Monday, September 23, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Sixty-six - Better Off Ted: Season 1, Episode 4, "Racism is Over, Everybody!"

It really is such a shame that Better Off Ted didn't last longer than it did (one and a half seasons), as it had just the right amount of farcical cynicism to make me laugh out loud while still being pointed and poignant.

And, I know this is sacrilege to some folks, but I much prefer Portia de Rossi's performance of Veronica here than her role on Arrested Development as a Bluth.

The main issue in this episode is the fact that Lem (Malcolm Barrett)... and every other Black employee of Veridian Dynamics... are trapped in rooms, thoroughly dehydrated, and left in the dark as Veridian's new energy efficient motion sensors cannot see Black people. Literally. Veronica does her best to remind Ted (Jay Harrington) that it still sees Hispanics, Asians, Pacific-Islanders, and Jews, but, as usual, intentionally misses the point.

It's great to see Lem work through his social anxiety trying to confront the higher ups in corporate (Veronica included), even if his efforts to bring attention to the problem causes Veridian to kludge things up by first creating segregated facilities followed by an exponentially expensive solution that requires hiring White people to follow Black employees. Sure, their answer to that problem is to hire more Black employees instead of Hispanics, Asians, Pacific-Islanders, and/or Jews to fix it instead of the endless cycle they come up with... but, when you type it out like that, it seems just as Swiftian as it really is.

The side plot involves Ted first hating, then liking, then hating Linda's new/old boyfriend whom she instantly got back together with after Ted told her that they (Ted and Linda, I mean... not Linda and the Ex) couldn't be together the episode previous. It's a sweetly irrational Catch-22 and their on-again/mostly-off-again relationship was the stuff of Sam and Diane, and one of the primary reasons that I miss the series (they had great chemistry together... but so did everyone on the show).

Eventually, both plots resolve with the slow, romantic burn back on, as hinted by the longing looks both Ted and Linda give each other's retreating forms, and a return to the corporate status quo with the old motion detection system, finally letting everyone... no matter their skin color... slave away for their ever important corporate masters (who make at least three times what everyone else does).

Ah, not-so-subtle jabs at the inequities of multinational corporations, how you amuse and simultaneously sadden me.

As usual, the Veridian Dynamics fake commercial lampoons the main plot with intentional irony as the company pats itself on the back for its assumed diversty, despite the fact that most of their employee shots are of small groups of White people. I find these thirty second fauxmercials to often be the highlight of the episodes and work well to paint the mood of the show in all its Orwellian delusions.

Wait... Jonathan Swift and George Orwell? Two literary references in one post? I've got to wrap things up before I go too far and turn this into a dissertation.

Like I mentioned before, Better Off Ted was a delightfully funny, subversive show that reminds me of M*A*S*H without the laugh track or horrors of war to remind us of our humanity. Still, Ted, et al., manage to do it quite well... only with genetically engineered, glow in the dark squirrels (though, not in this episode). I just wish it had lasted longer, obviously.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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