Mr. Belvedere was not the kind and warm individual that he appeared to be on television. You may remember the Owens’ butler as a kind and gregarious fellow; a man of impeccable British honor, helping a suburban Pittsburgh family navigate the rigors of 1980s life. But beneath that mustache there lay a darkness.
I knew something was amiss during a recent viewing of the season two episode entitled “Strike,” in which Wesley accidentally sold one of Mr. Belvedere’s priceless Faberge eggs at a garage sale that he and his sister, Heather, had organized. Instead of focusing on the children’s initiative, Mr. Belvedere selfishly worried about losing his fortune. In a world of binary problems, Mr. Belvedere’s behavior was shameful and revealing.
Was his 1986 salary as a butler in suburban Pittsburgh not cutting it?
This revelation led me to re-watch every episode and it suddenly became clear.
He fooled all of us.
In truth, I believe Mr. Belvedere was a British operative sent to Pittsburgh with a butler cover by MI6. His mission was to spread mistrust and to discredit the sovereignty of the United States by ruining American family values. While our Government was focusing on ending the Cold War, Britain had other plans. They were still smarting over their humiliating defeats of 1783 and 1812. Infiltrating the homes of unknowing American families was their insidious way of creating suspicion and doubt from the inside.
1980s families were simple units but, in each episode, the way Mr. Belvedere lashed out at young Wesley, whose misbehavior was just some vain attempt at garnering attention from his family, was striking. As the youngest child in a 1980s home, this behavior was as commonplace as crappy wallpaper and stupid sweaters. You think Andy Keaton and Michelle Tanner were saints?
Unfortunately, Mr. Belvedere wasn’t the first British spy in the US, nor was he the last. In a brilliant move, the British created a test case in their own backyard in 1964, when maid Mary Poppins and her entitled umbrella blew into London to mesmerize children by jumping into sidewalk drawings and riding fake carousels. That American hero Dick Van Dyke was an unwitting victim makes it even more tragic.
When Mary Poppins proved successful, Operation: Jerk Butler was launched on the unsuspecting United States.
Unfortunately, this British deception continued into the 1990’s, when Geoffrey constantly tormented the normally un-tormentable Banks family of Bel Air.
There are 117 examples of Mr. Belvedere sowing the seeds of mistrust to cull from between March 1985 through July 1990. Look no further than the time Wesley tried setting Mr. Belvedere up with a female companion. Instead of accepting Wesley’s kind gesture, Mr. Belvedere shunned this female and instead began dating Wesley’s teacher. What kind of sick person does that? One who intends to sow seeds of doubt in the very family he is pretending to help.
Mr. Belvedere’s insidious infiltration has left the Owens family in tatters. George and Marsha are divorced, Kevin is in jail, Heather has 11 children from several different fathers and no one has heard from Wesley since the ’94 Lollapalooza.
That this heinous infiltration was discovered three decades too late, is a tragedy. How many families were ripped apart by their selfish butlers masquerading as kind human beings with funny mustaches and proper accents? I suppose drinking Earl Grey tea and writing thoughtful prose in their journals at the end of each episode masked their evil intentions.
As evidence of how easily Americans were duped back then, they even named the show after Mr. Belvedere.
Now, generations of American citizens, reared under the false pretenses of 1980’s family values, can’t trust their butlers. I suppose that was Britain’s plan all along.