Tuesday, November 3, 2015

REVIEW: 'Grandfathered' - Jimmy and Gerald Tell a Creepy Lie to Get Edie Into Preschool in 'Edie's Two Dads'

FOX's Grandfathered - Episode 1.05 "Edie's Two Dads"

When Gerald can't make it in time for Edie's interview at the most elite pre-school in the area, Jimmy steps in to help out. But once he meets the admissions counselor (Joanna Garcia Swisher), he accidentally starts a lie that takes on a life of its own.

The plot of "Edie's Two Dads" is very uncomfortable and creepy. The show does address that fact a little bit but it doesn't adequately cover just how creepy this latest plot of Jimmy's actually is. It also does nothing to strengthen what this show is beyond Jimmy learning the same lesson every single week. Jimmy has enjoyed a wonderful bachelor lifestyle. That mentality clashes with sudden parenthood. That has created several moments of sheer ridiculousness as Jimmy doesn't know how to keep a child safe. This week that means driving his expensive car with Edie in the front seat with no child seat. That's horrifying. But it happens just so Jimmy can learn that he needs to change in order to have this family in his life. However, the events of this episode do that same lesson in a really weird and slightly off-putting way.

Jimmy and Gerald pretend to be a gay couple in order to get Edie into the fanciest preschool in Los Angeles. They want to exploit the gay struggle for their own personal gain. That's a concern that the show doesn't bring up enough - even though it makes sure that none of this actually works out in the end. But the circumstances around this lie are just too annoying and tiresome. Sitcoms as of late have enjoyed using a "getting a toddler into a fancy preschool" story. It's a very elitist story that is almost always about white privilege without the show actually being aware that that's what it's doing. This episode lives in the extremes. It's either this elite school where thousands apply and only 20 get in or the backyard of a crazy Russian lady. Those aren't the only options for preschool for Edie in Los Angeles. But it's the only two places the show is interested in exploring despite Jimmy having a book that lists all the schools in the area.

Grandfathered is largely amused with itself over the fact that a father and son are pretending to be a gay couple. It happens entirely because Jimmy is too ashamed to say that he is Edie's grandfather. The alternatives are so much worse though. He would rather be called the candy man than a grandpa. That shows just how narcissistic h is. It's gotten to the point where everyone is aware of just how far Jimmy will go in order to protect his image. It never works out for him. In fact, it only creates a mess that everyone else then has to help clean up. When Vanessa arrives at the preschool, all she has to do is look at Jimmy and Gerald and she knows that Jimmy has messed things up spectacularly. This has become a pattern for the show. It's fine because it's still the early days of its first season. And yet, it needs to start doing things differently because the result in this episode is such a mess.

And yet, the only reason why Jimmy and Gerald's charade is exposed is because Jimmy is attracted to the school administrator, Sloan (Joanna Garcia Swisher), and kisses her when she stops by the restaurant. That's the thing that breaks apart this lie. Jimmy and Gerald know all the right things to say to make sure they look like a believable couple. Of course, that led to a lot of speechifying proclaiming "it's 2015, gay people act just like straight people do." It was tired and cliche writing. The story unspools because Jimmy is attracted to every female he comes in contact with. That's gotten old real fast. It makes this story predictable on top of being creepy. That's a combination that really dooms this episode.

The only redeeming quality about "Edie's Two Dads" is Sara. Paget Brewster has been so great on the show so far. She needs to have even more focus in the future because she nails the emotional hardness of being a parent as well as the outrageously funny moments of being a part of this wacky family. Her realization that the school Gerald went to is a major disaster was a bit over the top. But her willingness to then agree with Jimmy and Gerald's big plan for the elite school was excellent - including her running out of the room because she couldn't satisfyingly answer the questions that Sloan has about Jimmy and Gerald's relationship. Again, the story was horrible but Paget Brewster made the most of it. That's something the show should focus more on in the future. Whenever something doesn't work, just give more screen time to Sara.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Edie's Two Dads" was written by Dave Jeser & Matt Silverstein and directed by Rebecca Asher.
  • It's weird that Sloan and her boss don't think it's odd that Jimmy and Gerald have invited their babysitter and next door neighbor to be a part of the interview as well. That should have been a big red flag right away that not everything is okay here.
  • Vanessa's insistence on letting everyone know that she is Barbara the babysitter was an amusing quirk. She really hasn't done a whole lot as a character yet. So these little moments are all the audience has to go off of with her character.
  • How did it take this long for the rest of the family to get Jimmy to baby-proof his house? As much time as they spend over there, it should have come up before now.
  • Also, how big a deal is Edie's preschool going to be in the future? She has been an important character who brings the family together in every episode so far. Is that going to change in the future? Will everyone have to find a new reason why to hang out?
  • It's hard to believe that Sara wouldn't have known how awful Gerald's preschool was before now. Even though she was working three jobs back then, she still would have thought something was off. The story then would have been she couldn't afford to send him somewhere else. That could have been entertaining to see too.
  • Annalise: "I'm their Kramer." Annalise is quite the scene stealer as well.
  • Sara to Jimmy: "You must really care about this. You're reading a book."