by DICK CHENEY
Life in Pieces
creator Justin Adler
As part of an initiative to show non-gaming programming, streaming service Twitch.tv has been running a marathon of Bob Ross’ PBS show The Joy of Painting. Bob’s only significant problem in life was his hair. He had it permed into an uncomfortable afro to save money on haircuts. It smelled like a zinc lozenge and was a somewhat painful style to adopt. This is what we properly mean when we use the loaded phrase “white people’s problems” or WPP.
Ross built a multimillion dollar empire around his mediocre landscapes. Then he died from lymphoma at the age of 52. Jen (Zoe Lister-Jones) has a baby when the CBS comedy Life in Pieces begins, and the remainder of the episode is spent with her emphasizing what a mess her vagina is in after childbirth.
Well, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with how a woman’s vagina looks after childbirth, and maybe some white people stigmatizing it and pushing womyn to have more dangerous surgeries to avoid vaginal birth is about as good for the public health as the anti-vaccine movement.
The only positive thing to come out of Life in Pieces is gainful employment for Dianne Wiest, who recently revealed that she had not saved a whole lot of money during her career. She is horrid as the mother of two boys, Greg (Colin Hanks) and Matt (Thomas Sadowski) and a daughter Heather (Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt). These are the kinds of names people give their children when they haven’t read a book since high school.
As disgusting and racist as Modern Family was at times (I speak of it in the past tense in order to pretend it no longer exists), Life in Pieces is substantially worse. There is only one person of color in the entire cast, and he plays the stalker-y ex-husband of Matt’s girlfriend Colleen. To add insult to substantial injury, he is portrayed by Jordan Peele, suggesting that the reason we are not getting a new season of Key & Peele is because Jordan had to spread his wings in the role of a psychotic single black male.
Then there is the greatest indignity of all: playing the father of these magical white power cherubs is James Brolin. Acting was never Mr. Brolin’s forte; satisfying Barbra Streisand sexually is, and is a job he does with perfect rigor and aplomb. By no means should he ever have been employed as a working actor. In the pilot of Life in Pieces, he stages his own funeral so he can find out what people would say about him. As bad as that sounds, there was one storyline this creepy show did that consisted entirely of a character having diarrhea.
Then again, at least that is a issue with which individuals of all races and colors can identify. Other storylines take the men of Life in Pieces out to the golf course, murdering innocent skunks and shopping for an expensive college for their children. The idea of being upset because your son is going to a university is something Bob Ross could never understand.
It is not okay to pretend that being white and ignorant is some kind of blessing from the universe to focus on jokes about bowel movements or handicaps. I thought we were past all that. Watching Amy Schumer’s stand-up special at the Apollo, she barely mentioned where she was once, although she did make sure to hammer home that she doesn’t “follow the news” and that she did not know what happened in Ferguson. White people were supposed to be improving, not becoming stupider.
I mean, All in the Family was a long time ago. Shows were able to explore timely issues of race and class and still be popular. Life in Pieces feels like it was created in a massive white bubble where the only thing that ever gets in is occasionally Jordan Peele. It is a revolting, regressive show, and all of the hateful curses I direct towards Johnny Galecki on a regular basis will now be focused on this disgusting mess.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.
“Birth of Lola” – Laurie Anderson (mp3)
“Tell All the Animals” – Laurie Anderson (mp3)