Main cast: Jon Tenney (David Murch), Thea Gill (Jane Cleaver), Wanda Cannon (Kathy Hobart), Terry David Mulligan (Marty Clark), and Robert Picardo (Kurt Rand)
Director: Joe Dante
When it comes to political satire… no, Homecoming is too obvious to be considered a “satire”; it’s basically Joe Dante’s middle finger to President George W Bush. What’s a stronger word than “satire” anyway?
The problem when it comes to these things, though, is that I have a hard time taking this one seriously when it claims to be better than the smelly, imbecilic right-leaning folks out there, but at the same time it indulges in playground-level misogyny and other things that should be beneath it. By being exactly what it claims to give the middle finger to, this episode smacks of hypocritical, smug self-righteousness – the very thing it claims to satirize.
At the surface a homage to Night of the Living Dead, this one introduces our protagonist David Murch, a political advisor and speech writer to the POTUS. When this episode opens, many people are protesting over the POTUS sending the military to fight a “false war” over allegations of weapons of mass destruction that eventually were never found. Don’t think this episode is subtle, though – they even have a guy providing a voice that strongly resembles Mr Bush’s, and David and his squeeze Jane both talk about how the President isn’t dumb; he’s smart enough to let the stupid people believe that they are as smart as him, and that is how he keeps getting elected. At any rate, one day David says something about how if the dead troops can come back to life, they’d let America know that they support the POTUS.
Well, the next thing he knows, the dead troops come back after all. Only, they want to vote and show the POTUS just how much they think he sucks. This causes David and his team to plot to do another state-stealing stunt, but you know it is. Don’t mess with angry dead soldiers!
If Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling, etc) had been content with this singular element, this episode may still work. The performance of the cast is solid enough to make this one an entertaining one. As it is, however, it also displays a cringe-inducing level of misogyny by portraying Jane, an obvious caricature of Ann Coulter, as a lusty, scheming woman who is nonetheless mocked by all her male counterparts, including David, for being unintelligent. They make it very clear that she is valued only for her breasts and legs, and the episode also mocks her insecurities about her age and looks as well as her ambitions. David’s mother calls Jane a “skank” because she dares to have sex with men. Jane cannot win, in other words – everything about her is meant to be a joke. And yet, David who helped his party stole an election and who was responsible for all kinds of political dirt baggery is shoved down my throat as some kind of sympathetic protagonist. Why? Is it because he’s a man?
At the same time, it portrays African-Americans as saintly people who are oppressed but would still extend a helping hand to poor zombies left out in the rain.
Given that this episode is scripted, directed, and starred by white people, the whole thing feels like a very patronizing kind of virtue signaling. Still, all this would be palatable if the episode hadn’t been so clumsy and heavy-handed with its hypocritical messages while acting so smug and superior.
At the end of the day, Homecoming is too impressed with itself to realize that it’s nowhere as smart as it thinks it is.