Last night marked the gala premiere of ABC's new comedy series, Cavemen. I know what you're thinking: "A 30-minute-long sitcom based on a commercial for car insurance? That sounds great in theory, but I've already seen Encino Man. I need another comedy about a thawed-out caveman trying to make sense of the modern world like a mime needs a megaphone."
Let me assure you right off the bat that Cavemen is nothing like Encino Man at all. For starters, Encino Man was about a single caveman who was thawed out in the modern world. Cavemen follows a slightly different premise. Executive producer Joe Lawson explains:
"Our concept is that there are only about 2,000 of them. They've always been in the background. While they're a minority, their lives are like everyone else's."
So what we're looking at here in a nutshell is a TV show about an alternate reality where cavemen are... what, like an ethnic minority or something? ABC's got the answer to that one, and it sounds like a resounding "yes" according to this press release:
"Cavemen is a unique buddy comedy that offers a clever twist on stereotypes and turns race relations on their head."
You're probably wondering how a sitcom about cavemen "turns race relations on their head." Maybe a quick view of this ABC trailer will spell it out for you:
Seem a little heavy-headed? You must be imagining things:
"There's a lot of assumptions about who they are and what they represent. It has nothing to do with race; that's silly," says executive producer Joe Lawson.
Now I'm just confused. Did I watch a thinly-veiled sitcom about black people last night, or was it just your average it's-funny-when-cavemen-wear-glasses comedy routine?
Here's a quick and dirty list of some of the "wacky" things that cavemen did in last night's season premiere:
Do you understand why this is funny? You probably do by now, but just to be safe I'm going to let the actor who plays the show's main character (Bill English) explain it:
"... the issues we deal with as cavemen are the same that people of all races deal with... There are lots of opportunities for humor. You can put these guys in any situation. Doing the Electric Slide. In a grocery store. At the beach."
It's funny because they're cavemen! Get it now?! Ha ha ha!
If you add all the pieces together, the people who made this show are saying that Cavemen is a sitcom that turns race relations on its head - while having nothing to do with race - by showing cavemen dealing with stuff that "all races" can relate to. Oh - and it's funny because they're cavemen.
That pretty much sums up Cavemen's biggest problem - it's a show that pretends to be social commentary while putting funny clothes on cavemen for 99% of its laughs. You want to throw some social commentary into my comedy? Go ahead, but make sure there's more than one shitty joke in there, too.