‘Dads’ explodes with racist, stale humorPosted on September 17, 2013 | by Ife Olujobi
Everyone thinks that their own family is the worst, but Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi try to convince you that theirs are truly worse than yours in Fox’s new sitcom “Dads.”
“Dads” centers on two best friends and business partners who have horrible fathers. Green stars as Eli, the scruffy, plaid-sweatshirt-and-graphic-tee wearing half of the leading duo. Ribisi is Warner, a mild-mannered, somewhat-wimpy husband and father of two children.
Warner and Eli are two fairly successful video game developers who have their own office and an assistant, Veronica (Brenda Song). Warner’s father Crawford (Martin Mull) lives with his son and is a nuisance whose behavior continues because Warner is too afraid to confront him. Eli, on the other hand, lives the life of a bachelor, complete with a pingpong table in his living room and a girlfriend who is a foot taller than him, looks like a model and delivers a total of two lines of dialogue in the episode. When Eli’s dad (Peter Riegert) comes to visit for Eli’s surprise birthday party, the two game developers must suffer together as their fathers intrude on their lives.
In an early scene, Warner and Eli have a “bad-dad showdown” to clue the audience into how horrible, obnoxious and cheap their fathers are. Bad-dad stories are strewn throughout the episode, some jokes landing better than others, and if not for the laugh track it might be difficult to separate the funny stories from the serious ones because Green and Ribisi deliver them in the same tone. The show spends so much time reaching for laughs that when it attempts to switch tones, it doesn’t translate.
Even the comedy often fails to connect. “Dads” operates on stereotypes and could stand to do so more skillfully. For example, Eli and Warner somehow convince Veronica to dress up like Sailor Moon when Chinese investors come to the office for a meeting. Throughout the pilot, there are more jokes about Asians, Eli’s Hispanic maid and Warner’s Hispanic wife (Vanessa Lachey), and it’s all topped off with a barrage of penis jokes to close out the episode. With jokes about Hitler, race and penises, the Seth MacFarlane-produced series swings for some pretty low-hanging fruit and often misses.
However, the center of the show is truly the relationship between fathers and sons, as we know that the fathers ultimately mean well — even if they often act like parasites on the lives of their children. Surely anyone with a parent will find something to relate to in “Dads.” But unlike your actual parents, you have no obligation to keep “Dads” around.
Ife Olujobi is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.