Tuesday, 1 May 2012

393: Anita Bryant 9 - Mad Magazine 2

“Mad Magazine” January 1978
“He’s Company”
Writer: Arnie Kogen
Artist: Angelo Torres

In many respects, this is a fairly accurate parody of the intentions and shortcomings of the sitcom “Three’s Company”, with its reliance on titillation, mild innuendo, and some gay jokes. It was an American adaptation of the popular UK sitcom “Man About the House”. “Man About the House” was created and written by Johnnie Mortimer (not the writer of Rumpole) and Brian Cooke and ran from 1973 to 1976 for six series, a cheeky if largely harmless turn on the new domestic arrangements thrown up by the sexual revolution

The premise established in the first episode is that two attractive young female flatmates wake up to find a strange man asleep in their bath the morning after the farewell party for their departed flatmate, Since he is a chef and the two girls get along with him they invite him to become their new roommate. To preempt any objections about mixed-se living arrangements from their landlords they them that he is gay, or in the slightly more rough-and-ready argot of the 1970s “a poof”.

That he spends most of the first episode in a frilly lady’s bathrobe helps cement this impression. And note the discomfort that the landlord has around him.

The poof jokes barely get started in the series before the conceit of Jack being gay around his landlords gets dropped, so O’Sullivan never does anything to play up a gay performance. If that’s what you want though, why not dig up a copy of 1974’s appalling sex comedy “Can You Keep It Up For a Week?”(I haven’t seen it, but let’s be honest, they’re all appalling) in which O’Sullivan has a cameo as a blatantly camp photographer with a sailor boyfriend.

“Three's Company” was an American adaptation that first appeared on March 15, 1977. It is almost a direct copy of “Man About the House”, and proved very popular, running for about eight years, and subsequently in almost permanent syndication during the 80s when I lived in America. Since the US version is set in California, there was more of an emphasis on the attractive singles lifestyle of the mid/late 70s, with the show notable for its busty blonde character played by Suzanne Somers. For the writers of “Mad” the show is an exercise in mid T&A, leering and salacious

One of the recurring shticks is the American series is the disapproving landlord subjecting the young male lodger to a succession of mild gay mockeries such as tinkerbell, fairy, etc. However it it’s never quite the concentrated barrage that crops up in this parody. Here it may be intended as excess to satirise this recurring aspect of the show, but it also rather smacks of the writer’s opportunity to unload all these sort of gags in print. Even if you disregard the parody of the landlord character, this whole parody is larded with rather plonking gay puns from the very beginning.

Since the whole parody attacks the programme on the grounds of morals and standards, one can’t help feel when Anita Bryant is brought in as an censorious figure that the piece is incidentally endorsing her opinions

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