Entertainment

Johanna Schneller: Our Cartoon President is Trumped by the venality of its subject

Making the U.S. president look nasty and ridiculous is too easy — for one thing, Donald Trump got there first, writes Johanna Schneller.

Talk show host Stephen Colbert believes the new animated series Our Cartoon President will offer some “shared catharsis” by offering humour from the headlines.

Handout / Showtime

Talk show host Stephen Colbert believes the new animated series Our Cartoon President will offer some “shared catharsis” by offering humour from the headlines.

The Show: Our Cartoon President, Season 1, Episode 1 (TMN)

The Moment: The greatest hits DVD

Donald Trump (voiced by Jeff Bergman) is nervous about delivering his first State of the Union address. To console himself, he slips a DVD labelled “Campaign 2016 Greatest Hits” into the player.

He watches himself (the footage is real, not animated) deliver lines like, “He’s a war hero because he was captured,” “Such a nasty woman,” and “They’re rapists.”

“When did I lose my way?” cartoon Trump muses. “It’s these Washington losers, with their, ‘You can’t say that,’ and, ‘You can’t put a mini-fridge in your bathroom, it would be unhygienic.’”

He turns back to the DVD. The clip in which he mocks a disabled reporter plays. “You gotta see this guy,” actual Trump says, cruelly flapping his hands.

“That’s the real Donald Trump,” cartoon Trump says fondly. “That’s the guy who’s going to win the State of the Union.”

It seemed like a promising idea — an animated Trump satire from Stephen Colbert and company. I’m all for reminding people of every outrage this U.S. administration commits, from Mike Pence’s hypocrisy and Trump’s misogyny to their human-rights violations and environmental degradations. I don’t want to fall into rage fatigue.

But this show reminds me of something the Second City performers once said: They could never do a spoof of the sitcom Laverne and Shirley, because anything they did just looked like a real episode. There’s no possibility for satire with Trump, because everything he does and says is self-satire.

So this series just makes you sad, with a bitter aftertaste, like you drank cold coffee grounds.

Johanna Schneller is a media connoisseur who zeroes in on pop-culture moments.

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