I admit to being a fan of Fox’s “animation domination” line up. The Simpson’s, American Dad, Family Guy, even The Cleveland Show has moments that I like. This is probably because for the most part these show tilt liberal and are some of the few that actually present an alternative viewpoint.
But there has always been a hole in the Fox line up that is proving difficult to fill. In its latest attempt, Fox is trying what is quite probably the worst show on Television; aka Allan Gregory.
I don’t write reviews and usually take the position that if something isn’t worth watching, well then, change the channel. So take the fact I am doing a review at all as an indication of just how bad I think this new show is. It takes offensive and lifts it to the stratosphere of poor taste; or rather, I should say plunges it into the deepest sewer.
The premise of the show surrounds a pretentious 7 year old boy named Allen Gregory De Longpre being raised by two (supposedly) gay fathers; Richard (his biological father) and Jeremy (Richard’s husband). Allen Gregory (and that is his full first name) also has an adopted Cambodian sister, named Julie. In the pilot, Allen is informed that because Richard has money problems, he can no longer be home schooled and has to start attending the public school that his sister Julie attends.
Now at this point, I was expecting a somewhat bland, reasonable clichéd half hour entry that replaced the forgettable Bob’s Burgers. Sort of an animated Modern Family meets Boy Meets World. Na uh. Not a chance.
The fact that Julie attends public school and isn’t home schooled as well, is the first indication of the direction this show is set to take. In the first episode, we watch as both Richard and Allen treat Jeremy with utter distain. Allen hopes Jeremy has full blown AIDS, insults his sister and throws a tantrum on the balcony when he learns he hasn’t won a Tony nomination but rather has to go to school. And this is in the first 5 minutes.
Despite it being continuously suggested that Allen has a higher than normal IQ, he is enrolled in a normal second grade class where he promptly shows contempt for his teacher, calling her by her first name (Gina) with heavy emphasis on the first syllable, refers to her as an idiot, denigrates the only boy who is friendly to him and starts to sexually harass his 60 year old, married, female principal.
When the first day blows up with his other classmates rejecting him, Allen states he is never returning to school again, where upon Jeremy sits down to talk to him. Here we learn that Jeremy isn't actually gay. He was a married man with two children and Richard was one of his clients. Richard decided they were destined to be together and began a campaign of harassment. Ignoring all “barriers” including restraining orders, Richard continued his pursuit of Jeremy until Jeremy lost his family, his job and finally gave in and moved in with Richard. So now we have the hilarious knowledge that explains Richard’s contemptuous treatment of Jeremy; he is a stalker who has captured his victim. He isn’t actually in love with Jeremy, he simply owns him.
If you thought the show couldn’t get any less worse, in subsequent episodes, Allen ogles his principle as she is seen bending over, claims he has a “sex tape” of her and him (a felony that for some reason doesn’t initiate a call to the police), refers to his teacher a whore and suggests to her face that she’s had breast augmentation. We also get to laugh and laugh as Richard decides that Julie’s friends aren’t up to his standards (one wears a permanent body cast and the other has brown skin) and hires white actors to replace them. The denigration of Julie, as an adopted Asian child, at the hands of Richard and Allen is a non-stop laugh riot.
The last episode dealt with the sensitive subject of racism with Allen insisting that a Latino boy be fired from the school because he wouldn’t clean up a mess in the cafeteria. He refuses to believe that that boy is just a student and not also the janitor. He then claims reverse racism when his teacher punishes him for it. He then goes on to produce a play detailing his victimization had the hands of his insensitive teacher. After being booed off the stage, there is a risk that Allen might actually learn an important lesson in human behavior. Not to worry though, on the verge of actually seeing his teacher was right, Allen is cheered by audience members who mistake the Latino boy’s condemnation of the play as being part of the script.
The whip cream on this special sundae of offensiveness was the little back story that revealed the school superintendent is also sexually harassing Allen’s teacher. The revelation that he had slipped a date rape drug into her drink when he invited her out for coffee is a source of true comedy gold.
It is not unusual for unlikeable characters to be likeable; it is a very old formula. South Park’s Cartman, Family Guy’s Quagmire, American Dad's Roger and the Simpson’s Mr. Burns are cases in point. But each of these characters are able to be likeable despite their evil and malevolent characteristics because everybody else around them recognizes them for what they are and reacts accordingly. In the case of Allen Gregory, we get the feeling that Richard and Allen are the norm and everybody else is the problem. Each show is set up not as a learning experience for Allen or Richard, but as a “how are they going to get out of this pickle” quandary. The solution inevitably involves telling a bigger and more outrageous lie or by just pretending that problem created just doesn’t exist anymore and ignoring it until it goes away.
Compounding the extreme distaste of this show’s apparent message that shallow, cruel sexism and harassment are acceptable standards of behavior, is that the motivation of the main character is confused and inconsistent. Not in a way that suggests growth or learning mind you, but in a way that makes you wonder if you missed a scene at some point. In one episode, Allen’s rival, a boy named Joel, is off sick. Despite being humiliated by Joel on countless occasions - acts that given Allen's own repulsive personality, don’t really generate much sympathy for the pretentious monster - Allen insists on being the one to take the ailing Joel his missed homework. Why? We are never told. Back at school, Allen makes a play for Joel’s girlfriend and moves to separate Joel from his friends. But when Joel returns to school and finds himself suddenly excluded and ignored, Allen (seemingly) has a change of heart and maneuvers Joel into winning back both girl and posse. Again. WHY? Did Allen learn something from all this? Grow as a human being? Develop a better relationship with Joel? No. There was absolutely no point to the entire story you just watched; other than we get to see Allen call his teacher a stupid whore while browbeating his only friend into giving him Joel’s homework assignment.
I really didn’t think it was possible that Fox could put on a show that would be beneath even them, but they have risen to the challenge. Allen Gregory is an appalling piece of garbage that hopefully will be cancelled and soon forgotten.