5 Surprisingly Deep Scenes In Goofball Comedies
Using comedy to examine serious issues certainly isn't anything new. But sometimes, unflinchingly ridiculous characters can quietly slip in some legitimate life-building advice without even breaking their surface-level slapstick, and it can require a second look to realize it happened. Did that cartoon idiot accidentally make some transcendent philosophical point? Indeed! Like how ...
Homer Simpson Has The Best Outlook On Risk
Season 9 of The Simpsons is on the later end of the consensus on "classic" seasons, but if you're looking for episodes to rewatch, it nicely bridges the gap between the older, more grounded episodes and the frantic, fantastical approach the show eventually transitioned to. And it's not without its sprinkled-in touching moments. In the episode "Lost Our Lisa," Lisa coaxes permission from Homer to take the bus into the city by herself to check out a museum exhibit. She ends up getting lost and stuck in an incredibly dangerous situation, and Homer has to risk his life in an extremely slapsticky fashion to come rescue her.
While they're driving off, Lisa laments, "I'll never take another stupid risk like that again." This prompts Homer to pull the car over and offer his backwardly meaningful philosophy: "Don't ever say that! Stupid risks are what make life worth living."
Strong words from a guy whose views on risk twice sent him plummeting down a gorge.
Sure, over the years, Homer's been a wealth of not-exactly-inspiring aphorisms. ("You tried your best, and you failed. The lesson here is: Never try.") But his affinity for stupid risks not only provides insight into how he remains perfectly content despite a life of near-constant setbacks and frustration, but it's also not a bad reminder to not get so bogged down in bad results that you never try anything. In Lisa's case, everything went as haywire as possible, and she'll still end up getting an incredible story out of it. Using one drawback as an excuse to forego risk for an entire lifetime is no way to live.
Homer goes on to ask "Is your heart going a mile a minute? That's what my heart's doing all the time! Bet your left arm's tingling too!" So take the rest of his advice with a grain of salt.
Arrested Development Has The Best Take On Your (Worst) Family
Any time you ever feel like you're watching too many comedies without laughing and start to question your own jadedness, there's no better instant palate cleanser than the first season of Arrested Development, which to this day boasts the most mathematically impossible jokes-per-second ratio ever committed to DVD.
Most sitcoms make sure to circle back to touching, emotional moments to keep you on the characters' sides and redeem even the wackiest characters from being total monsters. Arrested Development is not one of those shows. The Bluths are relentlessly, unapologetically selfish and cowardly, and never have any moments of self-reflection or sudden gushing Ebenezer Scrooge epiphanies. But in the Season 1 finale, "Let 'Em Eat Cake," when Michael has reached his last nerve with his hapless relatives and excitedly tells his son to pack his bags so they can move ANYWHERE else, George Michael replies, "Well, Dad ... I like it here ... It's because of the family. I like the family. I mean, if we leave, who's gonna take care of these people?"
George Michael's compassionate innocence is such an unexpected thunderbolt in that moment, and it'll resonate with viewers of all persuasions. Your family is your family, and will be forever, even if they're bloodsucking ghouls who stab each other in the back and frame their own twin brothers for treason (figuratively speaking, in most cases). It's not a sappy moment, and it's not some stock redemptive moment from every other sitcom, because the show almost never has these moments. That family remains just as repulsive as it was when it drove Michael to want to escape them, and still they can't bear to not be in each others' lives.
Michael then finds out that his father has been hospitalized for a heart attack, which makes him regret the things he said about his family ... for about an hour, until it turns out George Bluth faked the heart attack, and then escapes the hospital and runs out on all of them (and the federal government). So really, how mad are you at your family?
Bobby Hill Has The Best Super Simple Message Of Body Positivity
King Of The Hill is a fantastic show with a ton of episodes (259 over 13 seasons!) that didn't get quite as much gushing praise in its day as you might expect for something from Mike Judge (Beavis And Butt-Head, Office Space, Silicon Valley) and Greg Daniels (The Simpsons, The Office). But it's a treasure trove of ultra-watchable "just throw it on whenever" gems with really vibrant storylines and A+ jokes.
