by Zoe Pollock

I don't entirely agree with this read on Judd Apatow's critical success, but it's an interesting take:

They strain to wring relevance out of Apatow’s pro-family message. (Who in America is against families and children?) They strain to argue for his place in a tradition. They use him as a cudgel against flawed filmmakers who are both smarter and more ambitious than he is. All the while they miss the simple moving force behind the gratuitous cameos, the accumulating in-jokes, the repeated casting of the director’s wife, children, and friends, and the constant carping about aging in Apatow’s films; they miss all the vanity. He is allowed this vanity because he delivers a message Americans crave to hear. As long as you behave yourself, take on a modicum of responsibility, and wear the yoke of commitment, it is entirely acceptableeven preferable and profitableto be stupid.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.