“Hey what do you know… now that we finally found an American one it’s working again. God Bless America.”
The experts that recap television shows for a living all agree: We are living in a golden age of television. But the HBO and AMC shows we love today were influenced and shaped by the classic shows of yesterday. We look at those shows. This week: Whose Line Is It Anyway, Season 1, Episode 5. The Mirror.
The best television holds up a mirror to society. Our favorite heroes are the ones within which we see ourselves. Our favorite villains hold on to their pride, are ashamed of embarrassment and have real human needs. But sometimes the great heroes and villains of our time transcend these minute, personal details and attempt to reflect the flaws of our society as a whole. They show the capitalistic greed and the selfish power struggles that America breeds. The best television makes us consider our place in the world. In the fifth episode of ‘Whose Line is it, Anyway?’ we, the American viewers, are subtlety put in our place as we realize that the villain we’ve grown to hate represents everything we’ve come to both cherish and loathe about America. Power hungry, xenophobic and unapologetically patriotic, our anti-hero embodies the duality of our culture. Drew Carey is America. Welcome home.
It begins blatantly and abruptly: “And as a special treat for all you people watching on an American television, we're in 3-D,” Drew snarls at the camera. There it is: a slap in the face for all the foreign viewers of this seminal ABC Family classic. You want to enjoy these short-form improv games in three dimensions, Japan? Would you like to see their zany props come out at you, Uruguay? Too bad. Drew Carey won’t let you.
It’s an incredibly bold and daring move. It’s also the only show on television that forces us, the viewer, to encounter first hand the moral bias of it’s characters. I was watching from a computer, not an American television, so I can say with an alarming amount of confidence that I wanted an American television. I wanted to see these games in three dimensions. But therein lies the genius: Whose Line doesn’t tell us what evil looks like. It shows us.
America’s capitalist grip continues. In perhaps the most tense, frightening few minutes of the series run Drew Carey’s buzzer breaks during a game of Props. This is the buzzer that Drew uses to rule the improvers with an iron fist. And it breaks. I was on the edge of my seat… Will Drew’s temper shine through? Will we finally see the Drew we know is capable of murdering Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie? Will he use a doorbell sound instead of the buzzer? Luckily, for Ryan and Colin, he uses the doorbell and declared the buzzer broken.
What happened to the buzzer? Was it sabotaged? This is possibly the biggest question the series has given us since it first asked us whose line is it, anyway? But Drew finds a way to fit the mystery into his pro-America narrative. Two games later we hear the dreaded tone of a bee swarm. The buzz is back. Drew clues us in: “Hey what do you know… now that we finally found an American one it’s working again. God Bless America.” Keep playing improvers, your enslavement to the man continues. Home of the free indeed.
But this patriotic American façade would not be complete without the yin to its yang. Xenophobia. Early on in the show Brad is forced to make up a song about a young woman named Niroshi. The audience roars as he sings to her: “Why couldn’t you have an easier rhyming name.”
And in this moment we see Brad shift allegiances. He is no longer the young, abused cub we saw hazed throughout episode two. Brad has gone to the dark side. The way of Drew Carey.
And then comes ‘Howdown.’ “Name something about modern life that annoys you,” Drew asks the (American) crowd. Their answer: tourists. Here is Brad’s terrifying hoedown:
Tourists are the ones in shorts with sandals on their feet,
When I drive around I run them over in the street.
Brad has just admitted to murder.
In the first five episodes of this series we’ve seen the worst side of humanity. Drew has enslaved his improvers, held them in a sexless dungeon, murdered Greg Proops, and has forced Wayne Brady to sing a song without knowing the lyrics. But never have I seen an episode as terrifying as this. Drew is America. And he’s holding up a mirror. Drew is all of us. And now Drew has an ally. Hello Brad.
A war is coming on Whose Line is it, Anyway?
LAST THOUGHTS OF A RANDOM NATURE
- Wayne Brady was not present in this episode. Could he have been murdered too? Perhaps he and Greg are alive and living in a rebel camp? A district 13 of the Whose Line world… we will see.
- In the game Sportscasters Brad named the anchors Carl Orangutan and Carl Chimpanzee. Monkey names. Yet they were human. Fitting that Brad became Drew’s monkey by the end of the episode.
- In the introductions Drew declares that Colin Mochrie’s name rhymes with Orange. This is a lie. A lie fabricated by the Whose Line machine.
- Welcome Karen Maruyama to the show. The first female improver. Unless we count Laura Hall, who like The Others in LOST, remains a mystery.
- “100 points to Colin cause he doesn’t get to talk about perms that often.” In Drew’s world you are only able to talk about hair that you are able to grow.
- When Drew played ‘Stand, Sit, Bend’ with Colin and Ryan they couldn’t figure out who was supposed to sit and stand and it was really silly and I laughed and I told my roommate to watch it.