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Series / Cavemen

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So easy, a... well, you know.
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In 2002, GEICO unveiled its new ad campaign characters: cavemen. GEICO's slogan was "It's so easy, a caveman could do it!", which would immediately offend a caveman who was just walking by. Becoming incredibly popular a few years later, ABC decided that it was enough to warrant a half-hour sitcom. However, it quickly became infamous as one of the biggest bad calls in television history as the show proved to not only be a one-joke premise that was unfunny, but also offensive as it had white characters behaving in minority stereotypes, and had the misfortune of being one of many scripted shows affected by the 2007 Writer's Guild strike. It was cancelled after only six episodes.

The series, like the ad campaign it was based on, centers on three cavemen who live in a modern apartment, as cavemen were integrated into Homo sapiens as a separate sub-group.

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Tropes from the series included:

  • Alternate History: Cavemen have survived into the present day and exist as a minority group alongside Homo sapiens.
  • All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: Joel, Andy and Nick have the appearance of Neanderthals but claim to be Cro-Magnons.
  • The Artifact: The unaired pilot took place in Atlanta, Georgia, where everyone spoke with a Southern accent. The series proper takes place in California, but everyone still speaks in a Southern accent.
  • Auto Erotica: In "Her Embarrassed of Caveman", it is mentioned that Andy's girlfriend Susan had sex with a guy in his car while Andy was at the dentist.
  • Berserk Button: Do not say "Yabba-Dabba-Doo!" around Nick.
  • Contemporary Caveman: Cro-Magnons (who resemble Neanderthals) still live alongside Homo sapiens.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: In "Rock Vote", the caveman candidate in the city council election, Red Goldreyer, believes that the presence of gluten in bread and other food is part of a conspiracy to weaken people's immune systems and poison their minds. He tells Andy that world peace can only be achieved if gluten is removed from everyone's bodies.
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  • Cross-Cast Role: In "Cave Kid", Kelly Stables played the cave boy Rocky.
  • Dead Animal Warning: In "The Cavewoman", Heather sends Nick a dead possum in the mail after he breaks up with her.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The prejudice suffered by cavemen is based on that suffered by minorities in the real world.
    • In "Andy the Stand-Up", Andy tries stand-up at Nick's open mic night and his character of a stereotypical dumb caveman, based on his uncle Roy, becomes very popular. Nick is extremely annoyed as he thinks that Andy is perpetuating negative caveman stereotypes. Andy revels in his newfound fame until he discovers that his sapiens fans think that he is really as stupid as Uncle Roy. He then realizes that Nick was right.
  • Dropped After the Pilot: Kate's father Tripp McKinney only appears in the unaired pilot, though he is mentioned in several later episodes.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: A lot of the common complaints made against the series only occurred in the unaired pilot. The premise seems to have been doomed from the start. While they fixed a lot for the actual series, the damage had been done.
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • "Magger" being used as a stand in for..... that word.
    • Some cavemen refer to Homo sapiens as "sapes" and "smoothies" (because of their smooth foreheads and comparatively little body hair).
    • In "The Shaver", cavemen who pass as sapiens are called "shavers."
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • The Swedish furniture store Nörskbild where Joel works is based on IKEA.
    • In "Her Embarrassed of Cavemen", Nick mentions a social media site called Facespace.
    • In "The Mascot", the video of Nick beating up a high school student is posted on VidzWeb and gets over 140,000 views.
  • Fictional Holiday: In "Caveman Holiday", the cavemen celebrate the ancient holiday Long Night. It commemorates the coldest night in their history 70,000 years ago when a miracle cow appeared, providing their ancestor with enough food to survive the terrible winter conditions. Long Night is traditionally celebrated by eating a whole cow and chugging green alcohol. It is against the caveman creed to turn anyone away from their home on Long Night, even enemies.
  • Friends with Benefits: In "Caveman Holiday", Andy and Thorne hook up and become friends with benefits, having wild sex at every opportunity.
  • Hiding Your Heritage: In "The Shaver", Nick becomes convinced that their new neighbor Jake is a caveman who shaves his body hair every night to pass as homo sapiens. He hates "shavers" as he thinks that they make it harder for cavemen to be accepted. However, it turns out that he is a sapiens with a prominent brow and hairy body.
  • Historical Longevity Joke: In the unaired pilot, Nick asks the elderly and slightly senile Mrs. Winston what it was like to sleep with Theodore Roosevelt.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Human history seems to have been entirely unaffected by the survival of cavemen into the 21st Century.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: The entire basis for the show.
  • Never My Fault: Nick is extremely lazy and apathetic but always blames things that are clearly his fault on anti-caveman prejudice. For instance, in "Nick Get Job", he is fired from Nörskbild as he spent all of his time slacking off, listening to music and ignoring customers. He responds by suing Nörskbild for wrongful dismissal and discrimination.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The cavemen don't live in caves anymore.
  • N-Word Privileges: In the pilot, Joel objects to Nick saying "magger" but Nick tells him that it is okay for cavemen to use it.
  • Sudden Name Change: In the unaired pilot, Joel's younger brother is named Jamie. In the series, his name is Andy.
  • The Whitest Black Guy: The unaired pilot has two of the main cavemen making fun of one working as a news weatherman for acting like a stereotypical white human. (In the actual first episode, there's a throwback with Andy exclaiming "I love this guy!" when the character appears on TV.)
  • Take That!:
    • In "The Shaver", Nick tells Andy that John Tesh is secretly a shaved caveman who got full brow reduction surgery.
    • In "Cave Kid", Nick describes Angelina Jolie as a "limousine liberal" because she is adopting a cave kid to impress her friends.
    • Also in "Cave Kid", there is a rumor that Charles Bronson was a caveman.

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