17
Sep
2013
Dads: Season 1, Episode 1
Pilot
Michael Richardson
Friends, television enthusiasts, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Taste, not to praise it. The jokes about Hispanic maids that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their teleplays. The noble Seth MacFarlane told you that Taste was the enemy of comedy, and that making racist, sexist jokes was subversive and witty. And MacFarlane is a hilarious man, so it must be so.

MacFarlane says that Dads is not a racist show, and that he himself is not a racist. Dads simply uses outdated stereotypes of Hispanics, Asians, and womenfolk, not because anyone one believes them, but because they’re goofy, I guess. Taste would suggest that simply invoking stereotypical behavior is in no way funny, because it doesn't actually subvert expectations but only makes light of the suffering of the underrepresented and maligned. But MacFarlane says this work is unnecessary, and that his “jokes” are just challenging the PC mindset. And he is a hilarious man.

Yesterday the word of Taste might have suggested that having two main characters request that an Asian woman dress up as a Japanese school girl in order to impress Chinese businessmen to score a deal would not only have been deeply offensive and misogynistic, but would have also shown a gross ignorance of even basic history and geography. Taste might have suggested that simply indulging in stereotypes like this, without the craft or ironic distance of a joke, actually perpetuates that belief we were ideally mocking. It might suggest that making the characters who make this odious request the most “likable” people on the screen reflects a viewpoint that is hidden better when producing, say, animated programing.

If that were the case, I should do MacFarlane wrong, and Giovanni Ribisi wrong, and Seth Green wrong - who, you all know, are hilarious men.

I write not to discredit these actors, who are truly a wonder to behold. While Martin Mull and Peter Rieger once considered themselves allies to Taste, their presence here, spouting lines about playing a videogame called Punch the Puerto Rican and the economic gain to be made from a black Santa, have clearly enjoined them against the fallen. And Ribisi and Green are truly deserving of such material, mugging for the crowd like members of a high school improv group. Does it seem like this already objectionable material was somehow let down further by actors who couldn't deliver a zinger without putting their whole body into it? Yet Seth MacFarlane says this is hilarious, and he is a hilarious man.

O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their funny bones. Bear with me.

Even Taste would have agreed that it’s presence was not needed if the jokes had their intended effect, a single laugh or guffaw from the masses. But beyond the script, lacking anything that would produce an ounce of mirth, the people behind the camera are sadly amateurish. If our wonderful, hilarious actors can’t make their lines work, it wouldn’t be too much to ask for a humorous visual joke. Alas, even the editing lacks any kind of cohesiveness, stepping on the “jokes’” toes consistently and generally acting like they’re trying to get fired from a sinking ship. But that would be ridiculous - these people are professionals.

No, kind souls, Taste has been marred not in the service of jokes or humor, but rather the laziest pieces of writing that still managed to pull one over the executives at a major network. The memory of Taste has compelled these people to apologize for what they have created, telling us to give it time, that it get’s better after the pilot. I, for one, don’t see how that is remotely possible. In order to gain back any kind of goodwill from the people who hated this pilot (and we are legion), it would have to become Downton fucking Abbey overnight.

My heart is in there with Dads. It has at least two talented people on cast, and if only everything else it was different, this could have been a fun premise and an enjoyable - if unnecessary - sitcom. “You just can’t make a joke out of everything,” Green intones to his father. If only these hilarious men took that sentiment to heart.

Grade: F, and let slip the easy, lazy, pointless jokes of war.

Miscellany:

-Fun Fact: While watching this show, I at one point became physically ill. Correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation, of course.

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