Glenn Garvin on The Goode Family, The New Cartoon Series From Mike Judge


Reason contributor Glenn Garvin, who moonlights as a TV critic and op-ed columnist for The Miami Herald, reviews the new Mike Judge series, The Goode Family, which debuted last night and sounds great. A snippet:

Set in a more-progressive-than-thou college town where shoppers at the supermarket gasp in horror if somebody arrives at the checkout counter without his own reusable grocery bag, The Goode Family mercilessly lampoons characters who conduct their lives by the watchword WWAGD, What Would Al Gore Do? They live in desperate fear of being caught in a political free-fire zone by the abrupt Orwellian shifts in progressive correct-think. Told the preferred term is no longer black or even African American but "people of color," Helen sputters: "Impossible! That's just colored people in reverse! And I know that's not right!"

Worse yet, Helen's friends have persuaded her to try to bond with her teenage daughter Bliss by taking her on a birth-control shopping expedition. ("My daughter and I held each other and cried with happiness as he measured her cervix," says one.) The rebellious Bliss instead joins a church abstinence group, pledging to keep her virginity until marriage. "Where did I go wrong?" sniffles the distraught Helen.

Though it will no doubt be labeled right-wing agitprop by some of its trashed targets, The Goode Family is not really conservative, but something closer to the barbed libertarianism of South Park. What the show is really mocking is groupthink conformity—some of the funniest bits in the opening episode concern the creepy sexual-abstinence group, where teenage girls "marry" their fathers.

But when ridiculing conformity these days in Hollywood, where late-night comics are afraid to tell Obama jokes, most of your targets will necessarily be left of center. And The Goode Family is fearless in firing at them. When Gerald, a college administrator, tells his boss his department needs more funding to improve the percentage of minority employees, the boss replies: "Or we could just fire three white guys. Everybody wins!"

How long do you think it will be before we hear a joke like that from Jay or Dave?

Whole review here.

More on The Goode Family.

Given his vast and vastly great body of work over the years (Beavis and Butt-head, Office Space, King of the Hill), can we give Mike Judge some sort of some of super-greatness award? Along with Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park, he's made the last couple of decades (and the next couple) liveable.

The starting point of it all, "Frog Baseball."

NEXT: Did the Drugs Make Them Do It?

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  1. Beavis and Butt-head were nothing but suck from beginning to end. They’re success made the 90’s sole-crushing depressing over the number of people you once respected that giggled their way through it week after week.

  2. And yes I did mean the 90’s crushed flat fish heh heh heh heh heh

  3. Damn, Warren. You suck.

  4. Nick,

    Was omitting Idiocracy an oversight, or do you deny its greatness?


    What Warty said.

  5. Lighten up, Franc…I mean Warren. Beavis & Butthead and Ren & Stimpy paved the way for South Park, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and others. Don’t you remember being stoned off your ass and watching Liquid Television?

  6. I learnt a lot from B & B. Like, if you meet someone from Seattle, they’re probably cool.

  7. Warren-

    Are you threatening me?

  8. I need TP for my BUNGHOLE

  9. Came here to shill for Idiocracy.

  10. Household Hint:

    You can also use a common sponge to soak up unwanted semen.

  11. I refused to let my teens watch B&B.

  12. I need TP for my BUNGHOLE

    I caught this episode by (delicious) accident a few weeks ago. It hadn’t lost any of its charm. (Is that the right word?)

  13. Welcome to CostCo. I love you.

  14. I really liked Office Space and Idiocracy, but Judd’s TV projects didn’t do it for me. B&B could be OK, but whenever I watched one of the seemingly innumerable King of the Hill shows I felt like doing what Homer did: hitting the TV and yelling “Stupid TV, be more funny!”

  15. About as funny as Congressman Waxman’s moustache. If this program did not exist it would be necessary for SNL to invent it.

  16. I surprised something this subversive got on a major network.

  17. I saw about the first 5 minutes last night. The only thing I thought was funny was that the son’s name was Ubuntu. Which, as a linux geek, made me laugh.

  18. Uh, John, it was on MTV. MTV prided itself on pushing “subversive” shit, as lame as that usually ended up being. Of course, as soon as a kid burned something down while chanting Beavis’ “FIRE FIRE FIRE”, they made Judge stop with Beavis’ pyro antics, showing that they fold faster than a cheap suit, but hey. At least they tried.

