The one immutable law about TV sitcoms is the show should never leave its usual setting. Sex And The City’s worst episodes were when Carrie went to Los Angeles and ooh la la! Paris, where les franais were trs rude but the croissants were fantastique. That cultural insight looked positively authentic compared with the trip to Abu Dhabi in the second film, where the girls were terrorised by swarthy men and befriended by alluring ladies. This is what happens when a show forgets its appeal is rooted in a particular place, and when the scriptwriters have apparently never been abroad. Suddenly its site-specIfic references are swapped for national cliches even the makers of National Lampoons European Vacation would reject as a bit obvious.
Which brings me to the forthcoming episode of Arrested Development Goes To The uk, AKA Trumps state visit. In a plot twist no one saw coming, Trump is bringing not just Ivanka, the daughter he once said he would date If they weren’t related, but his less date-able adult children, too: Donnie Jr, Eric and TIffany! Trumps daughter with second wIfe Marla Maples is not a regular character, so its exciting when she makes an unexpected appearance. Sort of like on The Cosby Show when Lisa Bonet would come back from college, AKA shooting the sex thriller Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke. I’m not insinuating TIffany is up to something similar, but I bet shes having more fun than her half-siblings.
The Trump family’s overlaps with the Bluth family from Arrested Development have been the one consistent thing about them: there’s the shady, property-dealing father (George/Donald Trump); the stupid son desperate for his fathers approval (Gob/Donnie Jr); the amoral daughter who mistakes her own idiocy for genius (Lindsay/Ivanka); and the son who seems even dumber than the other one (Buster/Eric). I once thought Jared Kushner (also coming to London) was Michael, the one son trying to hold the Bluths together. But he is clearly Tobias, the moronic son-in-law, so maybe TIffany is Michael. Well find out on this trip when she stops her father pussy-grabbing a minor royal.
Although TV shows always go wrong when they go abroad, they go especially wrong in Britain. Parks And Recreation, The Simpsons, Friends: all excellent shows, all instantly unwatchable when transplanted to SW1. Interestingly, they all went wrong in exactly the same ways, because there is a cliche checklist American sitcoms must follow: cringe-tastic appearances by random British celebrities; the obligatory sightseeing montage; scene in or outside Buckingham Palace; American character having a romance with British twit. So while it might have been dispiriting to watch Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry mug it up with Sarah Ferguson and Richard Branson (just your typical slice of London lIfe), it is helpful in preparing us for what will happen on this state visit.
Donnie Jr: Good one, Dad!
The batsman [Boris Johnson]: Care for a spot of bish bosh, Mr President?
Trump: I am actually the greatest Cricket player of all time.
An outfield player [desperate to join in]: Yes, he is! [Oh hi, Piers Morgan.]
Ivanka [cooing]: Ooh, thats Big Ben! And Madame Tussauds! And theres Windsor Castle lets go see Meghan and Harry.
Jared: Apparently theyre, er, busy.
Back at Buckingham Palace, President Trump greets the Queen.
The Queen [gripping her handbag]: Did you have a pleasant journey?
Trump: Ever been on a private plane? Mines the greatest in the world.
The man [Tom Hiddleston, staring Englishly into her eyes]: Of course. But care to share a pot of Earl Grey with me first?