Eli and Warner hate their dads.
Eli hates the way his dad squandered all his money and now has to live with him. Warner hates the way his dad squandered all of his money and now has to live with him. Eli hates that his father kisses him on the lips. Warner hates that his father tries to help him … but tends to ruin things instead. Eli hates that his father divorced his mom. Warner hates that his father is too much like a mournful pooch.
The only people Eli and Warner may hate worse than their fathers are—well, almost everyone else. At least, they don't care enough about them to get beyond crass and often offensive stereotypes of folks who don't share their race or gender.
'Course, that sort of insensitivity is something both Eli and Warner hate about their fathers, too.
With so much hate floating around in Fox's Dads, the sitcom is an extraordinarily easy show to hate. And it almost feels natural since the series comes from a producer who has built his career on controversy: Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy and American Dad fame.
The premise is simple: Two youngish video game developers (one single, one married) have their fathers living with them and, apparently, hate every minute of their coexistence.
I don't know how this comedy got a green light from Fox. Perhaps the network's executives are working through some serious familial issues of their own. If that's the case, we certainly offer our most sincere well-wishes—but we also wish that they would've refrained from projecting their personal pain and suffering onto the rest of America. We've all made some mistakes in our lives, but surely not so many as to be subjected to this.
Dads, we know, can be funny. Historically, television has many times turned to dads for laughs, from Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith to Bill Cosby and Tim Allen. But with this Dads, you have to wonder whether MacFarlane's ever seen any of those shows. He's clearly missed the joke. Sure, many comics today lean on snark and salaciousness and icky situations to tell a gag. But in Dads, it's like that becomes the gag.
Dads is bad—bad in every way that bad can be bad. It's crass. It's offensive. It's aggressively unfunny. It feels like some sort Frankensteinian comedic experiment gone awry—as if fifteen years ago MacFarlane tried to create a sitcom but it failed so miserably that he chained the monstrosity up in his basement. Now it's loose somehow—bursting from its prison to terrorize civilization with stale jokes and demeaning plots.
It's alive, but it shouldn't be.
Warner's father, Crawford, walks around in a towel, asking for Warner's Social Security number to further some scheme. When the towel drops in front of Warner and his wife, the older man deadpans, "Now that you've seen it, I won't be needing a towel from here on out." Eli's bed is inhabited by his girlfriend wearing lacy black lingerie. Eli and Warner force their Asian employee, Veronica, to dress up in a "sexy Asian schoolgirl outfit" to impress would-be investors. She does, revealing a good bit of her bra, and men ogle and take pictures of her. A guy sends Veronica a picture of his penis, which Warner, Eli and their fathers stare at and make crude jokes about.
Stereotyped, offensive remarks are made about Asians, Muslims and Puerto Ricans. Crawford encourages Warner to show off his gay employee. There's a joke about pretending to have cancer to cut in line at Disneyland. Eli and Warner try to market a game about various ways to kill Hitler, including one where he's stabbed with a menorah. ("What the heil?" Eli quips.) Fathers are, of course, mocked, and our two main characters fantasize that their dads will die while eating lunch together. An online porn addiction is mentioned. Warner drinks whiskey.