  19. Oh shit, were you referring to the Goode cartoon, John? My mistake.

  20. [While watching a video about some (literal) clown]

    “If I was a clown, I’d put on my suit, and go to parties, and smash the cake, and TAKE ALL THE PRESENTS!!!!”

    “That’s what you do anyway, dumb@ss!”

    “Yeah . . . but I’d be a clown!”

  21. I’m Secretary of State, brought to you by Carl’s Jr.

  22. Beavis & Butthead was great — when i was a teenager. My suspicion that it has not aged well is too strong for me to want to revisit it, though.

  23. Mike Judge is ridiculously overrated. B&B was pretty funny (but then again I was a metal-obsessed high school nerd at the time) and Office Space is deservedly a cult classic. But the rest of his oeuvre seems average at best. King of The Hill was an average sitcom with the occasional near hilarious moment while Idiocracy was an good idea that ended up being merely an ok movie. He may be better than your average hollywood hack, but not THAT much better.

  24. I saw it recently, Xeones, and I thought it aged pretty well. On the other hand, I might still be 12 years old mentally.

  25. I snickered once or twice. Generally speaking, though, I didn’t find it all that funny. Probably because, in a post reductio world, it’s very difficult to reach an absurdum point that isn’t just scary and sad. South Park does it, brilliantly. The Goode Family, not so much. I feel much the same way about King of the Hill, fwiw.

    South Park, however, remains hIlarious!

  26. Xeones, take some painkillers, have a few shots of Jaeger, a few Dogfish Head Raison D’etre’s, and you’ll find it ages just fine.

  27. Came here to express, although it can’t be expressed in human language, how bad Idiocracy sucked. Top to bottom, conception to execution. And I watched it as both a Mike Judge and Luke Wilson fan.

    Other than that, thumbs up for Mike Judge.

  28. Have to agree that I liked B&B and Office Space, but was never a fan of King of the Hill. Never saw Idiocracy – seemed like a good story, but definitely looked like a B movie at best…

  29. Beavis and Butthead was brilliant. “A marine can take anything!”, Fly away lesbian seagull, and all that.

    Re-post! The positive acting teens episode:

    Aged pretty well if you ask me.

  30. South Park, however, remains hIlarious!

    “How do they keep it so fresh after 54 episodes?”

  31. I approve of your idea, Epi, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Warty, it’s true, you’ve got the brain of a 12-year-old… and the lungs, heart, liver, and hands… in your fridge.

  32. The best part of Beavis & Butthead was never the main animated shorts, but the MST3K-style heckling of videos.

  33. None of the Judge oeuvre should be watched or critiqued unless high.

    His stuff wasn’t created for geeks who could pass a drug test at 2am .

  34. Dammit Pavement, try harder.

  35. a few Dogfish Head Raison D’etre’s,

    Eh, he said “head”

    “Washing the dog, washing the dog!”

  36. I’m intrigued to see other people describing this show as libertarian. I got that vibe while working on it, but I suspected I was cherry-picking the parts that reinforced my positions, and projecting on the rest, as I tend to do with media products with any vaguely individualist message hidden in the chaff. I’ll be sure to discuss the reception its politics are getting with all of the other libertarians I know in the industry, and his wife.

    Emboldened by the notion that it might not just be wishful thinking that make me think of this as a libertarian show, I’ll predict that it will be a hit with the reason-reading type. It has a very Marginal Revolution feel about it.

  37. From the previews, this new series, though, look likes it’s trying too hard.

    (which was the problem of half of Idiocracy; the other half, however, was brilliant)

  38. take some painkillers, have a few shots of Jaeger, a few Dogfish Head Raison D’etre’s,

    There’s another way to watch television?

  39. You can skip the Jaeger if you want.

  40. You can skip the Jaeger if you want.

    Yep. Cause Nyquil’s cheaper and taste exactly the same.

  41. “The best part of Beavis & Butthead was never the main animated shorts, but the MST3K-style heckling of videos.”

    Definitely. I dunno why anyone would bother buying the video-less DVD’s.

  42. Yep. Cause Nyquil’s cheaper and taste exactly the same.

    I have made Nyquiladas and watched B&B, so…guilty.

    I dunno why anyone would bother buying the video-less DVD’s.

    Are you serious? That’s the best part.

  43. “Impossible! That’s just colored people in reverse! And I know that’s not right!”

