By Stacey Harrison
Here’s where the Goodes — Gerald and Helen anyway — separate themselves from the know-nothing do-gooders the show is making fun of. Sort of. When they see that their kids are fulfilling school-mandated public service requirements by dubious means, they step in to try to show them how to do something that matters. Bliss is content to join “Costa Rica-palooza,” which purports to be a humanitarian trip to the Central American country, but is instead an international boozefest. Ubuntu, meanwhile, is led to believe that his status as a football player automatically makes him a hero, and all heroes need to do is stand in front of an elementary school class and say, “Don’t do drugs.”
Gerald once again proves the saner of the parental units, and works with Ubuntu to come up with something more substantive, something personal. But not puberty. That’s a little too personal. Helen, however, is flummoxed to learn that Bliss’ supposed legit gig cleaning up area graffiti is little more than an excuse to soak up grant money and play foosball. On the bright side, Bliss’ no-good (but cool) boss is voiced by Alyson Hannigan. So Helen goes extreme and decides to supply some work for Bliss herself. She dons a black hoodie and, under the cover of night, sneaks out to the school playground and begins tagging the brick wall. While it’s a mild annoyance to Bliss, the spray-paint art starts to get noticed by the liberal elite, who are thrilled that such an urban problem as graffiti has finally come to Greenville. A couple of young people describe it as “gang level” art, and the requisite douchebag art professor from Oxford is flown in to praise the work.
This is where Helen really starts to go off the rails. She becomes obsessed with her work as “Huggo” — it’s actually “Heggo,” for “Helen Goode,” but the public doesn’t quite get it — but is torn up that she can’t take credit for it. She even agrees when the professor, ergo the local news, depicts Bliss’ painting over of the graffiti as a racist act. Then a member of the so-called disenfranchised that the art represents, a suitably Hispanic high-school student, takes credit, making Helen apoplectic. She can’t resist, and outs herself as Huggo. All she accomplishes is being accused of misappropriating the art of the underclass and spending a few nights in jail. That’s OK, because as she tells Gerald and Bliss, she knows how to handle herself in the yard.
Ubuntu uses his mom’s dilemma to deliver a knockout speech to some grade-school students. While his predecessors spit out a couple of anti-drug catchphrases and sit down, he tells the cautionary tale of his mother, and how making the wrong choices can wreck your life. There’s not a dry eye in the house. Except for Ubuntu’s football coach and teammates, who couldn’t care less.
Gerald convinces Bliss to take it easy on Helen, who got carried away in trying to recapture the glory days of when the family would do community service together and love it. She stops by and helps Helen fulfill her own community service, and they bond while ridiculing the Costa Rica-palooza partiers as they return home, vomitous.
Points to Helen for finally smacking down Margo with a rant about her daughter being a spoiled poseur. This is also the first time the show has parodied the hypocrisies of limousine liberals without using the Goodes as prime examples. They have their flaws, sure, but so does Hank Hill. The Goodes are shrinking from caricature and becoming more common-sense characters.
Photo: © 2009 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.