Tuesday, November 27, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Kids Are Alright' - Mike and Peggy Have a Serious Conversation with Eddie and Wendi in 'Behind the Counter'

ABC's The Kids Are Alright - Episode 1.06 "Behind the Counter"

Mike comes to the conclusion that Eddie is being sexually active and takes it upon himself to give him enough advice to work things out. Peggy disagrees with how Mike handled the situation and they argue over how much they should interfere in their children's lives. Joey and Timmy attempt to disrupt Frank's plan to do free yard work so that they can go back to getting paid.

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.

"Behind the Counter" was written by Tom Hertz and directed by Matt Sohn

Even though this is a show set in the 1970s, it's all told with the hindsight of the best and worst qualities of the decade to a modern audience. At times, it's been annoying to see the show try to shoehorn in an overall message about how the struggles of this time can still be applied to the modern world of 2018. But here, it's fascinating to watch as the show uses that energy to have a conversation about sexual consent. It makes sure to hit all of the ridiculous notes while still respecting its characters and ensuring that they are being responsible with the decisions that they are making. Sure, Eddie and Wendi may still be reckless because they come to the conclusion that they are responsible enough and have a secure enough relationship to have sex. It comes after an episode in which Mike and Peggy are trying to warn them about the potential dangers and sin of the act itself. But at least it's all centered around a conversation between the two actually in the relationship. They are the ones who have to jointly come to this decision that it's something that they want to do. That is such a powerful message because it shows how this conversation should happen. Sure, they may take the wrong lesson from it by believing that being mature enough to have the conversation together means that they are strong enough to have sex with each other. That may not ultimately be the case but it's still liberating and empowering. The same is also true for Peggy's realization that she can initiate sex and enjoy it just as much as Mike does. Everyone has to assume that these two have a happy and healthy sex life. They have eight children after all. In fact, there is already the fear that whenever they actually have sex it could lead to yet another pregnancy. That may be nothing more than the audience's reaction to knowing just how fertile they are though. But it too offers a strong message that sex doesn't solely have to be about male pleasure. It's an act between two people who should both be enjoying it because it's the most intimate that two people can get with each other. Peggy sees it as the enlightened mindset of a younger generation. And yet, it's advice that she quickly acts upon as well. Plus, Mike quickly picks up on the signals that she is sending. This isn't some story where he is ignorant of her desires. He understands perfectly and even enjoys getting this validation that he is right from time to time. Moreover, it's ridiculous that mouthwash is the thing that happens to get both of them going. That's a quirk that is unique to this specific couple. Elsewhere, the show goes to a ridiculous place with the other children as Joey wants to know why Frank would do lard work for the next door neighbor for free. There is even a bit of playful narration throughout this story as well. It makes it all seem like this is a play on the Grinch story where Joey is bound to change on this specific day because he sees the joys that come from helping others without expecting anything in return. Instead, it mostly just makes him even more cynical. He learns all of the wrong lessons and even increases the competition between the brothers for attention. But that too is a very amusing situation especially when it comes to the physical comedy of throwing lemons and Pat falling straight into Mike's arms.