Thursday, December 10, 2015
This is a follow-up to my original post about Jews on tv- http://knowitallinnj.blogspot.com/2015/06/ambig-jew-ity.html. The search function on my blog isn't working, at least with Firefox, so I don't know if it's working for anyone.
The holiday season is upon us yet again, so before all the big hiatuses on TV, we have the "holiday episodes". Sometimes they end with Thanksgiving, sometimes we get a little bit of Christmas. I don't know if we've ever gotten Hanukkah, except that little snippet once with Friends and the Hanukkah Armadillo.
B and I don't watch The Goldbergs, like I've said before, because it isn't funny. However, last night, it was their Super Hanukkah episode, so we gave it a whirl. It was on when we sat down to veg for the night. Then later on, just by coincidence, we watched an episode of Fresh Off the Boat, which centers around a Chinese family and is hilarious. I finally realized the difference- why one is funny and the other isn't. It's not because we're Jews and we can't take a joke. It's because the stereotypes that they play off of in The Goldbergs are the nasty stereotypes that people use as serious insults. Any time I've caught this show there has been a line with Jeff Garlin not wanting to spend any money. So, basically, it's the whole Jews are cheap routine. And since it's Jeff Garlin and he is the lone Jew playing a Jew, besides the George Segal, it's ok.
Outside of George Segal and Jeff Garlin, this is the most gentile-washed Jewish family of all. And while I'm sure Wendy McClendon-Covey is funny as herself or in other things, she doesn't fly with me at all a Jewish mother. I know the show is supposed to be over the top but her character is ridiculous. The mother should've been more Fran Fine. Sylvia Buchman. Even Marie Barone could've been a better Jewish mother. She basically was, except, of course, for being/playing Italian. Christina Pickles most likely isn't Jewish with that name, but she played a kick-ass Jewish mother as Judy Gellar on Friends. If they wanted to play into stereotypes, they would've done a more New York Jewish thing. More Brooklynese and Yiddish thrown in. I know this show is based off a guy that grew up in Jenkintown, PA. But it's only said to be "loosely based" on his life. If they were going to just run with all things Jewish stereotypes, then just commit!
I can definitely take a joke. I love Jewish comedians and I can goof on Jewish stereotypes as well as the next. I even do a great Brooklynese mother/grandmother imitation on command. But this crap just isn't funny.
I don't really even know too many Chinese stereotypes, but their stereotypes seem to be able to be spun as positive. On Fresh Off the Boat, Jessica is hard on her kids, but it makes them successful. She can be cold, but in the end she shows her love. Her heart is always in the right place. She's a little bit Archie Bunker, but the offenses she makes to get to the lesson are more endearing than a sticking point as to why people could hate Chinese people. Jessica is sort of over the top but somehow she manages to be funny and not a total caricature.
I think I'm back on this kick because Girlfriends Guide to Divorce is back on and every time I see that Super Gentile brother of Abby's, I get annoyed at that casting. Watching The Goldbergs last night, I just sat there not laughing, then cracking up at Fresh Off the Boat. It made the differences glaringly obvious. I guess I'll just keep watching Louis, Jessica, Eddie, Emery, and Evan. And laughing.