Monday, August 23, 2010

Life lessons from The Suite Life

If you've ever watched the Disney Channel shows The Suite Life of Zack & Cody or its successor, The Suite Life on Deck, none of what follows will come as a surprise. The series have been a big success for Disney and its teen stars, and the shows' reliance on tired stereotypes hasn't gotten in the way of making money. Here are a few things Suite Life's young viewers have learned over the years:
  • It's not at all creepy for 12- to 14-year-old boys to hit on older girls and young women. Why, it's completely understandable!
  • Black men make great butts of jokes—especially if they work in the service industry and have to wear rather silly uniforms.
  • Corollary: A Latino man is also a rich source of humor if he works in the service industry and must wear a silly uniform. Bonus: Accents are funny!
  • Single women of a certain age sure are pathetic creatures, what with not having snagged a man yet. Their dire straits are all-consuming and they lack other interests. (Single men of a certain age can just keep on keeping on, though.)
  • A country girl from the farm may be sweet, but she's bound to be incredibly dorky and fixated on farm animals.
  • People in other countries are weird. There's not much to be learned from them because they're either exotic or eminently mockable (mostly the latter). Bonus: Accents are funny!
  • Color-blind casting is great, because you can hire an Asian-American actress to play a Paris Hilton type. And her Asianness need never be mentioned. She probably doesn't even know she's Asian. She dates white boys, which is fortunate because the show has already met its Asian quota and cannot cast any others.
  • All teenagers are heterosexual. And also virgins, but no one will discuss that.
  • Kids who blow off schoolwork are much cooler than smart kids who want to learn.
  • Parents are largely beside the point. They're best kept thousands of miles away.
  • If an 8- to 10-year-old prince visits, he'll expect to marry an older teenage girl, whose wishes are irrelevant. She'll likely need a boy to intercede at the last minute to save her from marriage to a prepubescent child.
(Yes, I know it's been ages since I posted anything, but I felt the world needed to know this. My fondest hope is that Suite Life's writers or producers will read this, have an epiphany, and retool the show so that it's not so unremittingly stupid.)