After much hype from the Comedy Central marketing department, the newest production from the minds of South Park's Matt Stone and Trey Parker premiered last night. The show? That's My Bush.
That's My Bush stars Timothy Bottoms as President George W. Bush and Carrie Quinn
Dolin as the First Lady. Rounding out the cast are Marcia Wallace as Maggie the
White House Maid, Kristen Miller as "Princess", a White House Secretary, John D'Aquino as Larry, the "Next door Neighbor" and Kurt Fuller as the president's Top Advisor.
Timothy Bottoms has our newly elected president down pat. As the bumbling head of state we can't help but sympathize slightly with Bottoms' dubya. He's a caring, bumbling, moronic husband and inept leader, trying desperately to balance his marriage and the most important job in the country. In this first episode we watch desperately as Stone and Parker lampoon Bush's "Uniter not a Divider" stance as he holds an "Abortion Summit" sitting down the leaders of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice stances for a formal dinner. The object being, of course, to have a photo-op of dubya standing behind the two leaders as they shake hands.
Carrie Quinn Dolin portrays Laura Bush as an all too typical housewife trying to
handle herself in the topsy-turvy realm of the White House. She's trying desperately to keep the attention of her husband as he deals with important issues of state. Guiding her is Wallace's no-nonsense character of Maggie, the Maid in the White House who has been through several presidential administrations. She knows it all, and isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Wallace brilliantly lampoons her previous work on The Bob Newheart Show, and is easily the source of some of the most humorous lines in the first episode.
Bush's staff is made up of the sensible Kurt Fuller, who plays the straight man beautifully. He flabbergasted by Bush's antics and overwhelmed by some of the moronic suggestions of the president. Bush's secretary "Princess" is the typical Stone and Partner bimbo character, 36-24-36 any of which would outdo the character's IQ by several orders of magnitude.
That's My Bush in not only a lampoon of the president, but also of the American sitcom, complete with canned laughter, and the requisite "Awwww" during moments of
tenderness between dubya and the First Lady. Each character is a parody in its
own right, complete with the aforementioned "Wacky Neighbor" who pops in with an
out of place smile to deliver a few lines and have a beer (indeed the thought of
the White House having a neighbor is the source of a little amusement). The plot
of the first episode is also one of standard sitcom fare, where George W. has to
juggle a romantic dinner with his wife with the Abortion Summit dinner, we watch
as he races between the two, changing jacket and tie each time (although both outfits are identical). Indeed the Bumbling Husband, the somewhat clueless but optimistic wife, the maid full of sass and the wisdom of experience, the straight laced advisor and the blonde bimbo secretary all have roots in sitcoms of the past.
But where's the offense? No venture of Stone & Parker would be complete without the trademark offensive humor. The Comedy Central veterans have perfected the art of attacking sensitive issues in a way that makes us laugh so hard we forget to be offended. In the premiere of That's My Bush we are assaulted with a leader of the pro-life movement being represented by a puppet of a 30-year-old undeveloped fetus that survived an abortion attempt, and a leader of the pro-choice movement represented by a masculine female sporting a mullet. Somehow Stone and Parker pull it off.
All in all I enjoyed the show, although I admit it was not entirely what I expected, this is not a witty satire on the presidency, but an assault on the American Sitcom. It uses the president as a source for storylines, and as a vessel to take on American sensibilities (which has been a hallmark of South Park's popularity), in that it is a success.