Bob Franken




For the kiddies, it’ll be necessary to start this rant by explaining that there was an immensely popular TV show called “Dallas” that ran from 1978 through 1991. It traced the antics of a grossly dysfunctional Texas family dynasty. Now we have the soap opera about a grossly dysfunctional British family dynasty. We could call it “Palace.”
Where “Dallas” was fiction, “Palace” is stranger than fiction. But there are similarities: The Ewings of South Fork were caught up in intrigue for their entire 13-year show run. In the case of London’s Windsors, they have a history of plotting and murder that goes back centuries. Both have absolute rulers: the Windsors’ royal QE2, and the Ewings’ JR2, who is a royal pain. So are all their squabbling offspring.
Prince Harry is the latest one to give Queen Elizabeth fits. He and his wife Meghan have basically done a Johnny Paycheck. (For the benefit those who watch too much PBS and wouldn’t be caught dead listening to country music, Paycheck recorded a song called “Take This Job and Shove It.”)

When all was said and done, Meghan and Harry followed in the footsteps of Harry’s mom, Diana, and before her, King Edward the VIII, who just up and quit. They will even spend part of their lives in (gasp) the colonies, or least in Canada, which is a suburb of the United States colonies.
Now, as you can imagine, the queen was not amused. After what amounts to an intervention, she put out a statement, which read in part: “It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.”
Doesn’t that sound like the employer who has fired someone and puts out a memo declaring “We wish him well,” which as we know is another way of saying, “May he burn in hell”? But let’s face it, families are such fun, particularly when they have such a stiff upper lip. We haven’t even gotten to the escapades of Prince Andrew yet, although in the wake of this “Megxit mess” he’s apparently back in his mom’s good graces after she previously dropped him like a stone for the way he’s handled accusations that he had sex with a minor. Sounds like new material for “Palace.”
We need more of this on the telly in the United States. The closest we’ve come to parodying our ruling families is a fictional series that resembles the Clintons. You remember the Clampetts, don’t you, that long-running show about country-come-to-town kinfolk in the bright lights of the city? And then, of course, we have the Trumps. Yes, there are many mob shows, but “The Sopranos” might be most appropriate, considering the president’s irritating high-pitched voice. Or we could come up with a new one about a Don, his wives, sons and daughters along with his collection of obsequious jesters. We can call it “Classless.”
“Clueless” might be a good way to describe his enemies, certainly the Democrats who line up against him. Or maybe it’s “Feckless,” as they fire most of their bullets at each other. Watching their debates is an exercise in frustration for those who would like to replace Trump come Election Day, as is watching their party’s Representatives and senators get outmaneuvered at every turn as they attempt to remove him from office via impeachment. They may have the Constitution on their side, but Donald Trump has Twitter. Guess who wins that one?
Guess who loses? The American people do. All of us. Our democracy is supposed to be a participatory process, but just about anyone with any sense or any self-pride has justifiably concluded that it’s not worth the effort. Most of us who care at all are pretty much disgusted at the lot of those who practice the dark art of government. I suppose if you would create a TV show about the American people, a good name would be “Calloused.”

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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