Dec 26, 2021

"Duncanville": Is the Fox Sitcom More "Family Guy" Homophobic or "Bob's Burgers" Gay-Positive?


The families in Fox animated sitcoms come in two varieties: the Family Guy (FG) type hate each other and rarely interact except to exchange barbs, and the Bob's Burgers (BB) type like each other and often share plot.  Coincidentally, the FG type tend to be blisteringly homophobic, and the BB gay-friendly.  To see which the series Duncanville is, I watched the Season 1 Finale.

Intro: The teenage Duncan (Amy Poehler) walks past the other characters: aging rocker Dad, blond Mom, two sisters (tween with purple hair, Japanese toddler), three friends (nerd, stoner, girl), hip teacher, and The Girl of His Dreams.  Cue the hearts and flowers and goofy expression. Ugh!

Scene 1:
  Breakfast.  The kids all discuss their agendas; hard to tell which will get a plot arc.  It wil lprobably go to the purple-haired sister, Kimberly, who has to sell $800 of cookies so she can win a trip to the Fun Park and spend the day with the Mean Girls.  They're mean but popular, so if Kimberly hangs out with them, she will become popular, too.

Scene 2: Duncan and his friends hanging out at school.   The Girl of His Dreams drops by to tell them that she is the only candidate for class president.  She asks Duncan to run against her, so she'll have someone to beat.  Goofy look.  "Huh?  Did you ask me to do something?  Sorry, I wasn't paying attention.  I was busy imagining us kissing."

Scene 3:  The cookie-selling B Plot.

Scene 4: At school, before the big presidential debate.  Duncan is nervous.  He asks why the Girl  (named Mia) wants to be president so badly.  Isn't being the most beautiful girl in the universe enough?  She says she wants to improve the quality of life for the students.  "Couldn't you just smile at them?"

The debate begins.  Mia is asked her ideas about a prom theme, but she believes that proms are outdated.  Why not a service day instead?  Meanwhile, Duncan promises to provide sheet cake for lunch, abolish gym, and start class at 11:00 am. He's elected by a landslide. Dude, your chances of getting that kiss have just tanked.

Scene 5: The family congratulates Duncan on his victory.  Meanwhile, Kimberly tries to guilt her parents into selling the cookies for her: "the only reason I wanted to become popular was so you would be proud of me, and now I've failed you...."

It works; the parents decide to sell the cookies.

Scene 6:  At school. Duncan orders the installation of a taco bar, replaces the drinking fountains with snack machines, turns the Model U.N. into a ball pit, and cuts down the climbing rope in the gym. Mia points out that becoming class president is an essential step on the road to becoming U.S. president in 30 years, and asks him to resign.  He refuses.

"But I'm the Girl of Your Dreams.  Why don't you get a goofy expression and do whatever I ask?"  Duncan shrugs.  "I have a crush on you, but the school has a crush on me."  Apparently having power is more fun than imagining kissing.

Scene 7: The parents selling the cookies.

Scene 8:
  Mia conducts some research, and discovers that the school charter actually gives Duncan supreme power.  He cancels all classes forever, and won't allow anyone to check books out of the library without winnng a "John Wick style book fight."  

Meanwhile, the parents overhear Mia bragging about how she manipulated them.  They vow to get revenge.

Scene 9:  The friends congratulate Duncan on his success as president.  But the students start making absurd demands, like a pool on the roof, or "Make Caitlin go to the prom with me," or just "give me money."    He asks Mia's advice.  Again, she wants him to resign, but he counters by promising the students the biggest thing ever: a personal appearance by the youtube stars, the Flossing Bears.

Scene 10: The revenge scheme: Pretend to be an FBI agent. Call and tell Kimberly that the cookies are poisoned, so she has to get them back or she'll be arrested and have her cell phone taken away.  So she rushes and takes back the cookies, and returns the money (and the meth head's copper wire).

Scene 11: The big Flossing Bears concert.  Mia interrupts to tell the audience that they have to stop Duncan now, or they'll lose the things that make high school "a nightmarish four years that we'll look back on fondly," like football, marching band, the antiquated prom, and "whatever Key Club is."  Besides, Duncan doesn't have the money to pay the bears, so they attack.

Scene 12: The parents tell Kimberly about their deception.  They are on their way to school to return the cookies, when they run into Duncan and Mia fleeing from the rampaging bears.  Mia figures out a way to save the day.  Duncan resigns as president.  Everything is back to normal.  The end.

Beefcake: No.

Heterosexism: Obviously.  But I liked how Duncan was able to relate to Mia on more than a "Your smile fills my universe" level.  They could actually argue and compete.

Gay Characters: None.

FG or BB?  BB-style, with a bit of an edge.

My Grade: C.

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