If you don’t already watch the Sarah Silverman Show, stop reading this and go to www.ComedyCentral.com to see when it’s on next, and watch whatever episode is playing.
The half-hour show is very funny, very smart, and totally fearless. In its pursuit of tackling hypocrisy, idiocy, and plain human foibles, it holds back nothing.
A recent episode, for example, had Sarah’s character (named Sarah) betting a black man that anti-Semitism was worse than racism. Another had Sarah joining this nice group of suburban women who wanted to stop murder—until she found out they were an anti-choice group who demanded she promise she’d never have another abortion. This is not your grandma’s sitcom.
This week’s episode started as usual, with Sarah talking to her little Chihuahua (an unusually non-neurotic and friendly dog named Doug). He keeps turning around to lick his balls while she talks, however, and eventually Sarah gets fed up with his inattention (a recurring theme—how dare anyone be interested in anything besides Sarah!).
Saying “what the hell’s so terrific about it,” she lifts up the pooch and licks his butt. She’s not at all pleased with the taste, and that would be that—but a neighbor sees her, and the horrified lady reports Sarah to the authorities. A few minutes later, several commandos break down her door, roughly search the place, and take Doug into protective custody. Sarah has become a pet abuser, and Doug a poor victim.
The caricature of America’s child abuse panic and compromised justice system is screamingly funny. It’s heartbreaking too, but it’s so over-the-top that we’re able to keep watching, eager to see what we’re going to laugh at next.
Sarah is now required to register as a pet abuser, and must go door-to-door telling her neighbors that their pets are at risk from her and should be carefully monitored whenever she walks the street. People in the local diner scorn her, and feel entitled to say nasty, humiliating things to her.
Sarah goes to a group rehab session, where she doesn’t exactly fit in, either(”I’m Joe, and I kill people”). But comparing herself to these thugs and psychopaths energizes her to call a lawyer, visit Doug in dog detention (which is filled with “bitches” getting humped) and insist on a trial. The inept lawyer puts Doug on the stand, and…well, I don’t want to spoil the ending for you.
The brilliance of the show lies in its willingness to address truths rarely mentioned, and to play them out in a real-yet-absurd way. Viewers can read as much or as little into the black comedy as they wish it works no matter how it’s approached. Sarah’s gay neighbors, for example, talk about a recognizably real thing—one wants to marry the other, but the guy is commitment-phobic, so he says they can’t marry because of the law, and they should always obey the law. This, while they smoke dope from an enormous bong.
Sarah’s closing rap about the world’s need for eccentric, curious people who don’t always observe society’s niceties is brilliant writing—especially in the context of her having been busted for raising sexual paranoia in the people around her.
We live in a country in which people are jailed—and their kids taken from them—for things like taking bearskin rug photos, letting them run around the backyard naked, and being told the proper names for their body parts. This is no joke. Watch as Sarah Silverman lampoons this extraordinary injustice while making you laugh.
Now that’s entertainment.