This week, I am examining something new for the blog, a series I consider terrifyingly bad but its country of origin, Japan, enjoys. Welcome to the world of the Fuccons, one inhabited by plastic mannequins, whose ho-hum lives, excited voiceovers and inane dialogue not only annoy, but cause serious nightmares. Parents James and Barbara and son, Mikey’s boring adventures both enshrine and parody the 1950s sitcom world of Leave it to Beaver or Ozzie and Harriet and you know, freak out children.
Director Yoshimasa Ishibashi creates a world of surreal meets stupid—think Coneheads without the humans. For example, in one episode, Teacher Bob visits the Fuccons to talk about Mikey, but turns out to be a very strange man who uses his mother to speak for him. Five minutes later, at the close of the episode, he leaves, deciding not to stay for dinner. End of show. In another a “lady tutor” gives Mikey math lessons, the parents suspect they are getting it on, but, no, when they storm in, they realize that they are in fact making origami. What just happened? I dunno. The project ultimately most reminds me of something an art student would create with a video camera, an editing program, mannequin models, and a stash of pot. If anything is funny on pot, this could be the stoner’s Citizen Kane.
Of course, some shows are gems. In one of the non-ironically good episodes, James explains “corporate structural reform” to his family and invites them to vote on who they should “kick out.” Unsurprisingly, after the family votes Dad counts the votes and calls it a tie. But in a last reveal, we see that Dad actually garnered the most votes. Damn that patriarchy! The show is filled with moments like these, winks at the present-day viewer that attempt to show the hypocrisy and unintended irony of classic television and by extension, advertising, consumer culture, and the corporations. You know, stuff high people talk about.
Yet for me the “talking” mannequins really turn me off. I’m willing to listen to any subversive message, but in the form of the Fuccons, it still gives me nightmares. Perhaps it’s the intended effect, but there’s something creepy about a dead world filled with plastic people who declaim but never interact with each other. Maybe creepy is the keyword here, but I can’t see myself curling up with the Fuccons on a Friday night. I choose media for its escapist value, and when the world is as disturbing as the emotional vacuum of the Fuccons, I’d rather stay in my family room and confuse emotional intimacy with Roseanne episodes.