Why Is This "Mandalorian" Sitcom Parody so Perfect?
Nerdist's "Grogu Pains" has cracked the code on what makes The Mandalorian so endearing.
With season 2 of The Mandalorian concluding nearly three weeks ago, fans may be starting to get desperate for more of that primo Baby Yoda content, but there's good news!
It turns out that The Mandalorian originally started as a family-friendly show called Grogu Pains back in the early 1990s, and Nerdist has just recovered the show's classic, sax-heavy intro. According to the video description, Nerdist, "dug into [their] VHS tapes and found an old episode of Grogu Pains, a wholesome '90s sitcom about a single dad and his son's hijinks, as well as all the friends they made along the way."
Unfortunately, fans who are hoping to see the rest of that recovered episode are in for a disappointment. As part of the Nerdist Remix series, the intro was "discovered" by applying a filter to some carefully selected clips of The Mandalorian at its most playful.
“Grogu Pains" – a '90s Mandalorian Sitcom (Nerdist Remix)www.youtube.com
The clip is essential viewing for fans of the Disney+ series. And the fact that the rising, triumphant repetition of "We've got it!" will be playing in your head for the rest of the day is a small price to pay for this perfect pairing of 90s nostalgia and the best Star Wars content of the current era.
But what is it that makes this combination so satisfying? Part of the fun is definitely silly jokes like Boba Fett being credited as "Robert Fett" and Baby Yoda as "Grogury St. John" (why are we 90% convinced that's an actual '90s child star?). But the fun of this clip goes much deeper.
For a start, there's the way the simple application of the VHS filter makes things like Mando jetting through the air — with Baby Yoda's ears flapping in the wind — look instantly cheesy and dated, like Dean Cain flying around metropolis. The little cast introduction clips were also expertly chosen to capture the same friendly intro-energy that was parodied in "Too Many Cooks," with Baby Yoda's little dance, and even Giancarlo Esposito's Moff Gideon offering a wry smile as he seems to notice the audience watching.
But there's also the way the charm and humor of moments like Grogu sealing himself up in his little transport pod are enhanced by the soaring, smooth jazz and nonsense lyrics like, "stranded in a world that doesn't know your name, searching for something that isn't quite the same!" Why is it that these moments feel so much like they belong to the genre of '90s sitcoms?
The answer, hidden from view for The Mandalorian's entire run, is the fact that the show about a Sci-Fi religious zealot/bounty hunter really does borrow heavily from classic sitcom tropes. What we love about The Mandalorian is not far removed from what many of us grew up with in Alf, Full House, Diff'rent Strokes, and Horsin' Around.
Grogu and Pedro Pascal's Din Djarin — AKA Mando — are a classic constructed family. An unlikely pair, brought together through chance, find out that the bonds of love and family are not defined by blood relationships.
What seems on its surface to be a one-way relationship — with the big strong protector taking care of the tiny, adorable, and mischievous child — a la Gary Coleman on Diff'rent Strokes — is revealed in flashes to be far more complex. The adoptive child turns out to be tougher and wiser than he looks, and sometimes it's Mando who needs help from his little buddy.
While The Mandalorian draws more obvious influence from the Western and Ronin traditions of story telling, there are strong elements of the '90s sitcom that Nerdist has brought to light. And maybe it's the combination of lifelong Star Wars love with classic sitcom nostalgia that has so many of us hooked on the Disney+ series.
With season three of The Mandalorian unlikely to arrive until 2022 — and no word on whether Baby Yoda will even be featured, following the dramatic finale, it's going to be a while before we get any more official Mando content. Even the spin-off series — The Book of Boba Fett — is twelve months away.
For now, this short clip of Grogu Pains will have to do. And just maybe — if we're really obnoxious about it — we can bully Nerdist into making a full episode.
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