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La Salle de Bain

by E.T. Lee

Before I proceed with this essay, I would like to point out that this is not a statement expressing any real wish to see that part of The Monkees' pad, Instead, this subject is something that intrigued me to semi-seriously think about and to write about.  And it's NOT a totally disgusting issue, scroll down to the paragraph before the conclusion.

        I have been a fan of The Monkees¹, both the show and the music, since the later part of the 1980s.  With the power of the internet, I have also been able to be in contact with other Monkee fans.  I have heard a few fans speculate on the subject of The Monkees' bathroom on the television series.  I have seen it briefly mentioned with Head, a movie that centers around the lead characters.  I wondered why the writers or the producers have excluded the actual bathroom from the television show.  This essay will show the Western connotations associated with a bathroom and the connection it has with "The Monkees".

        It is common knowledge that the bathroom can disclose habits and/or personalities.  For instance, there is a commercial on television for an overnight laxative where the sister of the hostess reveals her findings after searching the medicine cabinet.  It was supposed to show the viewer that the hostess is a smart shopper, and has a bout, now and then, with constipation.  This situation reminds me of something that my mother told me about guests.  The two places in a home that a guest bases the personality and lifestyle of the host(s) are the bathroom and kitchen.  This is because they are the two places the host(s) occupy more frequently, if not most of the time.  It is probably also because snooping takes less offense there, than say, the underwear drawer in the bedroom.  This common knowledge extends to the motion picture as well.

        In the first script draft of the 1968 movie, Head, there is an early scene in the Monkees' bathroom where the lead characters review themselves in the mirror.  They take a hard look at themselves after being evenly rejected by a girl all four have just kissed.  Each Monkee views himself in different costumes in hope of finding himself.  Aside from the technical reasons, such as the bathroom being the only place with a large enough mirror, the main reason why The Monkees view themselves there because it gives a bulwark impression that this scene is personal, and, in a way, shelters the Monkees from the rest of the world.  It contrasts the mood in the Monkees' first season episode, "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers", where three of the Monkees view themselves in a large portable mirror by the kitchen.  This scene is not personal because they are simply getting dressed to be kidnapped².

        What is interesting is there are other situational comedies that
do incorporate bathrooms into the episodes.  "Leave It To Beaver" ran from 1957-1963, was centered around the Cleaver family, especially the younger son, Theodore "Beaver".  Although rarely used for serious moments, the bathroom was frequently seen on the series.  Coincidentally, the show was aimed at teaching lessons to its young audience.  "All In The Family" is another situational comedy that was laced with serious discussion of issues of the time.  This series not only had a bathroom, but had a flushing toilet that was used to boot.  "Full House" and "The Brady Bunch" were also comedies which had bathrooms shown, and, yes, incidentally touched on concerning matters of different levels.  It may seem that the running theory is that comedies with considerable lessons have a bathroom knitted in its episodes, whether for comedic or serious reasons.

        "The Monkees" was one of those comedies that was not aimed at giving life's lessons in each episode's plot.  In fact, this series' comedic format was derived from classic slapstick comedies such as The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers.  Even though The Monkees were molded into heroes who defended the innocent against evil³, one could not exactly say they made a majority of their viewers into much better people than before.  Although, it could be argued that the show was good at prevention than action.  All this analyzing leads us to the exact question "Where is the bathroom in the Monkees' Pad?".

        The bathroom has been mentioned in the original series.  In "Monkees a La Mode", Mike gives reference to the bathroom when asked for their "style".  In "Monkee See, Monkee Die" Mike complains to the landlord that "the moat overflows".  These statements imply that there is a bathroom, and most logically it is not one of those large restrooms with multiple features which all tenants share.  Nonetheless, it is probably more logical to say that in essence, there is no bathroom in The Monkees' pad.

        The lead characters are not exactly based on reality.  They are always looking for a steady job, whether it is musical or not, and yet somehow managed to not be evicted from their house!  They come across vampires, a magic monkey's paw, an alien, old-fashioned pirates, and doppelgangers!  Definitely a far cry from "Leave To Be Beaver", and "The Ozzie and Harriet Show".  The episodes contained many references that it was just a television show with a filming set, writers, directors, and scripts.  A studio set usually has a restroom, and how similarly revealing can it be compared to a bathroom?  Thus, the bathroom could be generally accepted as an unfocused element of "The Monkees" because of the show's made-for-laughs motive.

        Before I conclude, I would like to point out that I have been discussing about the "bathroom", not the "restroom".  Restrooms are usually associated with public establishments such as restaurants, bus stops, grocery stores, etc.  Restrooms for the most part are not personalized to give an in-depth look at a character, who usually does not own the restroom.  Although, there has been moments when a restroom have been used as a sanctuary when a character is confronted with a personal issue.  Bathrooms are generally decorated and personalized in the host(s) tastes.  Thus, this essay should be liberated from any residual repulsion.

        In conclusion, the bathroom is a more personal room of any apartment or house.  By any given chance, a guest could try to learn about the hosts living in the complex just by taking a look in the bathroom.  In the film industry, when the bathroom is shown on the screen, there is an implied understanding that the characters should be considered human than just plain fictional.  "The Monkees" did not include a bathroom because it did not comply with the fast-paced, made-for-laughs show.  If the series completed their second season and was approved for a third, the bathroom could only be included provided that "The Monkees" were more focused and serious, and still considered a situational comedy.  The best examples for this format would be the episodes "I've Got A Little Song Here" and "Success Story", where a lead character or more are affected by issues that the common man may or may not face.

Text and La Salle de Bain Logo © E.T. Lee, 1999, 2000

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1 Started out as a television situation comedy during 1966-1968, but extended to music with gold awarded records and live concerts.

2 "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers" was about The Monkees wanting to get "kidnapped" in order to gain publicity in order to win a contest.

3 They helped uncover several scams, battled against The Devil, helped a number of people from being oppressed or kidnapped, stopped pirates, etc.