Tuesday, November 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Kids Are Alright' - Frank and Timmy Try to Get Their Father's Attention and Approval in 'Boxing'

ABC's The Kids Are Alright - Episode 1.05 "Boxing"

Frank announces that he has decided to compete in the church boxing tournament, making it obvious that he's playing for Mike's affections. When Frank can't cut it, Timmy steps in and takes up boxing in order to bond with his dad and get his approval. Ultimately, he has to choose between his dad's dreams for him and his own dreams of showbiz glory. Feeling rusty after being at the seminary for so long, Lawrence asks Eddie to help prepare him for a date by taking him on a "practice date."

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 ABC's The Kids Are Alright.

"Boxing" was written by Jim Brandon & Brian Singleton and directed by Randall Einhorn

As noted in previous reviews, Peggy has been the parent who has received more focus and attention in the early going. Mike just hasn't had a solid presence in the main plots so far. His presence has been felt. It's clear that he is a hard-to-please father who still wants what's best for his children. He knows when to just let them do their things while also supporting Peggy whenever it is necessary. However, it's also important to see him take charge for a little bit. It's important to flesh out the relationships that he has with his sons as well. Here, it's clear that it's always a competition in order to be seen as special in his eyes. Frank is desperate for that approval here. He already has a solid relationship with his mother. Now, he continues to want to be the perfect son who can make both of his parents proud. And yet, he fails at boxing. It's not the thing that will forge a stronger relationship with his father. It still inspires Timmy to take action. He goes about doing things the exact same way. He uses boxing in order to get close to Mike. In fact, he is able to pick up the moves of the sport much more quickly. He likens it to the work that he is doing on the stage. It's just a different type of performance. But it's all about being entertaining to the crowd as well. As a showman, this is a world that he thrives in. It does create a bond with his father. It's one that they both appreciate even though they can't say that they love each other. In fact, the narrator points out that those words are never going to be said for a long time. That proves just how emotionally stunted this entire family will remain for the rest of their lives. That could be tragic. And yet, the show has fun at the expense of the characters as well. Sure, it brings everything back around to an emotional and grounded dilemma. When he is finally called on to step up as an understudy in the play, Timmy has to stand firm with that commitment and leave boxing and his father behind. Mike tries to be supportive as well. He may not always understands the things that his sons are interested in. But he can respect their passion for it. He wants Timmy to have this opportunity. Sure, he falls asleep and makes no effort to understand what is going on at all. And yet, this is still a story in which Timmy shines and is appreciated by his father. He is still in that time in his life where he is desperate for his parents' approval. That stands in contrast to Lawrence and Eddie who want to have independent lives while noting that they are forever screwed up because of their parents. They are still absolutely terrified of them as well. They will do whatever it takes in order to please them. However, they are striving for independence and the idea that they can have their own lives far away from the family. Eddie somewhat has that because of his relationship with Wendi. That is still going well. It's a bond that Lawrence wants in his life as well. He looks to his brother for advice which only points out how critical Lawrence frequently is to the rest of his family. He looks down on them a lot. However, he can rely on his brothers because they've experienced the world the same way that he has. As such, that's a bond that should last longer than what they could have with either of their parents. That too is very special and important to remember.