Sunday, December 2, 2018

REVIEW: 'F Is For Family' - Things Continue to Go Wrong for the Murphys During a Lake Trip in 'Summer Vacation'

Netflix's F Is For Family - Episode 3.07 "Summer Vacation"

The family's summer trip to a lakeside cabin takes one vexing turn after another, and Kevin relives a traumatic childhood moment.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's F Is For Family.

"Summer Vacation" was written by Valeri Vaughn and directed by Olivier Schramm

This is a very crowded episode. As such, it's not quite as effective as some of the previous ones this season. There is simply a lot going on - with the Murphy family going on vacation, Sue's parents coming for a visit, Frank pushing everyone away, Frank and Sue having a fight but reconciling again, Goomer living in the Murphy house and further teases about Chet. It's busy and that means that some of these plot points are fairly underdeveloped. The arrival of Sue's parents is the inciting incident that forces this vacation to take a drastic turn where Frank runs the risk of pushing everyone away. And yet, parents are such a vital plot point that can really add a new dimension to the characters the audience knows. As such, the show deserves to do more with Sue's parents than the one-note plot devices that they are here. Even in that regard, Sue's father has more to do because he's very critical of Frank. Sure, Sue's parents present as progressives who are upset with Frank for knocking up their daughter before she could finish college. However, they are fairly cruel as well because they are estranged from their son who is clearly gay. All of this promises to pack a lot of drama. However, it's crammed into the middle portion of the story where the vacation was already going horribly and was bound to push Sue and Frank past their breaking points anyway. It was always obvious that they wouldn't be able to delay this fight until after they got home from this vacation. Moreover, it can be true that Frank and Sue were projecting some of their own feelings and fears onto Chet and Nguyen-Nguyen without undercutting the seriousness of that particular story. Just because they've come to an understanding that they've been bottling up their feelings about the new baby doesn't mean that Chet has a healthy relationship with Nguyen-Nguyen. The episode confirms that at the end. However, that only comes after the beat where Frank and Sue discover that Chet has actually followed through on his promise to complete the new baby room. That makes it seem like he is a great guy. That's a sweet gesture that he does that stands in contrast to what Goomer does when the Murphy family is away. That's also the difference between a story that occurs onscreen and one that doesn't. Sure, Goomer's story once again features a wife being completely naive and ignorant in order to get a laugh. That can be a too frequent joke in this show. But it's still amusing watching Goomer pretending to be Frank while also being extremely creepy too. It's clear that he has major problems that he is just choosing to ignore. Of course, it's strange how he is living in the house and doesn't have an awkward run-in with Chet while he's also there building the baby room. Of course, Chet only does that in order to get back at Frank and Sue for making him apologize and pretend that his marriage is okay. He calls the city so that they have to deal with the consequences for this unsanctioned action. That's an intriguing tease. But it's also one that makes Chet into a more obvious villain who needs to be handled before the season is over. And finally, the Murphy children are all trying to find a way to move on and be noticed in the world. However, they are all flailing around with none of them being able to gain much attention no matter where they go. They may not be cursed. But they certainly don't feel special at the moment either because they fear they are nothing more than boring and ordinary.