Tonight I happened to catch political comic duo Penn & Teller’s latest episode, “Family Values,” in a TV series with a name that can’t be printed on a family web site. (Episode profile and airtimes.)
The series airs on Showtime. This episode’s synopsis:
Examining the hysteria whipped up by the media and politicians to ‘save’ the traditional family structure, a desperate effort to perpetuate a fraudulent concept of mother, father, two kids, a dog and a picket fence.
Penn & Teller does not pretend to be unbiased. They do, however, allow multiple sides of an issue to air their views.
Exgay therapist Richard Cohen gets ample time to air his redefinition of the “traditional family” in the mold of 1950s TV shows, his sexualization of platonic “man love,” and his campaign to make men more macho. P&T react to Cohen with a mix of blunt factoids about Cohen (recited before by XGW) — and with the sexual putdowns that one expects of an after-hours program on Showtime.
The show is most effective when it portrays lesbian parents raising children with values that are just as ordinary and traditional as those of the religious right. The show also dissects the religious-right “traditional family” mantra with a family profile of a polyamorous heterosexual quartet and their children, and interviews with experts who either summarize the history of diverse family living arrangements or cite longitudinal studies on the health of children raised in nontraditional environments.
I come away from shows like this wondering why people like Cohen cooperate in their production. P&T, in particular, are well-known for their irreverent and profane political comedy.
Did Cohen’s desire for attention exceed the shame that he knew would result?
Or was Cohen looking for an opportunity to be insulted by liberal comedians so that the event could be turned into an indignant PFOX press release, WND story, and fund-raising appeal?