    That’s exactly how I see it. Plus, the phrase “people of color” has this really prissy, schoolmarmish quality to it that makes me cringe.

  44. That’s exactly how I see it. Plus, the phrase “people of color” has this really prissy, schoolmarmish quality to it that makes me cringe.

    Does white count as a color? Because I look like a sheet of paper.

    I had a friend that used to fuck with people by referring to herself as African-American. She was a jewish girl from South Africa, so she didn’t exactly fit the stereotype.

  45. Plus, the phrase “people of color” has this really prissy, schoolmarmish quality to it that makes me cringe.

    True dat. I wish we could just call any people blessed with melanin “Sun People” and whiteys “Ice People” and be done with it.

  46. I had a friend that used to fuck with people by referring to herself as African-American.

    Hey, i tell people i’m Native American. Which is true; i was born here.

  47. Unfortunately I give the pilot a 3 out of 10. Very KotH-ish in the interminable space between chuckles.

  48. One of my problems with most TV sitcoms is that the first episode might be funny, the second is stretching and the third is just old.

    So you can imagine how I feel about a whole season, or multiples thereof.

    South Park and the Simpsons are exceptions, though I confess I found the latter getting old a couple of seasons ago and haven’t watched it lately.

    And I don’t get cable (cheap bastard) so I’m about four years behind with South Park on DVDs from netflix.

  49. King of the Hill went on too long, but it had it’s moments, much of the humor was reserved for those who have lived in Texas at some point. Unless you have experienced that, you miss a lot of it.

  50. I thought the pilot was quite good, with a number of laugh-out-loud moments. I loved the public shaming in the “paper or plastic” scene; with everyone pointing and whispering, like something out of a mid-’60s soap opera with a woman wearing a skirt above the knee! Horrors! A pitch-perfect mockery of political correctness and “the personal is political.”

    Isaac, I have a somewhat contrary opinion: I think lots of shows, especially sitcoms, feel rather awkward and stilted in their pilots and early episodes, and of course the characters don’t yet have much depth. It usually seems to take a while for them to “jell.” The first episodes of Seinfeld, Simpsons, Cheers, and Big Bang Theory come to mind: nobody would put them among their best.

  51. Ow, my balls!

  52. PapayaSF

    You make a good point about a show “hitting its stride” as it were, but I often find this kind of heavy handed comedy gets stale rather quickly. After a while it’s not satire or even absurd, it’s just annoying.

  53. I hate to say it, but I don’t get the appeal of South Park.

    I did like B&B, however, and agree that the music video segments were the best parts.

  54. Man, lots of killjoys out today. By which I mean people who disagree with me.

    Goode Family: enjoyed it, hoping it gets even better. Ubuntu’s voice sounded strange some of the time. Some sound effects superfluous. Love the dog (Che) scenes, and I’m (mostly) vegetarian.

    B&B: great. Amazing. Hilarious. Videos and animated bits. Most clueless criticism: pointing out that the characters are stupid.

    Idiocracy: like it a lot. I’m sure it would have been even better if it had been fully funded, but I’m surprised by the number of (otherwise swell) people who don’t seem to appreciate the rich satire observable in almost every scene (especially the sets) and the many well thought out linguistic and cultural elements. I still find it enjoyable after several viewings.

    King of the Hill: Like it. Sometimes great. Helps that I’m from Texas. Never been a rabid fan, but that’s probably because it’s more low-key and mainstream than Judge’s other work.

    Office Space: loved it.

    For the record, I love some South Park episodes (e.g., “AWESOM-O”), like others, and think a few are throwaways. Feel like they’ve missed (or rejected) some opportunities with the recent economic inanity.

    Oh, and I’ve never been high while watching any of these. And I did graduate from colleges. And I do not have brain damage. Etc.

  55. go ‘way, ‘BATIN!

  56. Idiocracy is really good. Not just funny, but prophetic in some ways. Even if you HAVE seen it, you should watch this

    Judge for yourself, watch the movie. Only obamatards and total dicks think this movie is not good.

  57. As others have pointed out, if you didn’t find King of the Hill funny, it’s probably because you’ve never lived in Texas.

  58. I did not like the frog baseball short because I did not like seeing the frogs get hurt.

  59. Matt and Trey (of South Park) are satirists on a par with Swift. Mike Judge, with the unfortunate misstep of Idiocracy, is not far behind.

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