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And the shoe just dropped [My Favorite Husband vs. Burns and Allen] October 31, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches, Fandom, Meta.
Tags: ,

Welp, I’ve gotten to the domestic-abuse jokes in My Favorite Husband. Or, to put it another way: wow, this show talks about spanking a lot. Maybe it would work if you could headcanon in some kind of kinky domestic-discipline negotiation backstory, but mostly it just feels very Fifty Shades of Cooper.

…which is compounded by the fact that “making out” is the only thing Liz and George seem to really enjoy about each other. The narration bills them as a Happy Couple, but a fair amount of the comedy is from the “straight married people fight with each other” school. A regular gag is George saying something vaguely positive about another woman, and Liz bursting into tears about how clearly he doesn’t love her anymore. George can be super condescending, and both of them will end up in situations where they’re yanking the other’s chains, and the joy they take in it has an edge of meanness, instead of, say, fondness.

It has its charms, and at their best they’ll hit genuinely funny and clever notes, so the series is still in the “listenable” pile. Re-listenable, not so much.

For the record, there are things that don’t make the “listenable” pile. I’m not so desperate for audio material that there’s nothing I won’t bounce off of, honest.

A few old-school radio comedies that got rejected: Vic and Sade; Duffy’s Tavern; Fibber McGee and Molly (Great Gildersleeve was a spinoff of this, but even the Gildy episodes felt subpar); the radio version of The Red Skelton Show.

I said MFH felt like watered-down Burns & Allen Show — you know, it’s possible George and Gracie could’ve made something better out of the same material? Their IRL happy marriage, and their general adoration of each other, glows through their characters. (Same way Stephen Colbert’s general human decency showed through in “Stephen”, come to think of it.)

But the material they got was different, too. They don’t make fun of each other. There’s that power balance I talked about, where Liz’s George doesn’t seem to rely on her for anything, while Gracie’s George relies on her to have the talent and make the money. (And Gracie, in turn, relies on George to have good business sense…and do the housework.)

Here, have some demonstrative episode recs….

1948-10-07 Kleptomaniacs: George becomes convinced that Gracie is the compulsive thief who’s been stealing from local stores.

This is the point when George Cooper would have sat Liz down for a lecture (and maybe a spanking, for good measure). George Burns, though? He worries about her — considers that maybe he’s been contributing to her compulsive behavior by not paying her enough attention — tries to cover for her — and, when he gets caught, pleads guilty.

Gracie, who is not the thief, hears about this, becomes convinced George is really the thief…and, you guessed it, takes it upon her own shoulders to cover for him.

1949-02-17 George Collects Alley Cats: Lots of shenanigans with cats, until the new neighbors adopt one from George and Gracie. Meanwhile, Gracie gets the idea that George is being wooed by the neighbor wife. She ends up going over and demanding him back…and of course “George” is what they named the cat.

(Gracie: “…you want to buy him?” James Mason: “Yes, I’ll give you fifty dollars!…Is he worth more?” Gracie, earnestly: “No, the price is right, but I love him!”)

And this is where Liz would have started wailing, or maybe gotten all jealous of Pamela Mason and ended up cackling with joy when something bad happened to her. But Gracie? When she hears about how “George” loves sleeping at the foot of the Masons’ bed, and is all frisky and excited about living with them, she decides that if this really is best for her husband, she’ll resign herself to giving him up.

Burns & Allen are undoubtedly staying on my hard drive for re-listening purposes. Repetitive ads and all.


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