Ah, the office holiday party - it's a delicate operation. After all, you know these people - in fact you probably spend one-third of your life with them - but do you really know them? Do you want to? If my experience is anything to go by, it's only sheer effort that's kept your opinions of how the boss really ought to run the company quiet. Ditto your feelings on your cube neighbour's BO, ugly baby or sloppy work.
And yet, every December the powers that be decide to round up this unruly group in a hall or hotel conference room, serve them drinks and expect them to get along without embarrassing themselves.
If it wasn't for television, it would be impossible.
Mrs. Garrison: Kids, I need to tell you something that you might find a little shocking: I'm gay.
Longtime fans of South Park know that Mr./Ms. Garrison is a mercurial sexual beast. S/he's now been both straight and gay as a man and as a woman, but the one constant that remains is that whatever her preference happens to be that week, she takes it very seriously.
(S02E07) I've said before that while Everybody Hates Chris doesn't stray too far from the sitcom template, it at least gives the genre its own funky twist, making it one of very few sitcoms I'll actually watch.
For example, have you ever noticed that when a person becomes class president on TV, they tend to wield more power than any class president in real life would have? Someone gets elected, and suddenly the whole school is changed. Chris actually believes he has this kind of power, but learns too late he can't keep all the promises he made while running (fall and winter vacations, book reports only for books based on movies, etc). Chris may be the first black president the school has ever had, but he's also the first president to be impeached.
I remember briefly receiving an allowance when I was growing up, but for the most part I never received any kind of weekly stipend from my parents, nor did I ever ask for one. It was pretty much understood when we were growing up that money had to go to more important things like food and shelter, and like Chris' father in last night's episode, on those rare occasions when I would ask for money I would get a speech from my father about all the free food and utilities I was able to enjoy on a daily basis without having to work at all.
Chris' father, in some ways, reminds me of my own father, but he's probably like anyone's father who worked more than one job to support a family. There's a great moment in the episode where Julius (Chris' father) is trying to squeeze the last little bit of toothpaste out of the tube. It's shown for about two seconds, but it illustrates how important it is for him to make money stretch as far as it can go. When Chris decides he wants a leather jacket like everyone else seems to have, his father lets him come to work with him. The work turns out to be much more difficult than Chris bargained for, but their night together adds a new dimension to their relationship. By the end of the episode Chris has a better understanding of who his father is and how hard he actually does work.
Last night's episode seemed more character driven and less reliant on "gags" than other episodes, and it also focused heavily on the financial situation of the family, which is what really draws me to the show. Too many sitcoms focus on affluent families, or people who live extravagantly without any visible means of support. Those shows aren't bad necessarily, but when I watch Everybody Hates Chris I feel a kind of empathy and camaraderie toward the characters I never felt, say, listening to Mr. Huxtable steer the ever-malleable Theo on the right track with some instantaneous words of wisdom. Chris is funny, not just because the writing and jokes are solid, but because the characters actually feel like real people.
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