Monday, December 10, 2007

A Scrubs Peanut Christmas

Since I've been writing some pretty lengthy posts, I thought I'd just include a link to a spoof that the cast of Scrubs did on the Peanut Christmas special. [WARNING: If you have overly sentimental attachment to the original and cannot bear to hear the voice of Zach Brach come out of Charlie Brown's animated mouth, do not watch this.]

I've been watching the syndicated repeats of Scrubs, and I have to say I like the show--and for a mainstream tv sitcom, it's interestingly and surprisingly edgy about certain topics. For example, today one of the characters, Jordan, a woman depicted as bitchy and nasty, admits to having had an abortion at the age of 19 and not regretting it. When's the last time that happened?! She suffered no ill consequences on the show--she wasn't hit by a bus or condemned by others for her decision; she wasn't embarrassed; she did seem a tad bit wistful, but she was clear that she didn't regret the decision. The show also features an inter-racial couple, Carla and Turk (Puerto Rican and black) and at times has talked very candidly about race. Overall, it's not a bad sitcom in terms of how it handles diverse matters. Except can anyone believe that there'd be a hospital sitcom without any significant Asian American characters? A hospital??? And one set in Los Angeles??? PLEASE! No Filipino nurses or doctors? No South Asian med students? No Chinese/Korean/Japanese American patients? A true Hollywood fantasy.

[ADDENDUM--DEC. 12: I saw an episode of Scrubs today--the one where the schtick is that the episode is sung like they are all in a musical. In one of these musical interludes, when Turk makes some comment about Carla being Puerto Rican, she corrects him and says that she's Dominican. What follows is this song where Carla calls Turk on his ethnic myopia and his lumping of all Latino ethnicities into one another (including calling their baby a "blaxican"). All in all, while it wasn't advocating for a complete break down of racial hierarchies and ethnic stereotypes, it was still one of the more frank discussions of race and ethnicity (and all done while carrying a tune) than you normally see coming from a network sitcom.]


s-fizzle said...

Haha, I always thought that too!

I do love the peanuts though. Snoopy looks like Toto... in a way.

Ara said...

While not a main character, Turk's supervisor in the earlier shows appears to be Asian. Also, in one season, at least one of the interns appears to be Indian. Not that this is huge amount, nor are the main characters Asian, but there are a few. Have you seen the episodes where Zach dates an African American woman?

Jennifer said...

Yes, there are some secondary Asian American characters--I distinctly remember one episode where somehow JD makes a comment that is interpreted as racist against Asian Americans (it was one of those double-entendre situations, facilitated/egged on by "Janitor") and he has the entire Asian American staff of Sacred Heart pissed off at him--which I thought was a somewhat good way of showing the kinds of racism that happen with Asian Americans.

And I did see the episode where JD dates an AfAm woman. All in all, I do really think that Scrubs makes an attempt to depict real issues that real people in our mixed race America face, which is something to say in the realm of network tv.

Ara said...

I do really like your blog, btw. I'm new to the whole "blog" thing, but yours is always very thoughtful.

It is interesting how successful that show is at dealing with these serious topics. It reminds me a bit of SOAP that way--the show from the late 70s. By being Absurd (in a 1950s French way) it seems to allow itself more wiggle room.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your comments Ara--and I'm relatively new to the whole "blog" thing too, as in there are a few blogs I check in on, mostly for the race/Asian American content that overlaps with my own research in this area.

At any rate, please do feel free to leave comments--I really enjoy having conversations with people on these topics--and this blog has been a great way for me to talk to people I wouldn't normally get to have conversations with (as I'm holed up in my house with my dog trying to write this book, OY!)

One last thing, I like your comparison to SOAP -- I never really got into it, but from what few episodes I remember, I think that it was sort've cutting edge in a certain hyperbolic/dramatic way--and I like your observation about the absurd--it does allow us some wiggle room, and really, what can be more absurd than things around race?

Ara said...

Well, I for one would be interested in reading your book! Of course, that would ruin some of your anonymity. =)

I too am holed up in my apartment, writing a final paper for a PhD class on color-blind casting. (The paper, not the class.) Not as big as a book, but I feel you! (BTW--Hope you don't mind being cited in a paper. Does having your blog cited count toward tenure?!)

You should watch SOAP sometime if you find it. It is by far one of my favorite shows. Second season is the best!

Oddly enough, I've never thought of Scrubs as a show that deals with race--but as a white woman I sometimes overlook these things. So thanks for calling my attention to it. I guess if we wanted to think too much, we could discuss the way classicism functions within the show—specifically the Janitor.

Jennifer said...

Good luck with your paper--I remember, all too well, the pain of end-of-semester deadlines. And I'm flattered that you would think to cite my blog in your paper--I suppose I can't help but don my "professor" hat and caution that citing blogs can be tricky--esp. one in which the author in question is hiding behind a generic first name like "Jennifer"--although if it helps any, you can tell your professor that I am a real live professor with a real job at a real university somewhere in the South.

Although what you bring up about tenure and blogs is interesting, because of course I don't expect that any of this kind of writing will be seen by my rank and tenure committee--and I'm not exactly sure I would want them to know
(a) that I blog
(b) or to read this blog

It is an interesting question--the line between what I write in this blog, which overlaps with the questions I'm grappling with in my research, and what should "count" as scholarly writing.

Perhaps I should blog about it...


Ara said...

I actually am looking specifically at blogs as a form of audience response--I mostly study audience theory. But I certainly keep in mind that they are tricky. After all, you could really be a 50 year old gay black man living in China. And, I too, could be a 12 year old boy. But that's what makes them kind of fun. How do people perform their identites on the web?

If you want a good laugh, google "Edward Albee doesn't wash his hands." An excellent example of why bloggs can't always be trusted. I can't wait till one of my students cite it!

Jennifer said...

What an interesting paper! I'm especially intrigued because I'm leaning towards ending my book with a short coda/conclusion on trasnracial adoption blogs--esp. given all the activity that was happening in the blogosphere about the NY Times "Relative Choices" series (and the comments that got made after each entry).

At any rate, good luck with the paper!