Bobby Hill, the lone child of Peggy and Hank Hill, is a deceptively fascinating character. He often makes extremely stupid decisions, but he's also compassionate and vulnerable in a way that often throws off Hank and Peggy, even in their efforts to be supportive of him.
In the Season 4 episode "Transnational Amusements Presents: Peggy's Magic Sex Feet," when Peggy is obsessing over her unusually large feet, Bobby takes her side with a rousing bit of body positivity. He proclaims: "Mom, I'm fat. But big deal. I don't feel bad about it, and you never made me feel bad about it. And just because there are people out there who want me to feel bad about it doesn't mean I have to. So Bobby Hill's fat. He's also funny, he's nice, he's got a lot of friends, a girlfriend. And if you don't mind, I think I'll go outside right now and squirt her with water. What are you going to do?"
It's simultaneously profound yet emotionally believable for a vulnerable, well-meaning child to help his idol during her own moment of vulnerability. Who couldn't use a Bobby pep talk every now and then?
BoJack Horseman Has The Best Rule Of Thumb For Relationships
BoJack Horseman isn't a straight-up goofy comedy, in the sense that it frequently deep dives into subjects like depression, drug addiction, and loveless marriages. But it is also a show about talking Hollywood animals, so it's not not a goofy comedy. So if you're looking for wall-to-wall A+ jokes, great art direction, and a healthy sense of creeping dread over the human condition, look no further than BoJack Season 2 (and all the other ones).
As yet another of BoJack's failed romantic relationships comes to a close, he tells his girlfriend Wanda that people are usually driven off once they get to know the real him. Wanda, suddenly realizing how many obvious signs she's overlooked in the hopes of making the relationship work, exclaims, "You know, it's funny. When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags."
It's a deeply digestible quote in that direct context -- wanting to be in love with someone so much that you excuse highly questionable behavior -- but it also has a far more universal application. It may sound defeatist, but it's just straight-up good advice to remind people not to overly lionize politicians or celebrities or our comedy heroes, or really anyone. It doesn't necessarily mean to enter into every human relationship with unflinching cynicism, but making sure to not overlook the fact that everyone is highly fallible and imperfect certainly equips us to not be blindsided by it.
Pretty standard talking animated horse show advice, really.
The Far Side Comic That Perfectly Sums Up Every Job You'll Ever Have
Gary Larson's single-panel comic The Far Side, which ran in newspapers from 1980 to 1995, remains one of the most under-discussed influences on contemporary comedy. It was light years ahead of so many of its antiseptic newspaper contemporaries from an "actually funny" perspective, and holds up shockingly well today. Though Larson's retirement in 1995 and subsequent vigilance about keeping his content off the internet has kept the strip from having a much-deserved viral second life.
One Far Side comic in particular has wedged itself in the back of my brain for my entire adult life, and I've thought about it probably once a week at every job I've ever had. It's so simple, but sums up human existence in one panel more accurately than most novels could ever dream of:
A professional zookeeper, who's been at this job for presumably many years, finally admits that he hates animals, the sole focus of his professional life. Why is he doing this job? Was he forced into it by financial circumstances? Did he develop the hatred for animals only after taking the job? Why does he hate animals? Does he even know? Does he even plan on quitting? It sure doesn't sound like it.
The fact is, none of these things matter. Because this man, at this time, has found himself in a position where the entire purpose of his life is dedicated to something that, in that moment, offers him no joy. And he doesn't seem that bothered by it; he's just resigned to his fate, as if his animal-hating is some small side detail, and he's gonna keep grinding through, because that's what everyone does. Deriving any degree of happiness or professional satisfaction from his job is entirely secondary.
Also, the straight-facing incredibly bored expressions of the animals kills me every time. Every organism in this panel absolutely could not care less about anything.
For more, check out The 3 Worst Lessons Hiding In Children's Movies - After Hours:
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