I’ve always thought that being a member of the First Family must be a pretty stressful, depressing experience. But NBC needs to do something other than what it’s doing, so maybe their forthcoming comedy about the president’s family co-created by former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett will have funny new insights. To help them along, here are five real-life First Family disasters, and their television comedy solutions:
1. Popular radio host of the opposite party insults 13-year-old First Daughter’s looks. Rush Limbaugh famously held up a picture of Chelsea Clinton while cracking, “Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” Solution: Taking the warm but misguided advice from his college buddy, Phil Dunphy, the President stands up for his daughter in a way that seems dorky and embarrassing at the time but that wins him points at home, and ultimately, with the voters.
2. President’s younger sister has a lobotomy gone badly wrong, his family institutionalizes her, everyone keeps mum. It says everything you need to know about how the press coverage of presidential races that the Kennedys basically got away with concealing Rosemary Kennedy’s intellectual disabilities and the lobotomy that left her confined to an institution. Solution: Sue Sylvester yells at the president in memory of her deceased sister with Down syndrome, leading to a Very Special episode family reunion and absolutely no character development for anyone.
3. President uses younger daughter’s beloved family pet as cynical prop during political speech: The Checkers speech. It was a thing:
Solution: Brian Griffin shows up, makes martinis for everyone, and lectures the president firmly on the dignity of humans and alcoholic dogs alike. The president later tells absolutely no one about his hallucinations of a talking dog and trusts that the discretion of the West Wing staff means no one will ask about the smashed cocktail glasses in the Oval Office, but resolves to treat animals that bear his name with more respect.
4. First Lady takes vacation that is criticized in the press as overly lavish and out of touch with the times: Michelle Obama got dinged for taking her daughters to Spain last summer, even though she paid for the trip — including the cost of her government plane travel—herself. Solution: Family Ties-style, the First Lady’s breezy family vacation turns into high state-craft when she’s accidentally entangled in an international spy caper. In the end, with help from FBI Agent Bert Macklin, she recovers the president’s rubies, making the cost of the trip totally worth it. Plus, she makes a courtesy call on whichever monarch said hijinks take place in proximity of.
5. First Daughter marries Speaker of the House, has affair with, and child by, a Senator, is a generally hedonistic, awesome (if probably pretty unpleasant in real life) gossip. Seriously, someone should make one of those goofy First Daughter-style movies about a theoretically fragile daughter of a president who needs protecting when she tries to be her own person and live a normal life, but make it about the spectacularly un-fragile, un-PC Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Solution: None, just a highly profitable spinoff that sells lots of “If you haven’t got anything good to say about anyone, come and sit by me” t-shirts.