The War At Home, E4

by | Jul 13, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

If the sitcom plague cart was shuffling gloomily through the endless streets of TV channels mournfully asking for the dead to be thrown out, this old-fashioned family sitcom would be tossed mindlessly on to the pile.

What was good about it?

• When Dave and Vicky think they’ve worked out daughter Hillary’s ruse of dating a black teenager in order to let them date the lesser evil, in Dave’s eyes, of a college freshman, Vicky says that she pulled the same trick when she was a teenager. Up pops “Vicky’s mom” in the fantasy sequence box to counter he daughter’s claim. “We weren’t stupid,” she protests, “we just didn’t care.”

What was bad about it?

• The canned laughter. It sounds like the piteous empty laughter of a thousand damned souls resigned to an eternity of torture with a red hot stake.

• The character of Dave Gold (Michael Rapaport) who suffers from being a cross between Alf Garnett and Ben Harper from My Family. On the one hand, it’s clear that Dave is a boorish bigot who endures a tortuous phobia that his son Larry could be gay, and that his daughter sleeping with a college student is preferable to her being tainted by dating a black teenager. But on the other hand, the script is also angled towards eliciting sympathy for Dave as he struggles with his three teenage children so casting him as “not a bad guy really”.

• The device of cutting away from situations and into a sequence against a white screen during which the character’s true feelings or reactions are shown doesn’t really work. It’s mostly like when The Office used to cut away for one-on-ones with David Brent or Gareth but with none of the humour or pathos.

• The way in which because Larry is a little odd, his dad worries that he is gay and does so not from the perspective of a pompous old anachronism, but from the point of view that he is reflecting the ignorant concerns of modern American fathers.

• The trial of parents with teenagers isn’t explored with any originality; in fact it seems to relish the stolid traditionalism of the roles. The eldest son’s sexuality worries his parents, the 16-year-old daughter is growing up much to her father’s displeasure and the youngest son is a raging ball of testosterone who leers over his friend’s cosmetically-enhanced mother.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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