‘The Goode Family’ is Bad.

Meet the Goodes

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)

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15 Responses to ‘The Goode Family’ is Bad.

  1. Becci says:

    Lame. I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed.

  2. EY says:

    Well, if we are to look at other TV as a measure, I see this show as a huge success.

    It requires no intelligence to understand, is completely narrow-minded, and just downright stupid…

    Like most TV shows…

    Very nice write-up, I’d add.

  3. jordan says:

    While I think the show sucks, I take it being on the air as a good sign. I mean, the issues are raised in a lame way, but they are raised.

    I don’t know how to explain it. I have just found that the people who were the first to ridicule me in what I was doing were also the first to go vegan themselves.

    Veganism is on another wave of popularity and this is the natural course of events.

  4. Ari says:

    GREAT blog!! It’s really sad that things like global warming, eco-consciousness, and animal rights get marginalized as liberal, “hippy” issues. Bullshit. EVERYONE needs to care about these issues. You can’t live in your HUMMER when there’s no more water to drink or food to eat. As Josh so eloquently put it, people don’t give a shit or live a certain way because they feel guilty, they do so because they want to make a difference.

  5. Jason says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never done a damn thing out of guilt (and that’s not just because I’m a sociopath). Some of us really do want to make a difference, and even moreso, some of us actually do base our actions and choices on what we believe is the right thing to do.

    Josh, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “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!”

    I often find that people attack vegans by implying (or outright saying) that we’re hypocritical because we’re imperfect people living in an imperfect world–yes, we create waste, live in cities, contribute to pollution on some level (albeit a much smaller level), etc. Because (as you say) they feel powerless, they believe our efforts are pointless. If you’ll allow me to get Kantian, they think we live our lives this way as a means to an end, rather than as ends in themselves. We’re vegan because we believe it’s the ethical, conscientious, moral way to live our lives; we’re not merely vegan because we want to reduce animal suffering (although we do). Choosing to be vegan is choosing to live an honorable life.

    As I often tell my friends who love challenging me, I don’t refrain from stealing, vandalizing, raping, murdering, etc. because I want to reduce New York City’s crime rate; I simply know such things are wrong, and committing those crimes (particularly the latter two) never enter my mind. Likewise, I know the exploitation of animals is wrong, and actively participating in it never enters my mind–even though in the world in which we live, we can easily get away with it.

    Clearly, Mike Judge isn’t an enlightened comedian, and I believe true comedy should and does have that power–to enlighten.

    Here’s hoping our actions and efforts will contribute to a more enlightened world–one that will see our collective dysfunction diminish in order for our own species to survive. (Yes, I really believe that.)

    • I am Mister Big says:

      These posts are all priceless, really. The creators of “The Goode Family” could point to any of these entries and use them them as a justification for their show.

      Why isn’t Mike Judge an “enlightened comedian?” What is that, anyways? It’s insulting frankly that anyone here would give him comedy tips. You may not like his comedy, his writing or his political beliefs (I defy one person here to know his political leanings strictly from his work; he is an equal-opportunity satirist), but he has created a pretty impressive body of work and has a legion of dedicated fans. You’re acting like he’s Larry the Cable Guy!

      In general:

      I don’t understand how this show is narrow-minded. These characters have the same principles that you have. They are presented sympathetically, not ironically. And c’mon – are you guys denying the existence of liberal guilt? Really? No one acts entirely altruistically – at least all the time!

      Finally,
      The vegan dog thing is really odd to me. You are simply imposing/projecting your beliefs onto your dog. I’d make the argument that you are being cruel to your animal since you are not allowing him/her to eat what comes naturally for him/her to eat (they don’t call those flesh-tearing teeth canines for nothing!), but I know you are doing what you think is best. As long as you understand that he/she, like Che, probably REALLY would like to eat some meat.

      Learn to laugh guys…it’s a wonderful thing.

  6. bboy says:

    it amazes me how many people seem not to get the point of this show. if you don’t get it, that’s probably because the show is aimed at you – at destroying your environmental OCD. do you really think turning off your kitchen light is gonna change anything? your time and worry would be better spent down at the airport blocking the runways. much of the environmental movement defies even the most simple logic – that’s the point of The Goode Family. i guess there’s some Texans who don’t appreciate King of the Hill, either. don’t continue to be a sucker.

    • The problem isn’t that we don’t get it, it’s that the grievances being filed are based in factual inaccuracies and ignorance – so they are only funny to people who are ignorant about the issues. If you attempt to point out a hilarious truth, it helps if it is actually true. For example, the vegan dog thing isn’t funny because it is so factually inaccurate. It’s just bad comedy.

      As for your airport runway comment, livestock production causes more global warming than all transportation combined. So blocking airport runways is less effective than being vegan, according the the United Nations Report, Livestock’s Long Shadow. It’s also much more legal (for now) and safer and tastier.

  7. mmg says:

    Joshua – love your response to bboy, and I wish more people would read Livestock’s Long Shadow and actually DO something about it. Grr.

  8. Tim Putnam says:

    Somehow, I hadn’t even heard of this show. I’m glad my introduction to it was through such a well-written review. Thanks, Joshua! Your bully and ignorance insights seem spot-on.

  9. […] Catcher of the Discerning Brute had some strong words to say about the first episode of the show. He writes: This show is like all the meat-heads and […]

  10. i must be a jerk says.! says:

    this guy seems to have a big chip on his shoulder,im not a vegan, so i must be an uneducated jerk ass bully as far as this dude is concerned.My problem with the show so far is that i dont feel the charecters have any room to grow(and thats not just because there boring no good do gooder’s)it just seems like it will turn into a big steaming pile of compsote before the season’s end.king of the hill on the otherhand seemed promising evan from the begining and evan after 13 seasons im not sure this show will be seeing the glistning steel of the corparate axe anytime soon,but back to this vege freakshow of a cartoon about..well? vege freakshows!…i dont like it!! no sir not for me ill give it 2 dice,dice because of the gamble im takeing on makeing these asertions about a show ive only seen few episodes’ of.thanks for wasting valuable eye time on my comment before you go blind,in closing welcome to the doll house stunk and so do you!.

  11. veganerd says:

    Pathetic digs on the most ethical, efficient lifestyle ever lived.

  12. poopypants says:

    The bottom line is that if you’re going to be mean, you better also be funny. This show fails in this regard. It’s mean spirited and cynical, without any humor to make that worthwhile. I agree, it pretty much sucks.

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