Courtesy of CBS
In last night's episode, Charlie heads off to a wild weekend in Vegas, or so he says. In reality, he's going to get some quickie plastic surgery. While he's away, nerd captain Alan takes on Charlie's identity. He hits the bar and gets loaded with a pretty lady on his brother's tab and Jingle writing cache (really?). When he takes the woman back to Charlie's bachelor Shangri-la, he's knee-deep in lies.
Turns out this seemingly normal woman knows Alan isn't Charlie. She's slept with Charlie before, see. But she loves role-playing and clearly so does Alan. Next stop: the bedroom. Alan waits in his old man boxers for the woman to emerge from the bathroom. When she does, she's dressed in a pleather Nazi uniform that looks like a "sexy" Halloween costume for a Wiemar Republic theme party. Oh. My. God.
Covered in tattoos, ala Bombshell McGee, she wears a German military cap, and a cuff around her arm, which interestingly, replaces a swastika with a smiley face. There must be a network standards rule about the symbol like, "don't use in conjunction with a laugh-track."
"What do you think?" She asks Alan and then spits out a German word I couldn't quite make out (Schveinhold?)
"Not a dealbreaker," he replies as he prepares for sexy time.
Maybe not for Alan, but for us? I'm torn. After a few weeks of writing recaps, I'm starting to get the show. It pushes the decency envelope intentionally, and it's not always a bad thing. In fact, I'm even falling for the softer side of Alan and Charlie's brotherly love. This episode's shout out to "We Didn't Start the Fire," and other Billy Joel songs we all learned on the piano as kids, had me hook, line and sinker. And then Nazi sex happened.
Is this just another joke for shock value? A challenge to the ratings commission? A meditation on a cultural phenomenon that's in the male zeitgeist ever since Jesse James outstretched one arm and put a finger to his lips? Or is this all going too far?
While I don't think the writers' intention is anti-Semitism, I wonder how responsible it is to make light of genocide and to fetishize the militants who exterminated millions of people only decades ago--especially when religious bigotry is at a fever pitch right now.
After doing a little research, I noticed the show's made multiple Jewish-themed jokes in the past. Alan joins J-date, Charlie makes a joke about Germans invading Poland. Charlie dates a woman into dark arts who draws satanic symbol on his chest. "Does this mean I'm Jewish?" he asks.
It's all pretty harmless until you take to the internet. Multiple YouTube clips labeled "Jew" or "Jewish" replay the scene from a past season with the satanic symbol, edited just before Alan explains that in fact it's not a Jewish star but an anti-Christ symbol. Is the show treading on dangerous territory or is everything on TV prime for manipulation in the wrong hands?
Certainly, the end of last night's episode doesn't provide any answers. After Alan's sexual escapade, Charlie returns from his surgical vacation to find his brother inked with a Hitler mustache over his lip. It was just a part of the role-playing Alan explains and Charlie, who's bedded the same woman, understands. When Alan is alone, he gives the mustache a once over in the reflection of a spoon and says: "It's not a bad look. It's a shame one guy had to ruin it for everybody." Laughter. Applause. Closing credits.
What do you think: did the show go too far?
Courtesy of CBS