The problem with yesterday's entry is that it's based on the dubious assumption that normal people are somehow meant to find the Patterson family admirable and their adventures compelling in any other sense than that of watching a train wreck; as howtheduck said, the Settlepocalypse worked much better as the story of two obsessive freaks destroying the lives of those foolish enough to get in their way as they rush headlong into the abyss. There's another story that works a lot better if you assume that most of the principal characters are slithering, amoral filth animated by greed, entitlement and narcissism: the Housening. Let's break this down by seeing how making the characters act like human beings instead of crouching vermin takes away from the story:
- We start, of course, with Michael. A more natural, organic flow of the story would require him to be talked into buying the Pattermanse; watching him spend the last years of the first run strips wondering how long it would take for him to stop thinking of himself as living under his parents' roof despite their living in the Tiny Train House and his name being on the deed would not satisfy the needs of the story or be true to his established character. It's far truer to his irresponsible, selfish, entitled nature to sulk his way into getting what he wants, damn the consequences. It's also fitting that he ran from the offices of Portrait magazine crying because the mean man asked him to decide something; having him decide to take early retirement for the sake of his family would require him to care about their needs.
- Deanna's part in this is just as revolting; she adds her need to be martyred with her need to lord things over her mother. By moving from Lovey Saltzmann's barn of an apartment to being forced to camp out in her mother-in-law's house, she goes from one woeful state to another; since Mike hasn't got a real day job right now, the fact that the elder Pattersons are elsewhere doesn't do much to alleviate Mira's anxieties. Having Deanna be as reluctant to take over as a Mike who was recognizable as human would be would also not be true to her nature.
- John: As you know, the excuse he handed April about downsizing when they did was the best was a lie that only fooled a naive and sheltered child. All he cares about is that huge, empty plot of land next to the small house and how he can build his eyesore model train layout. His being sincere about wanting to make life easier for Elly would be so out of character that one would wonder what the stranger who said it did with the real John.
- Next up, of course, is Elly; her reluctance to move was based not on any real feelings for her house. Since she was so easily bribed into moving, it seems to me that all she wanted was to make the Housening worth her while. A person that regular people would admire would probably try to soothe the nerves of a certain confused child who labored under a rather limiting misapprehension.
- I'm talking, of course, about April; instead of simply taking her aside and patiently reminding her that her doom-laden fears about how her life would be completely changed were somewhat overblown and making their lives easier, they all assumed off the bat that she was going to be an obstruction and treated her accordingly. This, of course, was so Lynn could appeal to the demographic that wants to see teenagers get waterboarded for A) not automatically getting behind every stupid decision their parents make and B) reminding them of the grim specter of death. (As I've said before, April's being younger than John and Elly are and thus outliving them by decades is crime enough to them.) This is also why they didn't simply ship the picky-face overseas and thus remove a complication that raised pointless objections about how since she lived there, her opinion should at least be acknowledged. Lynn's people can't scream for April to be horsewhipped if she's not there to inflame them, after all.
What, of course, really seals the deal is that Kool-Aid Nation still has no idea how repulsive the Pattersons are and how ridiculously they handled the whole thing. What they see is what they're told to see. I just wish that I didn't have the gnawing suspicion that they'd react negatively if the Pattersons had behaved in a manner consonant with common decency.