There are many great questions faced by mankind. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What will become of us? But none more important than….will Deadshirt Music Editor Julian Ames like it?. Each month, foremost Julianologists Mike Pfeiffer and Max Robinson will wrestle with this important query, with Julian Ames as Judge, Julian and Executioner. This is …But Will Julian Like it?
Mike: [Looking at cue cards, giggling to The Roots] So the uh, haha, the Dukes of Hazzard have been in the news lately—[Questlove shakes his head at me] and it got us thinking, it is insane that there were like seven years where everything was wood-paneled and CB radios and Good Ole Boys touting uh, “Heritage Not Hate” on their stock cars.
Max: I don’t have any emotional attachment to this show, I didn’t watch it growing up or anything. I hadn’t even seen a full episode until it came time to write this piece. But the conceit of The Dukes of Hazzard, boys being boys doing extreme stunts and clowning on a fat bureaucrat, is Extremely Mike And Max’s Shit.
Mike: …But Will Julian Like It?
THE SUBJECT: THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, SEASON 1, EPISODE 7 “LUKE’S LOVE STORY”
Julian: I only know a few things about The Dukes of Hazzard and they are the following:
- Lots of car jumps
- The main car is a racist
- Daisy Duke started a fashion craze
Isn’t there also a policeman who chases them around? Why? Is the car haunted by a rebel general and he’s just trying to catch it and set the spirit free? Are the Good ‘Ol Boys, the Dukes, not so good after all? I guess I’ll find out.
Despite that second fact I listed, this show aired in the era of color TV—surely the Civil War/racist iconography is merely set dressing and doesn’t affect the characters or the plot in a way that could take me out of all the car jumping action, right? I expect I won’t love it, but will at least be amused by all the wacky automobile hijinks.
Mike: The synopsis for this episode can’t be put better than it is on the DVD packaging: “Luke’s rival in the Annual Hazzard Stockcar Derby has million dollar legs and a lead foot…and she’s got his heart revved up! But Boss Hogg worries about reclaiming the trophy ’cause his mama’s ashes are in it.”
Max: I wasn’t surprised by the prominence of the confederate flag, but I was completely blindsided by the non-stop sexism of this episode of Dukes.
Mike: You know that part in every Mad Men where Don wakes up in like a thick sheen of sweat and a white t-shirt? Imagine if he looked like that and then went into the office and still said the same horrifying shit about A Woman’s Place. Max, knowing that this is your first time in Hazzard County I put together a primer to make understanding everyone’s role in this episode a little bit easier in a format that we’re more familiar with.
Max: It all comes back to Cooter. This is the first full episode of Dukes of Hazzard I have seen and I was impressed by how much straw they stuff in this thing to get it to 40-something minutes. If this was the TV show equivalent of a cheesesteak it’d be like 90% bread with a thin sliver of “stock car race intrigue/wood panel bar room brawls.”
Mike: Yes, this is Subway’s $5 The-Civil-War-Was-About-States’-Rights footlong.
Max: My official position is that Julian will not like this. Beyond the obvious element of CONFEDERATE IDOLATRY, Dukes of Hazzard was a popular show in a time when most TV was just people yelling catchphrases at each other. People were…dumber, then. The things Julian likes—cool fashions, funny jokes, surprising plot twists—are not present in “Luke’s Love Story.”
Mike: It has a lot of stuff Julian explicitly doesn’t like, even. People getting covered in oil, half-broken sunglasses, a general vibe and production quality that suggests a community theater version of Oklahoma! that really went off the rails when a meth dealer got cast as Curly. There’s a good twenty minutes of this episode in a dive bar set made of plywood where cutoff dungaree patron saint Catherine Bach a.k.a. Daisy Duke has to go through a series of button-mashing quicktime events to do sick comebacks to sexual harassment from rednecks.
Max: A key part of Julian canon is his love of Butts and, brother, this show is practically breastman Soviet propaganda.
Mike: Tom Wopat’s Luke Duke spends a long time just sort of doing donuts in a cool mustang with a braless Roz Kelly, who played Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days, so for a brief moment maybe there’s something here for Julian. This moment has its head dunked back under the water a little later when he spends a while getting his boner metaphorically whacked with a newspaper by a bearded man in a nightgown (Denver Pyle as Uncle Jesse), which is exactly the sort of thing that keeps us from going out in Brooklyn too much.
Max: Most damningly, “Luke’s Love Story” doesn’t pass the patented, industry-standard Ames Test (a named character plays non-bongo drums for longer than five seconds).
Mike: Not a drum to found. It’s just plinkety string music all the way down. It kind of presages the goofy “doop-da-doop-da” drunk girl reality show music, because ten seconds before the start of every fight scene a banjo instrumental creeps its way into background. You end up feeling like Mumford & his Sons are the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Max: Julian will not like it.
Mike: Julian is going to send us an angry text in the middle of watching this. Julian will not like it.
Mike: Well Julian, was this a “Yeehaw” for you or a “Consarnit?”
Julian: That certainly was…a television program. You guys were right, I did not like it.
Mike: Alright then, a little game of Boff-Marry-Kill it is! Ready, boys? Boss Hogg, Cooter, Uncle Jesse. You can’t say none.
Julian: Boff Cooter, he seems like a wild man. Kill Boss Hogg, the rich guy who wears all white all the time? No thanks. That Uncle Jesse is wifey material!
Mike: I’m switching the last two. I’d boff Cooter down by the crick, then kill Uncle Jesse in a whiskey still “Accident.” Boss Hogg offers the sort of security you only get from a man who cosplays as a hard-boiled egg every day.
Max: Kill Cooter. Marry Cooter, Boff Cooter. In that order.
The Balladeer: That Max is sicker’n a hound dog that got into the Taco Bell dumpster. Y’all come back now, y’hear?
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