not right. We laugh because we know it’s true. But what happens when the creators of this ‘comedy’ ask us to laugh at something we know is right? Or they ask us to laugh as something we know is untrue. Well, in short, it fails. It’s not funny to anyone aside from bullies, jocks, and jerks.
So, what do you do when you feel completely powerless to change, and undereducated about most political, ecological and economic issues? You ridicule those who do know about them and feel empowered, of course! Your grievance becomes about your own inadequacies as opposed to the larger cultural problem.
This show is like all the meat-heads and bullies I’ve encountered growing up. These bullies mock the ‘smart kids’ and the ‘do-gooders’ because it’s easy and it makes them feel better about not doing squat. Being lazy and careless is easy, especially if you can poke holes in straw-men, and dismiss others who are not apathetic as being deprived, crazy hippies.
Outside of the pinatas he’s helped create for this show, Mike Judge’s belief that do-gooders motivation is simply guilt, is a childish failure to understand the very real ecological, economic, and political crises we face. In other words, most activists know there is more at stake than their own feelings.
It has much less to do with the “opinions” of tree-huggers, and much more to do with the fact that they see real problems and they act to solve them, as opposed to those who would simply ridicule them for being proactive because they themselves feel powerless and dumb.
The show will clearly fail because on a fundamental level, the comedy just doesn’t work.
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Arthur Schopenhauer – German philosopher (1788 – 1860)