Turns out it does get worse than when Aaron broke my parents’ air conditioner.
During another detention, Jason announces that his parents are out of town engaging in some criminal activities. As a result, he’s having a wild party, and the whole crew is invited, save Professor Foxtrot. She’s cool with it, though, as that means she can attend some of history’s most disastrous parties. The gang, intrigued, goes with her on a tour of these hedonistic mishaps.
The first takes place on a voyage back to England. When the crown prince, his siblings, and a whole host of other nobles need to return home, they are entrusted to the son of a famous ship captain. Overconfident, this young captain proceeds to get everyone drunk. He then crashes the ship, drowning nearly all of the three hundred people aboard. If that weren’t bad enough, this accident is the inciting incident for an eighteen-year civil war in Britain.
Secondly, the group moves to France, where a royal’s third wedding goes horribly awry. Once again, a prince does something they should not and dresses up in an insanely flammable costume as an attempt at a prank. Though they forbid torches at the wedding, someone brought one anyway, causing nearly a dozen men to burn alive in suits made of, essentially, tar and feathers. We’re treated to the gruesome sight of a man’s testicles falling off before we move to our third and final party foul.
We lastly move to the Netherlands, where something is surely rotten. A popular pastime of manhandling an eel is broken up by the police, and it starts a riot. The riot is incredibly bloody and lasts for days. Eventually, it’s revealed that it all amounts to nothing, and many died for this nonsense hobby. The five return home, Jason considers downsizing his own party. Everyone else thinks that is incredibly uncool, and Professor Foxtrot abandons her students in order to attend a Roman bacchanalia.
There’s not a ton for me to say with this one. When WTF 101 decides to do a human episode, they are infinitely more entertaining and creative than their animal counterparts. Party fouls are yet another place that I would not have predicted the show to have gone, and it was—for the most part—a pretty interesting tour through history. This reveling in humanity’s excesses is maybe the thing that will get WTF 101 an identity of its own if it uses its point of difference judiciously.
I still have many of the same problems that I do, week-to-week. The one that showed up most this time around is the exclusive focus on European history. There were no crazy parties in China? None in all of Africa? I know that history may be harder to find, but the show does itself—and its audience—a disservice by not showing the global appetite for destruction. It implies that only white culture, with its multitude of accomplishments, has enough excess to do such ridiculous things. Or else, these things are atypical of the culture and thereby funny, and in other cultures could be construed as more constitutive.
Whichever the case, one thing I can no longer chastise this show for is shying away from graphic violence. The shot in the middle story of a man’s testicles falling off was genuinely uncomfortable, so congratulations to them for that one. They undercut it immediately, though, by refusing to show much of the riots in the final segment. I understand that this was both a budget constraint and a diegetic joke within the show, but the latter went on so long that it stopped justifying the choice as the former.
WTF 101 has certainly shown promise in this episode, probably more than any other. I think it’s actually going to get a good score from me this time around. It’s taken a lot of time for me to judge it as what it is: a gross-out comedy series wearing educational television skin. Sure, everything in the show happens to be true, but that’s really just the excuse to show you the kind of thing they wanted to show you anyway.
The show’s simple thesis, about the world being much more disgusting than we want to believe, only takes a viewer so far, so we’re mostly left with the creative ways the show can gross them out. If the show continues to crank out episodes as creative as this one, then, despite the thin premise, I don’t see myself getting bored for some time.