Last night, on Sarah Silverman's new Hulu series I Love You, America, the famously liberal comedian tried something different in the late-night talk show field: she visited a family of Trump voters in Chalmette and had dinner with them.
The Standers are an extended family of crab fishermen - gun owners and conservatives who voted for change in the 2016 election. Their beliefs were varied; Brandi, the 26-year-old "matriarch," wasn't convinced that former President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, yet she was firmly in support of gay marriage and chided her father, who said LGBT people should have equal rights but stopped short of supporting the right to marry. Most of the Standers thought the Obama administration "gave away" too many things to the undeserving, yet several of them received insurance under the expansion of the Affordable Care Act. Silverman made her points known, but there was no serious arguing (and no changing of minds, either). Everyone involved seemed to enjoy the experience; they parted as friends.
It was a big change from the usual Stephen Colbert/John Oliver/Trevor Noah approach of ALL TRUMP IS BAD - and still not everyone liked it.
[jump] Some liberals were infuriated that Silverman didn't call out the Stander family on some of their contradictory beliefs; some conservatives found Silverman's drop-in dinner condescending. I thought it was more interesting than either of those takes, but here are a couple of reviews:
I struggle with this. I would not be able to let that hypocrisy go unaddressed. I would not be able to keep my cool. Even when the Standers’ 26-year-old matriarch comes out as a staunch supporter of gay marriage (Silverman lets her know that that’s a liberal thing), I know I would instead be totally focused on the dude that’s anti-gay adoption. I’m not level-headed like Silverman, a no-holds-barred standup who has somehow evolved into a voice of reason. I also don’t know if it’s right to be so level-headed around Trump voters. I can’t get past the whole voting-to-blow-up-our-planet-ness of it all, and this stuff is so raw, so personal that I actually can’t decide if it was right for Silverman to leave that dinner saying she “loves” that family.Lindsay Kornick, NewsBusters
(who is a Chalmette native):
Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the naturally condescending tone of the show as they hammer in on the family's "unusual qualities" such as teaching their seven-year-old son how to shoot, keeping nutria rats for pets, and - strangest of all - willingly voting for Trump for "change." All of this is peppered with staged audience laughter over remarks such as one family member saying about the birther rumors of Barack Obama, "I don't know where he's from." Classy. Once we're done seeing the far right family in their natural habitat like animals in a zoo, Sarah then gets to go home feeling all good about herself that she lowered herself to an average citizen's standard for a day. After all, basic decency and tolerance can be a shock to some people. Sarah, if this new show taught me anything, it’s that you are capable of constructing about twenty minutes of being a somewhat tolerant (if not incredibly awkward) human being towards people who disagree with you. This shouldn’t be worthy of congratulations, but in today’s political climate I guess it is now.
[content-1]The show ended with an in-studio interview with Megan Phelps-Roper, the former Westboro Baptist Church firebrand who eventually left the hate group (and her family) and now speaks out against their beliefs. That was a lot more interesting than the millionth Rob Reiner interview speaking out against Trump.
If you have Hulu, I Love You, America is worth a watch. Plus the premiere episode had full-frontal nudity (male and female) as well as fart jokes, so you decide whether that's a recommendation or not.