Sunday, May 17, 2009

Most Insane Sitcom Premise Ever

Back in 1987, some network executives at NBC thought it might be amusing to do a show about two men, living together as parents. Obviously the makers of My Two Dads had to come up with a plausible explanation for how that could possibly happen. So they explained that the mom had been sleeping with two guys, got pregnant, didn't know who the father was, then died. Naturally, the the two guys moved in together. (It even has my favorite cliché!) Even back in 1987 (when I was Mormon), I thought it was completely nuts that this was considered a more palatable alternative to just having "my two dads" be gay.

I was thinking about this the other day, and about how this has got to be the most insane sitcom premise ever. Then I thought to myself, "Come on, the crazy premise is a key part of the sitcom formula. There have got to be plenty that are worse than that one." Let's see... identical cousins, whole families of monsters, prisoners-of-war that sneak out at night past their inept Nazi guards, a family adopts an alien that wants to eat their cat, beverly-hillbillies, Fantasy Island...

Yet, somehow, none of those can compete with "my two (straight) dads" when it comes to the sheer "Wha...? Why?" factor.

Of course that was a simpler time. I'm sure one of our modern "reality shows" can beat it.


Lorry said...

It's funny because I was just pondering over this very idea a couple days ago. I'm not sure why I thought of it, since I haven't actually seen the show in over a decade. It's probably because the title isn't very original, but it could also be a sign from the alien overlords. Not sure which.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Lorry!!!

I think this random tidbit came back to me because of a news item from this past week (another crucial interpreter getting fired from the military for being gay, while people are still claiming that torturing prisoners to get information was justified). It's summed up well on the Daily Show:

"So it was okay to waterboard a guy 80 times but God forbid the guy who could understand what that prick was saying has a boyfriend? Waterboarding may make a prisoner talk, but it ain't gonna make him talk English."

I realize this ridiculous sitcom premise can't be compared to torture, but hearing about the crazy extremes of anything, anything, anything is OK except "the gay" somehow made my associative memory pull up this.

Perhaps it was the same for you. ;^)

Rebecca said...

I saw that show in reruns as a teenager, and I was so unbelievably naive (raised in a very conservative town where I didn't know any adults - and certainly no parents - that were gay) that it never occurred to me that the premise would make more sense if they were gay.

But...duh. Seriously.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Rebecca!!!

I was a teenager when this came out, and in those days I watched so many stupid sitcoms that -- on my own -- I didn't notice anything odd about it.

My mom kind of clued me in by pointing out how weird it is that this woman was carrying on two relationships simultaneously (to the point where she didn't even know which was the father of her child, so she was having sex with them within days of one another), and everybody's OK with that -- it's not presented as any kind of smudge on everyone's loving memory of her. Then my Mom kind of hinted that that's kind of a bizarre way to try to make the (basically immoral) premise (two guys, raising a family together!) into something acceptable.

And I was thinking, "Hm, you're right, that's weird. Sheesh, why not just have them be gay? That would make more sense..."

B. Spinoza said...

Bosom Buddies is kind of weird too:

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey B. Spinoza!!!

I thought of that one too! I mean, they couldn't possibly find any apartment except one in a women's only building? So they had no choice but to dress up as women by night for years???

But that one has a plausible explanation. They secretly liked dressing up as women and wanted an excuse. ;^)

Volly said...

My personal non-fave is Love Sidney, which aired from 1981-1983 (at the dawn of the AIDS ironic...).

This was a show about a gay character who's unable to talk about the fact that he's gay, written by a bunch of people who were also afraid to write about people who are gay, produced by a bunch of people who were afraid they'd lose their fortunes and have to go back to doing real work if they were honest about the character's being gay. The show gave me a headache every time I tuned in; finally I just gave up.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Volly!!!

Wow, I've never seen that show. Yikes, it sounds awful!

Anonymous said...

TV in the '80s was just weird. Go back and watch any of it through your noughties eyes and see all sorts of things you didn't see before. :D

- wry

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Wry!!!

Very good point, and actually a fun idea. :D

But that one was so weird that I even noticed it back then! ;^)

Anonymous said...

The sitcom producers may have had in mind Les Comperes, a fairly good French comedy starring Gerard Depardieu and Pierre Richard. You could probably find a number of movies that successfully used ambiguous paternity is their premise.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Anonymous!!!

Hmm, that's interesting. I think it would be possible to write a reasonable story about ambiguous paternity (though I don't think the makers of "My Two Dads" succeeded). I'd be curious to see Les Comperes.