Moral Orel

Wilkie’s article on surrealism and satire in Monty Python reminded me of Adult Swim’s gone-too-soon Moral Orel. As the Pythons were influenced by the Goons with a satirical twist (214), so was Moral Orel of the Lutheran Church-produced Davey and Goliath. Wilkie notes that ‘the Pythons took their critical lead from the British literary tradition of satire which aims to point out the follies of human behaviours, predicated on Johnathon Swift’s “techniques of irony and parody”, imbued with “astringent, intelligent glee”’ (215). The Pythons also “made comic capital out of the futility of life, taking as their stock-in-trade the simple disappointments and banalities of daily existence” (216). Moral Orel parodies the Christian “middle” America in its focus on Orel, a naive Christian boy, as he misinterprets God’s will/the pastor’s sermons to comedic effect. For example, in the premiere episode, Orel misunderstands the pastor to mean that dead people sin by not praising God (because they’re dead), which leads him to conjure up the dead as zombies (through very un-godly methods) who run around naked eating people. However, unlike in the Python’s satire which ‘is too weird and zany to contain real invective that bites or to hold up a “truthful” mirror to society that calls anyone to account’ (215), the show’s satire of evangelicals does hold a mirror that calls them out. After Orel’s father catches him taking off the clothes of the zombie, he gets mad at Orel- not for making a zombie apocalypse, but for letting them run around naked. The comedic element of the evangelicals being upset for the wrong thing is funny for its irony, as in the “accidentally-socialist” twitter memes. But as it draws attention to its irony and comedy, it also draws attention to the reality of fundamental religious teachings and their effects on the people- which is especially seen in “Alone”, (Season 3, Episode 4) which explores the lives of 3 unmarried women and is more dark than comedy.

Season 3, Episode 4: ‘Alone’ (Trigger Warning- rape, sexual assault)

One comment

  1. This is so interesting! I love what you have to say about the narrative situation of the comedy having an effect on its ultimate meaning and interpretation, though I would disagree with Wilkie insofar as I believe the Python’s lampooning of particularly upper, upper-middle and middle class British society, whilst definitely zany, offers a keen insight into the ludicrousness of social rituals of those classes. I am intrigued by Moral Orel though, and would love to hear more about what the relationship between the evangelical context of the comedy and the surrealist elements might offer in terms of insights into perceptions of evangelicalism by itself and others.

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