Right now on Showtime, there is basically what amounts to a Donald Trump fanfic playing as a half-hour animated comedy titled Our Cartoon President, and as embarrassing as it is, I enjoy it. I uh, really like it, in a way that finally made me understand what it means to have a “Guilty Pleasure”. At its core, I always thought the term was dumb since simply enjoying something that isn’t actively harmful to others shouldn’t produce a feeling of guilt. Like, if you know something is dumb, and you enjoy it anyways, that isn’t really a guilty pleasure, that’s just finding the passion in a sloppily put together piece of art. This show though, is a different animal, because its subject matter is the menace that sits in the White House today.
So I’ll get this out of the way, I really like Trump. Not the man, because the man is an obvious sociopath who was given the ultimate platform for which he can harm the world. No, the character of Trump on Our Cartoon President is utterly delightful, and that fact makes me so uncomfortable. He’s reminiscent of a Homer Simpson that’s more of a scoundrel but who also has an army of yes men to feed his enormous ego and play off against. His voice actor (Jeff Bergman) is phenomenal, and while the show addressed the concern of potentially humanizing the real Trump in its opening minutes, it still makes him so weirdly likable that it makes your skin crawl. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t portray him as a good person, he’s a shallow loser on the show as well, but he’s written and acted in a way where his pettiness and his capricious nature is almost endearing. Perhaps its the cartoon world he inhabits where nothing really matters, where the “appeal” of Trump is more apparent because there are no tangible consequences of his actions. I don’t know, and I really don’t wanna examine it, but here I am.
It isn’t just Trump either, the supporting cast is great as well. Emily Lynn’s Eric Trump in particular, playing a soft hearted dimwit who’s only desire seems to be to gain the approval of his dad is equal parts hilarious and endearing. Don Jr., the idiot dude-bro is funny in his earnest frathouse stupidity. Even Ivanka Trump, who is also voiced by Lynn, is amusing as they poke fun at her hollowness by basically making her a grinning distillery for vague feminist platitudes and slogans. The characters of the Trump kids are well drawn enough for me to ignore that their real life counterparts range from irresponsibly complicit, to outright cruel. The cast in general is composed of people who can be best described as morons way in over their heads but still weirdly confident, and the art style really drives home the idea that America is currently being governed by twisted husks of people (speaking of the art style, the White House itself here is really beautifully rendered, which makes the ghouls that lurk its halls all the more jarring). They even draw fun from supporting characters of people who are unambiguously evil in real life, like Stephen Miller who practices satanic rituals in preparation for his speech writing.
At its core, this show possesses a sort of nihilism, highlighted by the end credits song which is just someone singing in disbelief that Donald Trump was elected president. The world’s been flipped upside down, the President is basically a walking cartoon, so we might as well make a literal one about him right? All in good fun of course, and the show is certainly fun to watch.
Me singing this show’s praises is already starting to come off as vaguely unsettling, so its about time I go over its flaws for a bit (although they only end up making my commitment to watching the series all the more troubling). As a comedy, its weirdly paced, overlong, doesn’t have a strong throughline within episodes, and strains against its attempts at being current, as episodes contain unconnected vignettes meant to riff on Trump’s latest scandal. The point is the show is flawed enough to justify me not compelling myself to watch it, and yet…
My feelings on the show can best be summed up by a fictionalized Fox and Friends host explaining his decision not to completely succumb to the Trump Kool-Aid his co-hosts are drinking. He knows he has to love Trump unconditionally, but there is a tiny part of his mind that is screaming out to him that “all of this is wrong”. That’s where I’m at with this show right now. I’m enjoying the hell out of it, but there’s a part of me that knows this is “wrong” somehow, that I’m guilty of something. I have finally experienced what it means to have a guilty pleasure in its purest sense, and of course it had to come from the friggin’ Donald Trump cartoon.
Quote of the Day:
“Three white people on a couch, it’s Fox and Friends ♪”
The jingle for Fox and Friends on Our Cartoon President.