An Unfortunate Episode: Happy Days “American Musical”

Chachi moves on to the next topic on the list: political oppression. Fonzie thinks for a minute and decides to tell a story about someone in a small European town in 1600. This person insults the king and has the choice of going to prison or going to America. I guess he’s talking about the Pilgrims? We jump to another flashback, this time in a prison for a song about the “Immigration Blues.” I…it…what the hell is happening right now? This routine features both singing and dancing and you can tell which cast members are really into it (Henry Winkler) and who wants to renegotiate his contract for next season (Tom Bosley). Each character gets a verse explaining why sailing to America isn’t so hot—sinking ships, giant rats, poor sleeping conditions—so maybe prison isn’t so bad. So…yet again, no immigration taking place.

Next topic: cultural and social influences brought by the immigrants who have settled in America. Fonzie suggests some possible influences such as French toast from the French, Romanians from Rome, and “from the Swedens: Ann Margaret.” Chachi tells his cousin none of those are correct. The Fonz thinks a bit more and we go into a flashback to…maybe 15 years ago (in the show’s timeline). A family celebrates one year in America by infringing on West Side Story. Rather than dancing on a rooftop, Al Molinaro does a terrible job lip synching to a song celebrating his family’s ancestry. I don’t think the show realizes that piñatas and sombreros are not from the same culture origins as flamenco dancing. Each verse focuses on new opportunities discovered by the family members, followed by this chorus:

In America
Que Viva Mi America
There’s No Place to Compare it Ta 
It’s Home It’s Home to Me

Sure. Also, bear in mind that no one in this cast passes for Latina/o, so this number is particularly…icky. Chachi loves the line “que viva mi America,” so…yay?

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About Mike McComb 669 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv