Imagine a Blond Sugar-Free World With No Black People In It
If I were a white person suffering from Black Lives Matter fatigue, there probably would be no better streaming comfort food right now than Welcome to Plathville. I just finished watching the entire series over two nights, and it might be the whitest thing I’ve seen on TV in my life — or at least since I caught a few bits and pieces of Tiger King on Netflix earlier this year. #WhiteAF would be an equally fitting title.
The seven-episode TLC series celebrates the specific brand of whiteness I’ve come to associate with phony, holier-than-thou conservatives — but viewed through the prism of recent national events, I wonder if it’s actually meant to be making fun of it. The Plaths are blindingly white and blond without an ounce of soul. As I made my way through the first season (belatedly, since it premiered in 2019), I gasped, I laughed, and I cringed. And guess what: I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
I’m not sure whether it was the trainwreck factor or all of that impossible blondeness — the Plath sons, in particular, sport a white hair hue I never dreamed was achievable without the help of a bottle — but I found the show strangely fascinating. In fact, I even related to some of it. As someone who grew up in an ultra-religious family and didn’t see my first film in a movie theater until I was 13 (Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan in 1982 — E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was next), I could relate somewhat to the sheltered upbringing of the Plath kids.
But strict as my parents were, they never came close to crossing the line into the ascetic territory of Mom and Pop Plath. They’ve banned sugar, soft drinks, TV, video games, any music except classical and gospel, and pop culture from the family household in Cairo, Georgia (which is in south Georgia, about a 45-minute drive from Tallahassee, Florida). Perhaps not surprisingly, Internet access is limited and closely monitored: Only the mother Kim and her pious 15-year-old mini-me daughter Lydia have the password.
Kim and Barry Plath epitomize the type of hypocritical modern conservatism that holds the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms sacrosanct…