Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘Dads’: Possibly Worst Show Ever

Illustration by Eddy Vazquez.

Is it possible to be offended for women, men, minorities and humankind in less than five minutes?

In the four-minute preview of FOX’s new fall show “Dads,” multifaceted offense certainly seems the goal. The preview was littered with sexist and racist jokes, the worst including The Disney Channel’s Brenda Song being told to dress up as a naughty Asian schoolgirl –– complete with a little anime laugh –– while at work to help wow some Chinese businessmen.

“Dads” stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as two 30-something best friends who work together and try to grapple with their own quirky fathers who have come back in their lives for no other reason than to bother them. The show is produced by “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane and created by Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, which perhaps explains why any of these jokes were thought of as funny in the first place. The Asian schoolgirl joke goes further than her dressing up and having a girlish laugh; one of the fathers makes reference to how his son was turned on by her outfit, foreshadowing a romance –– cringe –– to evolve down the road. Spoilers have confirmed that the premiere also includes Hispanic actress Vanessa Lachey being mistaken as –– what else? –– a maid; a joke about “tiny China penises”; and another joke about how you should never trust a Chinese person (“There’s a reason Shanghai’s a verb,” says the same Asian-stereotyping dad from earlier).

It’s slightly understandable why the show thought this boorish brand of humor was acceptable. It has seen considerable success in cartoons like “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.” Even live-action shows like “Two and a Half Men” have lasted for years with gags about the size of women’s breasts. Also coming up this fall is CBS’s “We Are Men,” which doesn’t look like it’s going to be providing any nuanced view of what it means to be a modern man based solely off the poster. And it’s not just shows concentrated on men either. “2 Broke Girls” has also reaped the rewards of one-dimensional humor.

So why did FOX even greenlight such a show? It’s likely that the reason behind this content is that networks know they need something “edgy” to catch the short attention span of America –– which means pushing boundaries. MacFarlane has a track record of raking in the dough and the numbers by being edgy (see: the 2013 Academy Awards). In this case, however, the boundaries have been pushed too far. While this kind of humor may have been acceptable 10 years ago with shows like “Just Shoot Me” and “Two Guys and a Girl,”  this type of racism and sexism shouldn’t sit well in 2013. Shows with actual people as ridiculous caricatures only reinforce real-life negative stereotypes. No amount of money should be worth that.

Upon hearing the negative reviews of the show, FOX President Kevin Reilly reportedly “begged” the Television Critics Association to be patient with the show.

“Do I think all the jokes right now are in calibration in the pilot? I don’t,” said Reilly.

Even with the negative reviews, FOX will still air six episodes. The problem here is that we shouldn’t wait around with the hopes that a show like this will dramatically change its content and it will somehow be less offensive and more thought-provoking. Why would they? They’ve already figured out what kind of shows we pay attention to.

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