Political dramas may be a thing of the past ladies and gentlemen, bring in the political comedy! Perhaps “Alpha House” cannot reach the standards of “Veep” but I was happy to finally see a comedy that doesn’t rely on small jokes and slap-stick humour. The subtle, nuanced comedy, that reminds me of the naïvety and plot line humour of “Arrested Development”, proves that “Alpha House” is intelligently and thoughtfully laid out and definitely noteworthy. Even though I may not have been laughing out loud, my funny bone did take notice, not only for the fact that I can align myself with the Democrat-Republican-smoke lens this show is obviously directed through but also because the characters within the show are laughable…in a good way.
“Alpha House” stars John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos as four Republican senators sharing the same house in Washington, D.C. Four grown men in one house is not the only thing that drives the comedy however. Each character has a charming yet debilitating problem or personality trait that makes them, however caricature-esque, subtly funny in their attempts at politics. All four senators, a hot-headed senator from North Carolina, a ‘Don-Juan’ Senator from Florida, an emasculated Mormon Senator from Nevada and a stylish wanna-be-‘hip’ Senator from Pennsylvania, all living under one roof and skirting the rules and proper etiquette of the political world makes for one funny show.
“I may be a loose-cannon but at least I don’t shoot blanks”
John Goodman’s character is a “loose-cannon”. Remarks are made of his sizeable stomach, touchy temper and poor politics. He understands politics like he understands basketball, for which he was a coach. He thinks of debates and town hall appearances as players and ‘plays’, otherwise he is clueless. His dismissiveness towards working hard to maintain his position as Senator is emphasized through his size. At first I wasn’t impressed by John Goodman’s character. The whole shtick of ‘it’s funny cause he’s fat’ is not funny for me and is overdone. Thankfully as the season progresses his cluelessness about politics and his stick-like overbearing wife help balance out any of the unfunny.
Oh Mr. Senator…
Clark Johnson and Mark Consuelos, Pennsylvania Senator and Florida Senator respectively, also provide a humour and awkwardness that adds a wonderful dynamic to the we’re-too-old-to-live-together house. Both Senators are the most in-touch with the political world and are the smartest of the four. Mark Consuelos plays the Florida Senator with ladies in and out of his bedroom, an immaculate hairline, tan, pecks and political ambition. Along with the other lady-less senators we hear his successes in the ‘Oh God!’s coming from his bedroom. His Don Juan ‘powers’ provide a contrast to the rest of the senators, making the house seem hilariously like a high school locker room at times. Clark Johnson on the other hand tries, through his attempts to set up his assistant, to be ever so ‘cool’. Although he tries to stay in touch with the black community, his failed attempts rack up.
My favourite character is the Nevada Senator played by Matt Malloy, and from episode one he struggles with the challenging task of seeming manly. “Alpha House” made sure to pull out the big guns in having Stephen Colbert appear in episode one as Malloy attempts to prove his manliness by wrestling with him. Through many failed public attempts Malloy, a mouse-like, fashion savvy, devout Mormon, finally proves his muscle when the four senators visit Afghanistan as part of a publicity stunt. Over dressed in unnecessary safety equipment Malloy shakes and stutters in fear that something bad is going to happen. Ironically Malloy is a victim to an explosion sustaining minor injuries to his leg. Coming home he is seen as a hero, this accidental publicity stunt has people shouting ‘hero’ at him while he responds blissfully under many doses of morphine.
Ultimately, this show satirizes the political world, more specifically the republican political world. Amazon has created not only a nuanced comedy with a solid story-line but also has a perfect mix of main characters that keep their audiences coming back. Although it may not have me laughing out loud, as season one went on I felt more and more like I was watching something intelligently thought out. “Alpha House” is nuanced and defiantly noteworthy in my book.