ALL THE PILOTS: Dads / Brooklyn Nine-Nine

17 Sep

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is good! I’m not really going to talk about it! It didn’t blow me away or anything, but it’s got an incredibly promising foundation, which is frankly the more important thing for a comedy pilot. It also looks like the writers already know how to balance their ensemble, which is a great sign going forward! Good job, Brooklyn Nine-Nine!

SHOCK OF THE CENTURY: Dads is terrible, and it only looks worse next to Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

It’s actually to FOX’s credit that there’s not a single sitcom on their lineup – from this year or last year – that they could have paired with Dads. It’s here because it’s a Seth McFarlane show, otherwise it would have gone straight to CBS, or maybe NBC, if CBS passed and the desperation hit NBC juuuust right. I don’t exactly know how we got to this point in television history (KEVIN REILLY), but it’s off-brand for FOX in 2013 – it would fit tonally with McFarlane’s other shows in the Sunday animation block, but they phased out of live-action on Sundays a few years ago, and McFarlane’s stranglehold on animation has been slipping.

So here it is in the Tuesday sitcom block, looking like it got lost on the way to the timeslot after Two and a Half Men, kicking off a night of critically popular shows.

I have to assume everyone on this show is in it for the paycheck and nothing else, because I can’t imagine them putting any kind of sincere thought or energy into their roles and feeling like that effort has been at all worthwhile. Veronica’s primary role is to be fetishized and repeatedly sexually harassed to help a business deal along, including the last-minute resolution when the deal is saved because someone sent her unsolicited dick pics. It’s not like I expected a thoughtful reflection on what it’s like to be a woman in the gaming industry. Nobody would ever expect anything even remotely thoughtful or emotionally honest from this show – so what makes someone sign on for such an obviously artless, soulless, heartless, careless, piece of shit TV show, particularly in a role like Veronica’s, if not the money?

The jokes are garbage. The acting is garbage. The writing is garbage. Everything’s garbage. Linda Holmes, queen of saying worthwhile things about worthless shows, has already said it better.

I do want to point out that there’s a weird disparity to the ~CLASSIC MCFARLANE SEXIST/RACIST HUMOR, where deliberately offensive behavior is funny on its own terms, but unthinkingly offensive behavior is funny because the character should know better. The end result is that a show that deliberately shuns anything resembling the moral high ground then immediately turns around and makes a series of jokes that require it. The sons telling Veronica to dress up as a sexy Asian schoolgirl to woo investors is supposed to be funny because it’s sexist and racist. The dads saying “Orientals” is supposed to be funny because oh my god, don’t they know you’re not supposed to say that? It’s so embarrassing when your parents say racist things and don’t even have the decency to be edgy about it. I feel weird about criticizing a show for…not being consistently racist? But it’s just another reminder that this is a garbage black hole of effort with no point of view and no reason for existing other than “Seth McFarlane wanted a sitcom.”

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