Monday, June 24, 2013

Tv Shows That Disappoint

More often than I'd like, I'll be sitting and watching one of my favourite TV series, or a movie by a director I love, and all of a sudden - bam! - some racist/sexist/otherwise terrible shit occurs on screen. It really jarrs me out of the viewing experience, to be honest. I can't quite think about it in the same way. It's like when you're sitting with a group of people who you previously thought were alright peeps, and then all of a sudden one of them says, "That's so gay!" or "I was totally gypped!" and you feel that little stab through the heart like Ugh! We were fine, but now you've made me uncomfortable and I have to tell you and YOU'VE RUINED EVERYTHING.

So unfortunately, here's a couple of my favourite shows and/or things that have disappointed me recently:

Malcolm in the Middle

I recently re-watched season one of this show, which was somehow better than when I watched it originally. It might have been the adult jokes I didn't get when I was younger, or because Bryan Cranston was in it, and after obsessively watching Breaking Bad it felt like watching Walt's secret previous life. It even seemed progressive! Look, one of the recurring characters is a POC* and disabled! Unheard of!

It's also just a really funny show. Lois, the mum, was one of my new heroes. She's always putting everyone in their place. It's awesome. Up until the very last episode of the series - Water Park.

In  this episode, the family decide to take a day off and go to a water park, sans Dewey who has to stay home. Rhys and Malcolm are fighting the whole time, running around and shouting at each other. So far, pretty normal. Then Lois does her 'big angry speech' about them ruining the day. Here's a quote from it:

'Do you think we're wealthy?! Wealthy people drive fancy cars. They have fresh pasta. Do we do any of those things?! No! Wealthy people can afford any of their vacations ruined, no big deal. They just pick up and go again. Your father and I worked so hard, so long. What is wrong with you two?! Are you aborigines?! Every time I turn around, I hear someone screaming and fighting. And I pray to God that's someone else's children, but it's not, it's always you!'

At this point obviously my laughter turned into shock. Did she literally just say that on the screen? After I finished the episode, I went online to re-read the script and make sure I'd heard properly. Yep, there it was. Blatant, weirdly out-of-character racism. There had never been any previous mention of her character being racist in the show, at all. Nothing. So why was this in the script?

I have no explanation whatsoever. It's bizarre. And very disappointing, from a show that won so many awards and was so good up until then.


source: tumblr
It goes without saying that I love Futurama, and have for a very long time. Unfortunately, they've let me down. I found the first episode of season 7, 'The Bots and the Bees' really problematic. Bender has a child with a drink vending machine, and the machine takes custody of the child. All of the jokes are based on the fact that the vending machine is a bad, neglectful mother who lives in a trailer park. Which is pretty basic classism, and really unfunny stereotyping. Even more confusing, for me, is that the vending machine was voiced by Wanda Sykes, who is actually a really awesome comedian. She is also a WOC, and while I completely respect her choice to voice the character in the show, I'm disappointed that the show would ask her to do it. The implication of the character is far too in keeping with negative stereotypes of WOC for it to be an appropriate casting choice. Then again, I think this episode should just never have been written in the first place. It wasn't funny, and it was racist and classist as hell.

Bryan Cranston

Oh Bryan! I had so much respect for you. I still do, but it really was disappointing to read this:

In the midst of an otherwise awesome AMA. That said, he's raising money for an organisation that helps missing kids. But you know, someone can do a bunch of awesome stuff and still slip up. It doesn't make it better.

So that's it for now, I'm sure I'll be able to do another one of these posts very soon considering this sort of shit occurs in like every show or movie that I ever seem to watch. Anyone else have these moments when things you love let you down? I feel like I have to end this post, yet again, with this:

*POC = Person of Colour, WOC = Woman of Colour

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