Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

Last month saw the launch of The Goode Family (ABC), an animated series featuring a heinously liberal, vegan, environmentally conscious suburban family doing their utmost to embody green, PC, cruelty-free living. The show is the latest offspring of the of Mike Judge, creator of Office Space, King of the Hill and of course, the living nightmare of the parents of 1990s teenagers, Beavis and Butthead. The Goode Family, though widely publicized and anticipated at its onset, might be on ABC’s chopping block due to sagging ratings a mere four weeks into the series. 

Judge’s timing seemingly couldn’t have been more perfect. Several years ago, in the wake of Bush’s neoconservative, “family values” reign, it was only too perfect to lampoon the down-home duh of King of the Hill's Hank Hill, his family and his gaggle of good ole’ boys. 

These days, with a lefty-lite President in the White House and our collective heads finally snapping to attention as to the near-catastrophic mess we’ve made of our planet, a series like The Goode Family was only a matter of time. 

The Goodes are so “green” it hurts. Their hybrid features a bumper sticker with the family’s slogan, “What Would Al Gore Do?,” their front yard is filled with an organic garden and they are helpless to resist any new product, ethos or lifestyle tweak that shrink their carbon footprint and gain environmentalista points. Thematically, the it-factor was perfectly rendered. Nevertheless, the flagging ratings suggest that in the eyes of viewers, maybe The Goode Family just isn’t any, well, good. 

So, what’s the problem? The show itself started a little rough; the jokes a bit too reaching. To illustrate, the family buzzes past a WalMart-esque big box store and decides against shopping there (“We can’t shop there; they don’t even have a mission statement!). And the tedious back-and-forth with their African-American neighbour (“What do we call them now? Black? Afro-American? What do we call Obama?”) was awkward and crossed the paper-thin line from parody to derogatory.

Perhaps we aren’t getting the joke. Could it be we’re not ready to laugh at ourselves? As much I hate to admit it, I could see a bit of my own past, misdirected flailings at toeing the progressive line illustrated in the show. A joke is rarely just a joke; the smarter comics always know how to lob a dig to elucidate broader social commentary. 

Be it bad TV or network television poking us where it hurts, The Goode Family’s day in the sun is likely setting.  Good riddance or time to picket, readers? What do you think?

Photo Credit: ABC/Goode Family Productions, LLC.