Friday, October 5, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Cool Kids' - Margaret's Birthday Forces the Gang to Reflect on Getting Older in 'Margaret Turns 65'

FOX's The Cool Kids - Episode 1.02 "Margaret Turns 65"

On her 65th birthday, Margaret doesn't feel like celebrating. Hank, Sid and Charlie insist on taking her out for a "good old-fashioned young person's night" at the local club, which leaves them all feeling older - and more hungover - than ever.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of FOX's The Cool Kids.

"Margaret Turns 65" was written by Sophia Lear and directed by Anthony Rich

Even though it is Margaret's birthday in this episode, all of the Cool Kids are dealing with age and being identified as seniors in different ways. Hank is in complete denial. He believes he is just as cool and hip as he has always been. He can still do everything that he once did. Margaret is mean and drunk because of what this new designation in life means for her and all of the things she never got to do. Charlie completely accepts it. He has freedom from accepting his age and even manages to get some lucky breaks because of it. And finally, Sid doesn't have to embrace it because he is still acting like a child exploring the world. He didn't come out until later in life. So, he is still seeing the world through the new perspective as a gay man. These distinctions are very important as the story plays out. Again, it's clear that this show is aspiring to be nothing more than a fun hangout sitcom in which the ensemble comes from an older demographic. That's perfectly fine as well. However, there still doesn't feel like a whole lot of originality throughout this episode. The joke about mansplaining what mansplaining is has already been done a million times on various sitcoms with the exact same nuance as on display here. It's just a lame observation on the world that no longer works. Moreover, there is a lot of broad physical comedy that comes out of Leslie Jordan's height. First, he pops out of a large cake for Margaret's birthday. Then, he has to slide through a bathroom window in order to get the gang into this club for the evening. Both of those situations have the potential to be amusing. However, the show also has to make sure that there is more to Sid as a character than just his stature being just for a good visual joke. Right now, that seems like all that there is to him. It's always important to remember that these characters have lived fulfilling lives. They are interesting people even though they are now living in a retirement community. Margaret shares that she wanted to be a legendary folks singer. Instead, her debut label was crushed by the competition. Her career never went anywhere. That's what makes it so sweet when Charlie brings her up on the stage to perform in this club. It's a much more moving gesture than Hank's decision to share 65 shots with his friends. That's just crazy and dangerous. It mostly just fuels that final punchline of the gang being hungover during breakfast the following morning. Sure, it could be a fun running joke if the gang has contempt for everyone who works at this retirement community. But right now, that resentment mostly comes from them being hungover and not being able to tolerate someone who is cheery in the morning. Of course, the show also seems to be suggesting that Margaret's song isn't that bad. And yes, she has a lovely singing voice. That is a strong showcase moment for Vicki Lawrence. But the lyrics aren't that great. It's still mostly playing things for the outrageous humor. Again, that's not a bad direction for the show to pursue. There just has to be more humanity behind the characters' actions as well.