You know something’s wrong when I am siding with the Salt Lake City Tribune against Jonah Hill. The worlds gone topsy turvy, my Friends. But a new cartoon show on Fox, produced by and starring Mr. Hill has made me do it. When I saw the headline of the papers article,”Fox’s Allen Gregory is an abomination,” I expected the writers to be a Christian Fundie. Instead we both agree that “this is the most homophobic thing on network TV right now.‘’
In the premiere episode of “Allen Gregory,” the unlikely and unlikeable protagonist, a very cosmopolitan, by which I mean pretentious, 7 year old is being raised by a gay father and his larger, butcher, prettier life partner, Jeremy. The episode begins with Allen Gregory, a Golden child replica of his daddy, winning a Tony award. He and his Dad use the social occasion to patronize and embarrass his adopted Cambodian daughter/sister Julie, a character who becomes instantly sympathetic with their bad treatment of her. Thus we are introduced to the world of the show.
There are still states that don’t allow gay adoption, I say it is therefore too early to be joking about gay parents treating their adopted children badly on TV. We have had all of one example so far to distinguish ourselves before we are being knocked down. Modern Family does it right; the Gay Dads aren’t perfect people or parents, but they clearly love their daughter Lily. In “Allen Gregory” the treatment of the father towards his adopted Cambodian daughter is downright offensive.
The only good parenting exhibited in the show comes from the father’s lifepartner, Jeremy, and he admits in the first episode that he isn’t actually Gay and has been coerced into his relationship by the sheer will of the Dad. Great so the one nice guy is straight. Awesome. Could this show get any lamer? Oh wait, it’s not even funny. As the writer from Utah mentions, the big joke the first episode revolves around is the seven year old’s attraction to his older and overweight principal, and his subsequent crapping his pants when she rejects him. Hilarious. Not. I loved Superbad and all but Mr. Hill just lost a lot of respect in my book.
We learn so much from watching television, enough episodes of “ER” and “House” will make anyone think they’re a doctor, or at least know a little more about medicine. I am worried that even though the show is a tongue and cheek send-up of coastal urban culture, it will lead people to think they know something about the types of people the show portrays. I get the feeling it’s a dig at the power gays who work behind the scenes in Hollywood; there’s a more LA feel to the characters than New York a lot of, “let my people call your people attitude.” The kid eats sushi with Pinot Grigio at lunch. I have no love lost for the wheelin’ and dealin’ power-suiters of my adopted hometown but so far the queerspawn on TV have been Lea Michele’s Goody-goody on Glee and then this kid. There are so few examples in popular culture of gay parenting that everything put out there helps to define the evolving image of our families. We aren’t doing great.
On one hand there are more gay characters and themes on television than ever before and Fox is actually leading the network pack. On the other hand some of those characters, in particular the father on this new show are not doing our community justice. I was especially upset when I read an interview given by the actor who voices the father in which he, a straight man, said he’d looked forward to taking the part because he had lived in West Hollywood for many years and felt part of the community. And this is how you repay us? (insert Jewish Mother accent and guilt here)
I wonder if the flaws of this show aren’t a result of people outside the community overstepping their liberties in lambasting it. The ole’ I can talk about my mama but you can’t complaint. There is such a thing as feeling overly comfortable. I will give you a domestic example. My best friend came over this weekend and in the process of working on a Halloween costume, trashed my room. Despite multiple vacuum attempts, my carpet is littered with glitter. She felt far too at home. She clearly did not concern herself with possible consequences and hurt feelings.
I think this might be what happened to Jonah Hill. I am guessing that he thinks of himself as an open minded and tolerant type. I’d bet he has gay friends and maybe with their encouragement even he felt comfortable creating a character like the Dad on Allen Gregory. Far too comfortable by my mind. I don’t care if he had a whole chorus of Gay Boys whispering in his ears the whole time,“this is SO true, there are men just like this everywhere, hahahahaha….” I don’t care if the head writer is gay and has three kids himself. The show is no good.