Hip conservatives talk about South Park Republicans. People who have a sense of humor and an enormous tolerance for the potty mouths of Kyle and Cartman. It’s supposed to say something meaningful about who we are. I’m not so sure about that. It’s actually pretty easy to like South Park. The satirical targets aren’t subtle at all. Most of the laughter has to do with the obviousness of those targets. Rob Reiner is a hypocritical asshole. Hillary Clinton has a nuclear vagina. Ha ha.
The demographic that interests me is the AbFab Republicans. Do you know the show? Absolutely Fabulous. Brit sitcom. Any attempt at description is doomed to failure. Everything about the show screams satire, but the target is elusive. We have two women, both pampered and utterly worthless, one an ex-hippie narcissist and one an ex-groupie narcissist, both of them drunken freeloaders in the London fashion scene. They get a load on and take the Concorde to Paris to look at a doorknob for the rehab of the kitchen one of them burned down in the previous night’s binge. The only sane one is the hippie’s daughter, who is a humorless drab actively hated by the ex-groupie. At one point the two actually sell the daughter to white slavers in Marrakesh. But nothing they do ever actually works, so the bad penny returns and everything keeps going and going and going.
As descriptions go, the one above is pretty good. What it doesn’t do is convey just how falling down laughing funny the show is. Jennifer Saunders, the hippie (and chief writer) is so far beyond Lucille Ball in terms of timing and physical comedy that I blush even to make the comparison. Her sidekick, played by former model and world class beauty Joanna Lumley, is equally brilliant, amazingly able to top everyone in any given scene. Both of them are astoundingly willing to look just godawful bad in exchange for a laugh. Lumley, for example, is still a beautiful woman, but she seems delighted to portray a whorish, haggard, selfish bitch clinging to the remnants of her sixties youth.
One can grope for labels. AbFab is a post-modern nihilist grotesquerie that mocks the whole genre of situation comedies. Or not. It could be something altogether else. But what it does for certain is defeat the notion that a series must have at least one character you can really like and identify with. It doesn’t have any of those. Its point seems to be that if you’re really and truly funny, you don’t need anything else.
And funny it is.
Right now, it’s running as a marathon on the Logo Channel. Right. You know what that means. Gay guys love AbFab. So Republicans need not apply. Right?
Wrong. The deep satirical target the show consistently hits with annihilating precision is the absurdity of life lived without real human values. Fads and pseudo-libertarian Nietschean hubris don’t do anything but make you ridiculous. Every possible fad in ideology and self actualization pop psychology makes an appearance in Absolutely Fabulous. And nobody ever wins.
You can watch it and roll on the floor laughing without being gay. Trust me. And all these years later, Lumley is still — underneath the clown makeup — as hot as she was in The New Avengers.
How you can be sure you’re still a Republican.