Archive for the ‘Strangers with Candy’ Category

Who Wants Cake?

August 21, 2009

This week’s SLAT took on a Lynchian quality when Tom got pissed at his mom and Grace because Grace’s boyfriend, Jack helped fix something and Tom felt like his role as man of the house was usurped. Seriously, Grace and Jane Mancini looked completely terrified of him when they were cowering in the kitchen about the anger that had been building.

Does Tom have a history as a mass murderer the show hasn’t gone into? It just seemed waaaay too intense. Doostyn and I found it to be, hand’s down our favorite scene of this week’s show (word of day is slut, fyi), and Doostyn noted that it bore a striking resemblance to the classic Strangers with Candy scene in Who Wants Cake when Mr. Jellineck is listening to the audiotape for Retardation: A Celebration:

Hi. This is Wilford Brimley. Welcome to ‘Retardation: A Celebration.’ Now, hopefully with this book, I’m gonna dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it – nobody does. And they don’t run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with ‘em, don’t do it. Puts ‘em on edge. They might go into berserker mode, come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming, ‘No, no, no,’ – all they hear is, ‘Who wants cake?’ Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake. Well, that’s it for the celebration. I guess the most important thing to remember is, they’re just like you and me.

Various groups have pulled their advertising from SLAT for one reason or another: too much teen sex, gay characters, good taste, but I’m surprised that no one has objected to the horrific representation of people with Down Syndrome.

I guess SLAT is marginally better than Brenda Hampton’s last offering, 7th Heaven, which depicted everyone with Down Syndrome as an angel and preternaturally wise, but you know, not by much. I guess if Brenda wanted to open the eyes of the American public that people with DS can be enormous assholes just like everyone else, then mission accomplished, your last tv show thesis has been debunked.

What makes the SLAT scenario offensive is the sense that people are tolerating this extremely bad behavior because the character has Down Syndrome, or worse that that makes it somehow adorable or inherently hilarious. How completely condescending. The show also hasn’t really addressed why Tom is still living at home as an adult and doesn’t seem to work or really do anything other than exert his patriarchal control over the women in his life. I guess it doesn’t occur to Brenda to give this character a full life outside of his disability.

Which is, you know, completely surprising, given how fully fleshed out the rest of the SLAT crew is.

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