Monday, November 10, 2014

alpha house

As if I needed another show about DC politics to watch (I did), I've just started watching a new one: Alpha House.

Alpha House is a political satire produced by and written by Gerry Trudeau (creator/author of the often political Doonesbury comic). Trudeau is famously critical of Republicans. I actually talk about one of his infamous comics in my book manuscript (more on that in the not-to-distant-future); he labeled George H. W. Bush as a wimp and said he "put his manhood in a trust" (WTF that means) by joining the Reagan ticket, so Trudeau's foray into politics did not start with Alpha House.

But in this interview published last week in the New York Times, Trudeau mentions that Alpha House is written to entertain audiences, and the decision to focus on the Republicans (the 4 main characters are Republican senators who share a DC house) is because the Republican narrative is just more interesting. Thus, he is not necessarily attempting to make any political statements, or mobilize any opposition, with this show.

I think Trudeau is meeting his goal--its wildly entertaining. I love it. As I mentioned, its about 4 Republican senators, sharing a house. The 4 senators are all really different, and definitely represent the variety of Republicans out there--which isnt *that* diverse, so you can do it with 4 characters ;) Oh, but the 4 main characters do not include a Tea Party Republican. If anything, the show's only political statement is sympathy to "old" Republican Party values and representatives, in the way the show endearingly portrays Republicans who reject the Tea Party ways. And the way the show portrays the ridiculousness of the Tea Party with one member legally murdering 3 people, and another carrying her handgun on capital hill.

The four main characters represent more moderate Republicanism. John Goodman plays a former basketball coach, current senator from North Carolina. Clark Johnson (I haven't ever seen him in anything before) plays a black Republican from PA. Mark Consuelos (Kelly Ripa's husband) plays a young newly elected latino Republican from Florida. And Matt Malloy a Mormon Senator from Nevada. There is also a reoccurring role for Haley Joel Osment (I see dead people) and Bill Murray! I just checked, you can get all that info from Wikipedia, ha. But I just wanted to talk about something I keep noticing in the show that is bugging me (but I'll keep watching obviously), and that is the portrayal of the Mormon senator from Nevada.

Mormons, and people who know Mormons, understand them to be pretty distinct. And even though its a Christian religion, there are a few things we do different. For example, one thing a lot of people tell me they notice as distinct about Mormons is the way we pray--we fold our arms. Others may claps their hands together, or interlock their fingers, but mormons fold their arms and bow their heads. This is actually something the show got right, and it was hilarious.
the UT senator and his wife saying a prayer
But what the writers got wrong about Mormon prayers is the way we open and close our prayers. Mormons begin with "Dear Heavenly Father" and close with "I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Always. While the church doesn't have any verbatim prayers it relies on, the intro and conclusion are pretty standard. In the show, his wife says a prayer, and doesn't get that right. It really disappointed me!

Next, there is a scene where the Mormon senator is skyping with his daughter, who is in her dorm room at BYU. In the background is a Cross, obviously to  decorate the set to remind viewers that they are a religious family. But the Mormon church actually discourages displays of the cross/crucifix, out of respect, and as a means to direct focus on Christ's life. SO, another point they got wrong. In subsequent episodes I didn't see the cross, and instead they had a wooden sign displaying "Family, Faith, and Love" in cursive. That's more like it. 

Another mistake is where the Mormon senator's wife orders him his favorite drink, an ice tea with 3 Splenda. Another misstep!! Mormons don't drink iced tea. No way, no how. 

I guess the point of this post is to show that Alpha House needs to hire a Mormon writer, ha. So, if you know a writer for the show, give them my card. I'd be happy to serve as a Mormon consultant. Also, I have a PhD in political science, so I'm pretty much a twofer. Also, despite these lapses in script and set, if you like comedies about DC, you should check this one out. Its fannnnntastic.