I’ve been watching this cartoon an awful lot lately. The first episode I ever saw was the pilot, and I hated it. It was hideously disorganized. I ignored it on Netflix until about a year later, when I decided to give it another chance. I was glad I did; even though the show certainly had a lot of evolving to do before it could even begin to compete with the likes of Family Guy (which I might add is passed its prime), it’s certainly lived up to the public’s expectations. I feel as though it’s actually a somewhat progressive show. That is, it employs a type of humor that other cartoons haven’t really experimented with. It’s filled with nuances that someone with a watchful eye for satire can appreciate. And that of course, is considering that their viewers are the same type of people that appreciate the subtle social and political commentary the Simpsons tends to put into their episodes.
The best episode I’ve seen so far is S03: E08: The Unbearable Like-Likeness of Gene. There are already mountains of sites that can give you an in depth plot line, and better yet, you should just watch it for yourself. But here’s a short synopsis. There’s an impossibly annoying girl at Gene’s school who develops a crush on him. Gene tries to get out of this forced relationship, but first finds out her father is a jingle writer for commercials and, being in the music business, has access to some pretty sweet studio equipment. Stuff like this:
This here looks like a hospital machine of some sort, but it’s actually a Music Production Controller. It’s a very high priced switchboard used for sampling and recording and is generally only seen in recording studios. Gene is not a ‘real musician’ by any stretch of the imagination. His idea of a new composition consists of making fart noises with his keyboard and other electronics. In other words, he’s no up-and-coming Elton John. He doesn’t actually play anything, but he does have an interest in instruments nonetheless. So when he meets someone who has a whole studio full of them, it makes sense he wants access to that for as long as he can. But for that, he has to continue dating this annoying chick.
Well, maybe he’s an up-and-coming Weird Al.
He rationalizes it, saying he could tolerate Courtney if he didn’t have to see or hear her. This inspires him to write lyrics to a “remix” he calls “Silent Love”. The lyrics go something like this:
“When I close my eyes and cover my ears, it’s like you’re not even here. It’s a silent love.”
How insensitively insulting. That’s as though you’re telling them you wish you didn’t have to interact with them. The girl however, is too dense to realize it’s not a compliment.
More dense is that Gene believes this song will get him a record deal through Doug (who, again, writes jingles and is not a record producer…actually Bob points that out). But things go wrong while he’s playing the song at Courtney’s birthday party when she becomes so annoying he can’t help but yell at her. Since Courtney has a congenital heart condition, she has an episode resembling a heart attack and has to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The doc stabilizes her, but all the other kids now hate Gene and Courtney breaks up with him. This means no more recording studio for Gene, and Doug wants nothing to do with him. Actually Gene asked “Does this mean I can’t go to gear heaven anymore?” to which Doug responds “Not a chance in gear hell.”
This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that six months later, Gene sees his own lyrics appear in a commercial for a business called “Silent Muffler“. It would appear Doug stole his lyrics and used them for his next commercial jingle. Tough break. Doug probably made a hefty creative fee off the song and will likely collect residuals or royalties on the content for years to come. And nobody will ever believe some bumbling kid if he ever claims that his work was stolen. It would just be the kid’s word against that of a successful songwriter.
Of course, one could speculate this wasn’t the first time this guy stole some poor kid’s work and profited off it. Maybe he sees any “friend” Courtney invites over as a potential uncredited ghost writer for his next jingle. That’d be unbelievably menacing, but stranger things have happened in the music business.
The ironic misfortune here was that Gene’s unpleasant experience with this girl manifested in a commercial jingle that only the girl’s father was able to make money off of. And because she was clearly pretty spoiled, that meant more stuff for her.
Side splitting, if I do say so.
And that’s what makes this show so good. The perfect use of irony. It utilizes irony in a manner that Family Guy can’t do without an at times irritating over use of “cutaway sequences”. I get the feeling this show is going to become the future of cartoon sitcoms.