Although I don’t watch a great deal of television, I viewed the first few episodes of ABC’s new animated sitcom The Goode Family with great anticipation. This highly socially and environmentally conscious family exaggerates characteristics of people I’ve served through my life coaching, workshops, and writing. They also remind me of myself. How would Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, portray our kind?
Helen and Gerald Goode, and their two children, live in an ultra-eco-friendly home with solar panels and outdoor gardens. My partner (Jen) and I have talked a lot about the idea of living in an urban eco-community, and our current community embodies many elements of one. Gerald rides a bicycle everywhere; we are also cycling advocates. The Goodes shop at the greenest grocery store in town; we belong to a Co-op and also like Whole Foods. The Goodes are vegan; we co-host the annual Global Vegan Waffle Party. The Goodes recycle and compost everything; we recycle and compost as well.
I almost fell off the couch when a neighbor questioned Gerald for his habit of showering inside a barrel outdoors, utilizing rainwater captured from the roof. The icon for Naked Idealism is a person standing inside a rain barrel (a barrel from our own homemade rainwater garden irrigation system), symbolizing nakedness or authenticity coupled with sustainability. However, ours is just for the garden-I still use a traditional shower…
Do any of these elements sound like you or someone you know? Are you also a star of The Goode Family?
One of the mantras of the show is, “Being Good Isn’t Easy.” In line with this, the family often struggles with just how socially responsible they’re willing to be. From time to time, we see their desires to look politically correct in the eyes of others, as well. This includes, for example, Helen Goode having a near panic-attack when she forgets her reusable cloth shopping bag at the grocery, and slowly notices that everyone else in line has theirs. Rather than risk embarassment of using a paper or plastic bag – after all, everyone is watching – she carries her groceries to her car without any sack at all. At another point, a family member stutters nervously as they try to determine the most appropriate phrase for addressing their African-American neighbor.
Many of the dilemmas the Goode Family faces are identical to those in the controversial Political Correctness Quiz from Naked Idealism. The Goodes have even wrestled with some of the more nuanced topics in the book, such as holier-than-thou attitudes within idealist or cause-driven groups. Perhaps I should send the Goodes a copy! Maybe I’ll also suggest that they add a little fun to their lives by throwing a vegan waffle party.
In short, the show has reminded me of several key points that may also apply to you or a “Goode” person you know:
- There’s always room to laugh at ourselves a bit more, which is a good thing for anyone who takes the world and its problems very seriously.
- It’s about doing what we feel is good, not about looking good – unless we’re doing the latter to set an example, educate others, or put ourselves in positions where we can have more positive influence.
- While it’s fine to set high standards for ourselves, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much trying to be perfect.
- Being good, or leading a life in line with our values, doesn’t always have to be difficult. It may take time to change habits, and we need to stretch our comfort zones at a rate that works for us.
- When we try to create change, we’ll always face some level of misunderstanding and negative feedback. We need to focus on the positive and have fun as well.
In the meantime, I admire the Goodes, and all the people I know who remind me of them. Perhaps I’ll see you on a future show!
Dave Wheitner is a strategic life coach and consultant in Pittsburgh, PA who welcomes phone-based clients from around the world.