Last night, Fox rolled out their four-part mini-series, Republican National Convention. Much like Caprica, Syfy’s excellent but short-lived Battlestar Galactica prequel, Republican National Convention explores the events that lead up to the destruction of the literal earth. Where Caprica probed the origin of cybernetic space warriors who rebelled against their creators for enslaving them, Republican National Convention will examine the hate-fueled collective delusion that engulfs the population like a cloud of bigoted doom and causes Americans to install a tiny-fingered billionaire with Narcissistic Personality Disorder into the most powerful political office in the world. After which: global extinction.
I’ll be honest, the lead-up to this mini-series was pretty weak. The web series episode that showed Donald Trump and his running mate sitting in jewel-encrusted chairs and answering interview questions was a little too on the nose. A would-be dictator? On a golden throne? Come on. I also thought having the Mike Pence character be a cyborg was a weird choice, but it turns out Republican National Convention is ripping off more than cult classic sci-fi. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. This is episode one.
“Make America Safe Again” opens with a couple of characters playing D-list celebrities. There’s a bearded fellow with a convoluted backstory. He and his family make duck whistles? And one time his dad gave an interview to a major magazine saying slaves in the south were “singing and happy” and compared gay people to “drunks and terrorists” that God would “sort out later.” This guy says holding his father accountable for blatant racism and homophobia is “political correctness” and “political correctness” is a bad thing and that’s why everyone should elect the fascist. The next D-lister is playing a guy who played a guy who was in charge of an ’80s sitcom or something. He says the fascist they’re here to celebrate would “make America America again,” by which he means “make America white again,” I think.
Up next are a couple of characters who “go off script.” There’s a failed politician named Rick Perry introducing a former Navy SEAL whose father taught him to “die for every woman and fight beside every man.” His deal is about how the real war is “at home” these days where we have to teach everyone that “all lives matter.” And then a mom who personally holds the former Secretary of State accountable for the death of her son, who was an American diplomat killed in a terrorist attack. Which is where this episode starts to lose me. No major political party in the United States would trot out a grieving mother and exploit her pain to try to turn voters against their rival. That would be too gross to even contemplate.
And it just devolves after that, from unbelievable to absurd. There’s another character playing a washed-up actor who goes after the current president:
First of all, I don’t believe that the guy is a Christian. I don’t believe he follows the God that I love and the Jesus that I love. If you follow his story, if you read his book, if you understand about Obama — I mean, that’s not a Christian name, is it? I’ve met a lot of Christians. I know Christians. I am one, and I don’t believe he is.
And then about twenty other people saying the same thing. Blah blah blah The End is Near, the current president “let the wildfires of Jihadism go unchecked,” brown people are murdering the elderly in the streets, gay people are eating the corpses of the Christian missionaries who starved to death after they went out of business for not baking homosexual wedding cakes, Barack Obama flew those planes into the World Trade Centers, Hillary Clinton used the trust fund Hitler left her to develop disintegrator ray guns that use clean energy beams to kill police officers, Muslim children learn to make nuclear missiles in science class, and Jesus was crucified for being too white.
Okay, and then this guy named Tom Cotton, whose family — surprise! — made their fortune owning plantations in the south, promises that “help is on the way.” Right now, the Democratic Party is releasing Godzillas into the streets during every full moon to mutilate white people and ensure their impending minority status, and the current president is ordering the military to bomb seminaries and private Christian schools on the regular, and anyone who has a boy child is forced to raise him as a gay and anyone who has a girl child is forced to raise her as a shrill, short-haired, pants-wearing feminist. But help is on the way!
That help is this show’s main character, Donald Trump. He emerges onto the stage in a cloud of smoke from a blindingly bright portal of light with his wife at his side. This guy is a bad actor. I know it’s not fair to compare this show to 2016’s best mini-series, The People vs. O.J. Simpson, but I kind of can’t help it. The writing is much worse, like to the point of farce. The acting is the pits, or either this director told everyone to portray their characters as humans on the brink of becoming completely unhinged. Even the wigs are worse!
But here is the weirdest choice of all: I’m supposed to believe that these characters think immigrants were crafted in the fires of Mordor like an army of Orcs and then the headliner of this whole episode is an immigrant, who is married to the would-be dictator? These writers ripped off Michelle Obama’s speech from the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Just word-for-word. Even Aaron Sorkin doesn’t recycle his speeches this badly. And but everyone in the audience is just cheering and cheering for an immigrant after three hours of also cheering for people talking about how immigrants break into houses and steal babies and gain superpowers by drinking the blood of newborn bunnies.
Pretty Little Liars makes more sense than this and that show’s main character was pulled from her grave (after being buried alive by her own mother) by a witch who conducted her sorcery in a secret room of a sorority house, and then the main character left town in a plane she piloted herself wearing a mask of her own face with a co-pilot who was a parrot she’d taught to sing the phone numbers of statutory rapists and murderers.
That is more convincing than Republican National Convention.
I don’t know. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe for the apocalypse to actually happen, you have to imagine a world where people are so terrified by the othering propaganda of a power-grubbing egomaniac and his mob of amoral pundits that all information bypasses their logic center and lands squarely in their brain’s reptilian fight-or-flight compartment. Maybe when people are manipulated into that kind of frenzy, they lose all sense of reason and compassion and start believing everything the person who promises to keep them safe from this imaginary threat. Heck, maybe this is even some sly commentary about how white people get their power by stealing from people of color and then demonizing them.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the series plays out to figure out what’s what. Tonight’s episode, “Make America Work Again,” includes a couple of new female characters. If one of them’s a lesbian, I’ll bet you one hundred dollars she gets bludgeoned to death on stage by a stray javelin.