I spent much of yesterday eagerly awaiting the premier of Mike Judge’s new animated series, The Goode Family, on ABC. Then I fucked up my DVR and accidentally recorded Get Smart on HBO instead, and so I have far less to say about it than I’d hoped, on account of not having seen a single second of it.
I did read the Times review of it, though, in which writer Ginia Bellafonte argues that the show, which features a family of “zealot, vegan, recycling nut cases who don’t fight over paper versus plastic because they believe in neither,” seems hopelessly stuck in another era, before political correctness and environmental consciousness ruled the land. One passage in particular struck me as a bit odd.
But the show feels aggressively off-kilter with the current mood, as if it had been incubated in the early to mid-’90s, when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed. Who really thinks of wind power — an allusion to which is a running visual gag in the show — as mindless, left-wing nonsense anymore?
To which one might respond, “Well, uh, lots of people? Who maybe don’t read the New York Times every day?” And that is why it’s such a bad time for a show that pokes fun at liberalism. Awareness of environmental issues is indeed higher now than it’s ever been, and this is a very good thing. But Judge’s biggest flaw (and, sadly, what has made him so successful) is that he has always hated earnestness as much if not more than he hates stupidity. If there’s a liberal idea that’s to be mocked right now, it’s not that using too much gas is something to feel guilty about, or that there’s a certain level of hypocrisy inherent in trying to live responsibly—it’s that there are people who believe everyone has already adopted the cause. Judge is giving the holdouts a reason to continue holding out, and it’s incredibly irresponsible, if not unexpected.