The Telefile

Dads: Much Offense Taken

by admin September 18, 2013 6:00 am
Dads: Much Offense Taken

Much ink has already been spilled about the way the Fox sitcom Dads has pissed off Asian-American groups with its "jokes" about sexy Asian schoolgirls and Chinese businessmen with strange sexual peccadilloes. Based on the jaw-droppingly unfunny pilot, though, there are plenty of other demographics that can and should be offended by this fall's worst new comedy series, co-created by Seth MacFarlane during, we're assuming, whatever downtime he had while directing his sophomore feature film, A Million Ways to Die in the West. (The show's laziness and general absence of humor certainly suggests that his attention was elsewhere.) Here are the various lobbying groups Fox should expect to hear from any minute now.

Between Fox's Dads and A&E's Modern Dads, there's never been a worse time to be a father on television. At least the reality-based Modern Dads have only themselves to blame for putting their suckiness on display for the general public to see and laugh at. As the titular pair of decidedly not-with-it patriarchs, poor Martin Mull and Peter Riegert -- both of whom are veteran award-winning TV actors -- are completely at the mercy of MacFarlane and the team of chimps (we assume, based on the quality of the scripts) he's got writing for him. Mull's Crawford in particular gets the raw end of the stick in the pilot, having to refer to the aforementioned Chinese businessmen as "Orientals" (one of the many gripes Asian-American groups legitimately have about the series) among other racial slurs (such as his proposed video game Punch the Puerto Rican) and accidentally dropping his towel and flashing his junk at his grown son's hot wife. But Riegert's David doesn't exactly escape unscathed, claiming his son's bed (and bathroom) via a coin toss and gifting the kid with a framed photo of his old man as a birthday present. 'Cause nothing's more hysterical than neglectful, emotionally abusive dads! Compared to these idiots, Phil Dunphy ain't looking so bad.

We'd like to think that we weren't (and aren't) as obnoxious to our own dads as the supposed "heroes" of this show, Warner (Giovanni Ribisi), son of Crawford, and Eli (Seth Green), son of David… and if we were, we sincerely apologize. Whether engaging in a "Whose Dad is Worse"-off (the game that MacFarlane was probably playing with a random PA when he dreamed up this pitch) or promoting sexual harassment in the workplace by making their long-suffering assistant Veronica (Brenda Song) dress up in that controversial Asian schoolgirl ensemble and then leering at her, these two are every bit their father's sons. Which may be part of the joke, but like everything else on the show, it isn't remotely funny.

Were it not already called Dads, an alternate title for this show could have been, Wives, Amirite? At least, that seems to be the punchline to every scene between Warner and his perpetually exasperated better half, Camilla (Vanessa Lachey, picking up a paycheck while Nick tries to get that 98 Degrees reunion tour off the ground). Even though she would appear to have legitimate gripes about her husband's conflict-avoidance strategy in regards to his dad as well as Dad's penchant for walking around the house in just a towel, Camilla is written and performed as that depressing sitcom staple -- the shrewish killjoy. In case you needed more proof of MacFarlane's confirmed bachelorhood, Dads makes it clear that he'll never walk down the aisle. Not that any woman would want him to, if this is what he thinks marriage is like.

Domestic Workers
Just when Lifetime's hit soap opera Devious Maids was on the verge of upending stereotypes about Latina maids (yes, our tongue is firmly in our cheek as we say that), along comes Dads to set this undervalued, underrepresented segment of the workforce back another ten years. Eli's housecleaner Edna (Tonita Castro) speaks heavily accented English and takes advantage of her employer. And if you're wondering whether she's also intensely religious to the point where she mutters "Diablo" under her breath, don't worry… those jokes are coming in Episode 2.

Video Game Designers
Cannily capitalizing on an industry that's of particular interest to the youth of today, Eli and Warner are introduced as proprietors of a video game company called "Ghost Child Games," which is responsible for such apparently popular titles as Kill Hitler and the new Kill Hitler Part 2. And if that's really the best fake video game title that MacFarlane can come up with, he should avoid ever going into the business himself, considering that actual video game designers have come up with far more amusing (and 100 percent real) game names like Spanky's Quest, Sticky Balls and, our favorite, Shaq Fu. Also, the brief glimpse we see of the game makes it look like a Doom rip-off from 1993, which, conveniently enough, is the same era the show's sense of humor was ported over from.

Buffy Fans
Like everyone other die-hard Dingoes Ate My Baby groupie out there, we've been eagerly awaiting Seth Green's full-time return to live-action series television after more than a decade spent voicing his Family Guy character and playing with action figures for Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken. But did he really have to pick this as his comeback vehicle? It's painful to watch Green work overtime to sell this sludge, especially when his eyes so frequently scream "Get me out of here!" We stuck by Seth even though that whole Old Dogs fiasco, but you're on your own with Dads, old buddy, old pal.

The Other Sister Fans
Surely, there's got to be devotees of the 1999 Giovanni Ribisi/Juliette Lewis mentally-challenged young people in love rom-com out there somewhere, right? No? All right, carry on then.

Simpsons Fans
The good news: Dan "Homer Simpson" Castellaneta's surprise cameo (as a voiceover artist in the cold open) lasted only five seconds. The bad news: It was still five seconds too long.

Laugh Track Technicians
We can only imagine how exhausted the poor soul in charge of the canned laughter had to be after shoehorning fake chuckles and belly laughs into every other minute of the pilot. We can only hope the experience inspired the engineer to go full-on Norma Rae and demand hazard pay for the unsung heroes of bad comedy pilots. Or at least basic disaster insurance.

Viewers Like You
Seriously, you deserve better. Go watch Trophy Wife. Or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Anything but Dads. (Well… almost anything. Friends shouldn't let friends watch the equally dire The Millers either.)

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.




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