Sunday, November 01, 2009


Everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkey

Last Sunday’s episode of Desperate Housewives[1] included a plot thread in which Gabrielle set up an over-the-top birthday party for her daughter, complete with clown, “jumpy house”, and monkey. The economic recession hasn’t seemed to’ve had much effect at Wisteria Lane.

But, um, the “monkey”? Here’s a screen capture:
Screen capture from 'Desperate Housewives'
Sorry: that, folks, is not a monkey. It’s an ape (specifically, a chimpanzee).[2] Entirely different branches of the primate tree. No tail.

Of course, some of Gabrielle’s lines wouldn’t sound as good, if “ape” were correctly in them: “No way. I paid for two hours of monkey; I want two hours of monkey.”

Waddyagonnado? Give the lady her monkey.

[1] Yes. It’s a silly show. But I watch it, OK? Whatever.

[2] It may be a silly show, but I’m still and ever a pedant.


Thomas J. Brown said...

Wow, I'm a huge dork.

My first thought when I saw the picture and the repeated references to "monkey," was, "that's not a monkey, that's a chimpanzee!"

I feel your... Pain?

Barry Leiba said...

Thank you, Thomas. It's always good to have confirmation that I'm not the only one out there. Sometimes, I'm not sure.

Frisky070802 said...

If it helps, I too confess to the vicarious thrill of following that show, for the sheer absurdity of it.

Michelle said...

Well, to be fair to the makers of the show, it's the characters who are calling the chimp a monkey, and perhaps they felt that these people would be the sort to make that mistake... of course I didn't see the episode, so if it plainly wasn't the case, correct me. And of course, it's poss that the makers themselves might just not know the diff.

Barry Leiba said...

Good point, Michelle. The IMDB's "goofs" section has a category for "goofs that aren't really goofs, but part of the character." And I'll note that the character of the chimp's handler never refers to the chimp as a monkey.

Thomas J. Brown said...

Whenever I write a screenplay (or any story, for that matter), I struggle with whether I should write for how I think the character would say something, or if I should write what's correct.

The problem is that life imitates art, and in cases where I know better (monkey vs. chimp is a good example), I want to help people learn what is correct. At the same time, if it's not believable that the character would know what's correct, that weakens my story.

I would say that, more often than not, the character wins. That said, I do like to have "throw away" dialogue where a wiser character corrects them.

"Nice monkey."
"Actually, he's a chimp."

I've seen Wes Anderson do that a few times.

I saw a funny (if erroneous) example of this in a comic book one time (although I can't remember which comic it was or where it is now. In a box, most likely). The three main characters were arguing. One of them was the leader of a rebel army, while the other two were subordinates of his.

Sub 1: "I've had enough!"
Leader: "What are you saying?"
Sub 1: "This is a mutiny!"
Sub 2: "Mutiny is on a ship."
Sub 1: "Fine. This is a strike!"