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On The Crew, Kevin James seems afraid to embrace what life is like for today's working-class white guy

  • From The King of Queens to Kevin Can Wait to his new Netflix NASCAR-themed workplace sitcom, James shows there's a major flaw in his decades-long persona, says Joseph Longo. "For all his insistence that we continue to care about every iteration of the working-class white guy, James refuses to show us a nuanced portrait of this type of man, still relying instead on played-out gender jokes and failing to demonstrate the repercussions of these actions," says Longo. "Almost every gag delivered on The Crew — laughing at the idea of two men dancing together, mocking the female office manager’s height, dating the CEO of a company sponsor — would warrant an HR violation, except that office manager and HR director Beth (Sarah Stiles) delivers just as many jabs. Most concerningly, James stays apolitical: His everyday guys talk shop and locker-room talk, but never politics, which seems wildly out-of-touch with a time when it’s this exact demographic who are being increasingly radicalized by the alt-right. It’s hard to imagine James’ NASCAR garage, as depicted on The Crew, not uttering the name 'Trump' when his team is ridiculing the neurotic Persian chief engineer for cowering to their hated female boss, or when whining about that same female boss partnering with a fake meat company. If James is supposed to be the real American on a show that makes a Pledge of Allegiance joke in the first two minutes, he’s oddly unconcerned about how his target audience likely views the state of America." Longo adds that "the simple answer to all of this is marketing" -- James likely doesn't want to turn off people by being political. "As such, it’s understandably easier for James to stay away from politics," says Longo. "His own political beliefs aren’t easily found online, which today is more telling than it is uninformative, but it also jibes with the format of The Crew, where the mile-a-minute humor of multi-camera comedy historically normalizes identity jokes, like pitting a misogynistic young race car driver against an intimidating female up-and-comer."

    TOPICS: Kevin James, Netflix, The Crew, Kevin Can Wait, The King of Queens