Why ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ Is Actually a Socialist Master c/o VICE

I loved this show, and I think this analysis is thoughtful and intriguing.

I grew up thinking Malcolm in the Middle was a zany show about four quarrelsome brothers and their parents. Re-watching it now it’s clear what the show is actually about: the idea that meritocracy is a sham, social institutions are corrupt and wage-labour is cruel. The parents, Hal and Lois, have a comically carnal relationship, which I didn’t really understand when I was young. It’s a way of protecting themselves from the vicissitudes of capitalism. All the characters are condemned, in one way or another, by the world that surrounds them…

… In the beginning Malcolm’s family are in debt, perpetually stressed, living in a house that’s falling apart. A typical image is Hal and Lois sitting at a kitchen table littered with bills. Lois doesn’t have time to go beyond the basic demands of the roles expected of mothers – cleaning clothes, scrabbling together lunch – since she’s keeping up a low-level service job in a drugstore. Hal works a white-collar clerical job in an office. It’s the kind of unproductive, pointless job capitalism makes up just to keep people miserable. He does so little work it’s at one point discovered he’s never turned up on Fridays, going on day trips by himself to places like Seaworld – a radical refusal to work if there ever was one…

It’s become obligatory recently for critics to end reviews by attempting to integrate pop culture into the contemporary political climate – an impulse that has, at times, felt over-laboured. But as politics becomes increasingly senseless, it’s harder to detach it from culture at large. Completely immersing myself in Malcolm’s world, I have such sympathy for their lives that I can’t help but wonder how they would fare in Trump’s America. Probably not well.

Then I had a scarier thought: what if they voted for him?

Read the full article here.

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