Last night’s episode of Anderson’s House: The Debates was perfectly timed for Canadian Thanksgiving. Aunt Hillary, Uncle Bernie, and their three wacky kids, “the cousins,” came by Anderson’s place, and boy did things get lively over dinner.
Aunt Hillary was in top form. In previous episodes, she’s shown she can be a little stiff at family occasions, and recently people have been saying she tries too hard to be the life of the party. But time has clearly mellowed her; before dinner, when Anderson kept bugging her about whether she was progressive or moderate, she stood in the kitchen, simultaneously calculating the temperature and time needed for warming up the casserole, fixing Lincoln Chafee’s askew tie, and fielding work requests on her iPhone. She looked around at her work and then stared right at Anderson and said, “I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.”
“Aww shit,” said Martin O’Malley, the handsome favorite son, peeking in through the dining room. “Mom told you, Anderson! Mom, can I have a reward for my support, like maybe the Vice Presidency?”
“Mom, where are the birds again? I love those birds!” said cousin Lincoln Chafee, the son who’s “not all there” (he did once spend time learning how to be a “farrier”).
“We’re eating them for dinner,” said Aunt Hillary.
“Nooo!” cried little Lincoln, clearly distraught.
“I shot the chickens,” said cousin Jim Webb, the one who is a giant asshole. “Their blood ran across my shoes.” Everyone backed away slowly, as Aunt Hillary sighed. Where had she gone wrong with that one?
Uncle Bernie stayed pretty grumpy throughout the whole episode, as always. He spent much of the dinner slamming his Manischewitz glass on the table until his shoes were as stained as Jim Webb’s and ranting about the “millionaires and billionaires,” who were ruining everything.
“Sure, honey, I hate them too. We all hate the billionaires,” said Aunt Hillary, discreetly texting a few billionaires to make sure they were still cool.
The episode reached a new level of verisimilitude when Anderson asked his aunt and uncle where they stood on democratic socialism, socialism, and capitalism. Uncle Bernie fumed about casino capitalism while Aunt Hillary, who was feeding scraps to the dogs, straightening Lincoln Chafee’s jacket, patting Martin O’Malley on the head and calling him “good boy,” and simultaneously providing a first-trimester abortion via telecam, chimed in to say she wanted to “save capitalism from itself.”
Similarly, when Black Lives Matter came up around the table, Uncle Bernie demonstrated he’d learned a lesson since the last family reunion, when he told the neighbors who brought up the subject to be quiet and wait until he’d finished talking about the Koch brothers. The man may be a crank, but I guess even he knows how to listen sometimes. At this point, Jim Webb was just launching into a story about this prank he pulled on his buddy “of color” in military school, but Aunt Hillary wisely put her hand over his mouth.
The testiest moments around the table came when the discussion turned to guns and Aunt Hillary’s email problem. Uncle Bernie may talk like a true New Yorker, but his time in Vermont has clearly gone to his head. He loves his “sportsmen” neighbors a little too much and didn’t take too kindly to being labeled soft on guns. “STOP SHOUTING ABOUT GUNS. IT WILL NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM!” he bellowed.
“Dad, um, no one is shouting,” said Martin O’Malley, gently. “You’re actually the one shouting.” Then young Martin looked at the camera, winked, dragged a comb through his silky locks and said, “Imagine me as the next Joe Biden.”
“Wait. Did someone say guns?” asked Jim Webb, pulling out a concealed handgun and brandishing it at the table.
Without batting an eyelash, Hillary reached over, took it from him, and tucked it into her skirt waistband. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I made sure it wasn’t loaded before I left. I’m tough on guns.”
Lincoln Chafee’s lips began trembling. “Mom, it’s time to go home,” he sad. “I’m tired and confused by all these people.” But Anderson, who was putting out dessert, had one more question to ask Aunt Hillary. It was about her emails. Fortunately, Uncle Bernie was there to field the question.
“This entire family is sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” shouted Uncle Bernie. “Pass me a slice of that pie, please. But make sure it’s an equitable slice, no less than the billionaires’ and no more than what any other hard-working American gets.”
“Oh, Bernie,” sighed Hillary. “You’re crazy, but just the right kind of crazy for me.”
They exchanged parental pats on the shoulder. Both Aunt Hillary and Uncle Bernie left Anderson’s house pretty confident that they and they alone had the upper hand in the family. But there was an ominous note before the credits rolled, as Jim Webb took out a slingshot and hit the family dog on his way back to the car.