Television needs more functional families, not more dysfunctional ones. But try telling that to the Fox network, which serves up the latter in cruel excess. It's dys-Fox-ional television.
Fox's latest freakish family is the sickly Greens, who inhabit one of the first shows of the new fall season to premiere, "Get Real," a one-hour drama with comedy making its debut tonight at 9 on Channel 5.
"Get Real"? Get out!
Sex, naturally, is uppermost in the minds of many of the Green family members and, it would seem, also uppermost in the minds of Fox programmers. And so the premiere opens with a woman moaning "Oh God, oh God" repeatedly in a seemingly orgasmic frenzy. It's Mrs. Green (Debrah Farentino), dreaming that she is having sex with her husband's best friend when actually she is just having sex with shlubby hubby (Jon Tenney) himself.
After that, we are confronted with pubescent son Kenny (Jesse Eisenberg), who begins narrating the show. He speaks directly into the camera, thus eradicating any potential trace of realism and using a trick common to many of the new shows this season. Kenny keeps up a steady blabbering until his older sister, Meghan (Anne Hathaway), picks up the narration and proves even blabbier than Kenny is.
"I've got this killer bod that I don't have to work out for," she boasts, looking us in the eye to tell us, "I know what you're thinking: This is another of those smart-ass shows where the kids talk to the audience like on `Dawson's Creek.' " Then she remembers that, in fact, the kids on "Dawson's Creek" do not talk to the audience. Anyway, she says, "I wouldn't be caught dead watching it."
References to many contemporary TV shows are squeezed into the dialogue, including a shout of "Oh my God, you killed Kenny!" as heard frequently on Comedy Central's caustic cartoon "South Park."
Obviously the writers and producers of this self-conscious, semi-facetious, desperately gimmicky romp think they're being edgy and clever and all Ally McHip. What they're really being is off-putting and smirky and smug. "Get Real" is neither comedy nor drama, really, but more of a mercilessly protracted sketch that keeps seeming to end but then doesn't.
On and on and on it drones, and yakety-yak go the characters, the most obnoxious of whom is randy Cameron (Eric Olsen), a 16-year-old who brings girls home to sleep with him in his bedroom. This leads Meghan to observe that Cameron is "the only one in the house who's getting any." Gosh, aren't kids cute?
The Greens are monsters, terrifying in their banality and coy, winky-wink outrageousness. Peering down a girl's cleavage, Kenny declares: "I love bras, the secrets they hold. All right! There is a God." The existence of breasts proves that to him. Later a deranged woman bares hers at the Green family dinner table, but Fox obscures the breasts with blurry little squares. Fox should obscure the whole show with blurry little squares.
Encountering the unexpected breasts is reassuring to Kenny because he fears he will die before seeing his "first real boob" after being threatened by the requisite high school bully. Do all of these shows have to feature bullies who intimidate other kids? Kenny is bullied while standing at a urinal in the boys' bathroom at school. He calculates that his tormentor is "bigger than Janet Reno."
Clearly, Fox hopes that "Get Real's" combination of teenage sex, domestic strife and "McBeal"-like kookiness will pull in an audience of youthful viewers and maybe their parents as well. That way entire families can suffer excruciating torture together. But the quirks and foibles and stupidity of the Greens are neither endearing nor intriguing. It's all just trumped-up tripe.
"We lost our way," laments Mr. Green, getting serious out of the blue. "Think we can find it again?" worries Mrs. Green. By all means let's show them the way -- the way out.