Welcome back to my riveting analysis on how Uncle Phil and Officer Carl Winslow saved America. I would have finished all of it in one post but baseball started. Then I fell behind on Games of Thrones. Then Betty Draper got fuckin huge! That third one really threw me off my game. But we’ll deal with that in another post. We have more important things to discuss right now. But seriously, she got faaaaaaaat.
The next key to creating a white-folk-friendly TV dad is by making sure he isn’t at all unpredictable. Enter the straight man.
Normally the straight man in any show is there to act as the foil for the wacky main character. You know he’s not going to do anything unexpected. Less unexpected = Less scary. But here’s the rub. The straight man isn’t always the most level headed guy. He can take only so much wackiness before he gets pissed and needs to choke that annoying little bastard out. We could be teetering on the White Fear Line. That’s going to be a problem. The last thing we need is a scary minority committing an act of violence on our wholesome family show. You can save that shit for The Wire.
We need a way to keep our guy in check. Solution: Let’s give him a heart condition. Those test really well apparently. Google it. Our husky friends Carl and Phil would be dead inside of thirty seconds if they decided to get too angry. Kinda like a reverse Hulk. Threat neutralizedAmerica. But curbing violence isn’t always enough. We also need to make sure our strong role models are sufficiently emasculated in their own homes. For that we need the sassy wife. Her snappy one-liners are just the thing to keep our dad in check. Everybody knows who really wears the pants in this family. (insert studio audience WOOOO!) Fresh Prince went through a couple of wives before reaching the optimal level of sassification.
Now our boys are non-threatening physically and sexually. We’re almost ready for pilot season folks. But despite all of this working against them, I remember Carl and Uncle Phil being really strong characters. And even though I’m taking shots at them, they helped mold me into the underachieving slacker I am today. These guys were the glue holding their families together. Well played show writers. Keep that up and one day you may write for Full House.
We’re just one step away from going on the air with our wholesome, non-scary Dads. Now it’s time to choose our actors. They wouldn’t have to look too far to find their Carl Winslow. Casting session #2 for Family Matters:
Guy #1: Look, we’ve been in here for an hour and it’s been twenty minutes since my last bump. Just pick somebody.
Guy #2: We can’t just pick randomly! We gotta get this right or they might fire us.
Guy#1: Well how about this guy, he was in Die Hard and he played a cop! He has range!
Guy#2: You’re on fire today! Snort that shit right now!
When I was a kid, I honestly thought that Carl Winslow starred in Die Hard. I was a little slow. Sidebar: Am I the only one that never saw Moonlighting? I always hear that Bruce Willis was supposed to be good in that. I feel like I missed out there. Before my time maybe. Either way, Reginald VelJohnson is our first post-Cosby role model. He also played a cop in Ghostbusters. Sonofbitch! He was a cop in Turner and Hooch too. Like I said, the man has range. Casting Uncle Phil may have proved a tougher nut to crack. But I don’t want to type out another conversation because I just had lunch and I’m very sleepy. I’m sure it would have involved him being the voice of Shredder on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the cartoon. That’s right. Shredder was black. And that’s rad. I found that little tidbit out about a year ago and it completely destroyed my reality.
So there you have it. That’s exactly how TV layed the groundwork for the Dads that fixed racism in Murica. Now go live in harmony. I feel a nap coming on.