The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'The Goode Family': Can a TV show bash tree huggers -- and survive?

May 26, 2009 |  2:03 pm

The_Goode_Family_cast It's become something of an article of faith in the conservative world that the media are liberal and only interested in promoting liberal ideas and causes. So what do you do if you're a loyal conservative when a big titan of liberalism like ABC (owned by the gay-friendly Disney media conglomerate and home to the obviously left-leaning George Stephanopoulos) is about to premiere (this Wednesday at 9 p.m.) a wickedly funny new Mike Judge-created show, "The Goode Family," that mocks a family of do-gooders, including a wife who wears a "Meat Is Murder" T-shirt, a daughter who's named Bliss and a dog who is a vegan?

It's pretty clear that Judge is taking clear aim on the excesses of save-the-planet types, having said recently, of the characters he created: "Oh yeah, I know these people. They're everywhere, hanging out at Whole Foods .. .forever feeling guilty about being a human being" (see video below).

Do you embrace the show, since Lord knows, after David Zucker's hapless "An American Carol," you should be wrapping your arms around anything from a conservative bent that is actually, well, funny? Or do you prepare yourself for failure, hinting darkly that any show being produced by a bastion of liberal media wouldn't receive a fair airing? In other words, assume the worst -- surely ABC must be doing whatever it can behind the scenes to ensure that its own new show is doomed to failure. I'd say that the conservative reaction to "The Goode Family's" prospects offers an intriguing insight into the conspiratorial, vaguely pessimistic mind-set that has overwhelmed the right as it attempts to cope with the popularity of Obama-style optimism currently captivating most of the country.  

First we have the New York Post's Kyle Smith pronouncing on his blog: "I doubt ABC has the guts to keep this show on the air very long. I'm guessing they won't promote it, no one will watch it and then they'll say, 'Whoops! No one is in the mood to mock liberals these days. Our bad.' I give it a month."

At the Bruin Standard, Kelly Bowers isn't holding his breath either, saying with concern: "Will the show pull punches to appease the status quo of studio executives? An obvious worry. 'The Man' often puts a stop to themes he doesn't like in TV shows.... If Fox can tell the nearly revered Joss Whedon to turn his dark captain Malcolm Reynolds into more of a clown for 'Firefly,' NBC can probably tell Judge to stop making hippies cry (assuming that is even possible)."

For years, it was liberals who were expert in the art of self loathing, but the disease seems to have taken firm root in the conservative movement. Faced with the prospect of a well-made TV show that skewers the delicate sensibilities of ditzy do-gooders, the right-leaning cultural critics should be full of exultation. Instead, they're already sulking in their tents. You'd think conservatives would be eager for a good laugh, but the whole movement seems to have permanently misplaced their sense of humor.

Here are some excerpts, along with commentary from Mike Judge: