Revisiting Mad TV's 1999 skit "Pretty White Kids with Problems"

MAD TV, aired on Fox from 1995 to 2009, was an irreverent experiment in comedic genius, pushing the boundaries of cringe in contradistinction to Saturday Night Live. The 1999 skit "Pretty White Kids with Problems" has the troupe participating in a public discussion of white privilege on Fox. Shhhh, don't tell Tucker Carlson. Okay, Fox entertainment is not the same shade of white as Fox news.

MAD TV, like The Simpsons and South Park, had episodes that presaged conservative cultural formations' vulgar futures. "Pretty White Kids with Problems" reminded me of the 2020 Twitter hashtag #MyWhitePrivilege, former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown's song, "First World Problems," and the recently published book Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity by the late Noel Ignatiev. This episode could also be any movie by John Hughes, with adults playing adolescents, like Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful,The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles.

Admittedly, I'm conflating Molly Ringwald and "Pretty White Kids with Problems." Sadly, not everyone grows up, and we end up with adult versions of high school drama in everyday life. I propose a through line between this Mad TV skit and the Karen phenomenon. Is this irony, entertainment, or a nightmarish life?