Married with Children... All Things Episodic


0303  -  "I'm Going to Sweatland"

"I'll make millions and you' in the way." (Steve)
"Alright!" (Al)

Well, I know this episode's a favourite amongst some people on the
newsgroup, but to be honest I felt that didn't really gel as much as I
was expecting. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Incidentally, a
part of this episode - namely Marcy's orgasm - was completely removed by
Sky. More cuts... but anyhow, onto the episode proper. This is the most
obvious and direct attempt by MWC to produce social criticism; rather
than looking at the world in terms of people as with the previous story,
He Thought He Could, the episode concerns itself with American society.
As such it loses a little of its original impact for those of us
watching from outside the USA - indeed, from a certain point of view,
this episode is prime ammunition for American-bashers. The comedy in
this episode is a little lost and the balance is wrong, edging too far
in favour of observation and not enough in terms of one-liners. Perhaps
they're not important to the message, but they're important to the feel
and the ambience of the episode.

"Peg, just like I said on our honeymoon - what's going on here?" (Al)

As so often, Marcy becomes the vehicle for the voice of genuine reason
and the 'proper path', providing a genuine moral; like she observes, the
way society is today, it's no wonder that women (read: people) have to
turn to dead men (read: the past) for excitement (read: innovation). An
obsession with the past, on the other hand, is by no means uniquely
American, so this provides a little more audience identification for
myself. Devoting whole theme parks and sub-cultures to the past,
however, is something that is identified with America, often purely on a
question of scale. This episode has quite a substantial moral point to
put across; it is not concerned with what people (i.e. the Bundys) make
of their destinies, but of the path of society and the way it is shaping
the Bundys and Rhoadeses. Peggy in particular falls victim to the Cult
of Elvis and the scenes with the "Elvis groupies" hanging around her are
amusing, if predictable. As Al notes, the children are the most
noticeable point in the Bundy-Elvis shrine - they quickly latch onto the
method of making money and forget even family relations, when Kelly
lightly tells her father to get out of the way in his own house. 

"I'm suing you, Al. My wife won't leave your house." (Steve)
"Neither will mine, but they threw me out of court!" (Al)

Did anybody notice what happened to the shirt with the sweat-stain once
the Shrine became established? It becomes secondary to Peggy's story and
to quick jokes about the way the Bundys are capitalising upon it. This
is the only point of the episode that I thought was really worth
remembering; the original object, no matter how ridiculous, has
nonetheless fallen victim to market forces. Quite a telling comment, I
thought. Meanwhile, Al, as with Marcy, is representing the voice of
reason; he rubbishes the idea of Elvis returning from the dead and
everything goes on around him. Bewildered, he is finally thrown out of
his own home because of his objections, forced to sleep in the shoe
store. Al is a metaphor, here, being used to show that the ordinary
person not only does not care about this cult, but how the fascination
with the past can become dangerous. It's powerfully ironic, then, that
Al himself is defined by his own memories of the past. It's not bad.
It's just not good either. 

Rating 6.

By Grail


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