Come On, Let's Go.
15Mar/112

Berlin, You Knuckleheads

So, I grew up Jewish, and the grandson of a World War 2 veteran. This means that, for as long as I can remember, World War 2 has been everpresent in my life. Originally, all I knew was that there were the Russians (that's us! the good guys!) and the Germans, and that I was never, ever supposed to draw swastikas (I drew a lot as a kid) -- even if it was on the bad guys! Otherwise, the government would take my family to jail. I may be misremembering that last part, but I was definitely and harshly scolded for drawing swastikas at some point, pre-America.

My fifth grade teacher was a Holocaust scholar/activist so around then I also got a big, real dose of what happened outside of the fighting. Every kid got this brand-new -- schoolbooks were rarely, if ever, new -- copy of a book about the Holocaust with a picture of an wartime atrocity on the cover and a whole lot more inside. And you had to do a report on it.

Repeat that through growing up, through Jewish summer camps and trips to the Holocaust memorial museum and Anne Frank and Life is Beautiful and god-knows-what-else and I can honestly say I am done with Holocaust history. I've had absolutely enough. I fervently avoid books, movies, whatever, having to do with the Holocaust.

All of this is a rather awkward lead-in into this recent discovery. Conceived as a "lost tape" series (in roughly the vein of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, but blamed on the Americans, naturally) Heil Honey, I'm Home is an absolutely bizarre example of what was happening with sitcoms in the era of Married With Children. It will not surprise you that it was cancelled after exactly one episode.

I have to say, though, it is amazing. The theme song is pitch-perfect Leave It To Beaver saccharine. Hitler has a working-class accent and breaks the fourth wall. Long-suffering Eva refers to him as Schicklgruber and mentions his previous career as a "housepainter," a joke Mel Brooks also used in The Producers. Hitler, even when he is not in a sweater-vest, is decidedly un-Hitlerian, laughing and dancing and admitting to Eva that "you were right and I was wrong." Lines like Eva's offhanded "Adolf will kill me" -- she reveals to her fellow housewife and friend Arny Goldenstein that Neville Chamberlain is coming for dinner to make sure "Adolf isn't hiding any tanks or battleships" -- have an incredibly dark bent to them.

There was no way this series was going anywhere. Attaching the most artificially wholesome period of television to one of history's blackest souls yields a great gag, but isn't meant to last. However, as a single-episode artifact, it is a piece of work. I can see why my grandparents and their generation would absolutely despise this, but I can't.

   

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