Monday, December 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'F Is For Family' - Frank Tries to Be a Kind and Nurturing Parent for Once in 'Frank the Father'

Netflix's F Is For Family - Episode 3.09 "Frank the Father"

After bailing Kevin out, Frank tries a new parenting tactic. Maureen's shot at TV fame hits a snag. Bill weighs a big decision.

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.

"Frank the Father" was written by Bill Burr and directed by Olivier Schramm

Frank is a deeply flawed man who doesn't fully understand the extent of the damage he has inflicted on his family. He is an alpha male who demands everyone does exactly as he says. He is spinning out trying to handle everything that is going on in his crazy and chaotic life. This is the episode where everything comes out with some pretty devastating consequences. Frank has been yelling at his children since they were born. That's simply how he expresses himself. He's a man who will let you know exactly how he's feeling. Oftentimes, it's in explicit detail that only further traumatizes the individual on the other side of the issue. He is a firm believer in bottling up one's emotions. That's the reason why he yells. After a lifetime of trauma inflicted onto him, he has people who need his care whom he can release it all onto. That's not healthy in the slightest. In fact, it is so dysfunctional. He would absolutely love to yell at Kevin for getting arrested because he foolishly tried to rob a liquor store. Sue points out that that's what he's been doing for all of Kevin's life though. It led them to this current situation. So, it may be better to try a different tactic now. Frank is willing to change as well. He takes this opportunity seriously. He wants to be seen as the kind and nurturing parent. Perhaps, that's the way for his children to respect him and actually fall in line with what they should be doing with their lives to help the family. However, he doesn't give an honest shot at it. He has one moving and personal conversation with Kevin. And yet, his son fears that this is just a new tactic for his father to ridicule and abuse him. That's all he has ever known from Frank. He doesn't trust him to suddenly be a new person now. There always has to be some ulterior motive that will eventually shame him for what he has done. In fact, it's Frank essentially repeating the pattern of abuse that he learned from his father. Frank doesn't have a close relationship with his father because he belittled him and embarrassed him as a child. It was so horrifying that he felt the need to run away to the military in order to escape. He ran away to an even more messed up situation. He continues to do that now. Instead of being there for his children as they deal with their difficulties, he has to go to the hospital to see what Chet has to say for himself. Frank yearns for clarity as to why Chet became such a horrible individual who targeted his family. And yet, there was never going to be a good enough explanation for Frank. Chet doesn't have that self-awareness to know why he's a monster. He just delights seeing others in misery. Even when he's in a hospital bed, he hurts Frank. That's the energy that this puts onto him. It's the same energy Frank puts into his family as well. So, it shouldn't be surprising at all to see it once again produce a moment of pure anger and vitriol against Frank.

This episode is a culmination of everything that has been developing this entire season. Kevin doesn't know who he is as an individual. As such, he's lashing out at his parents for not supporting him and feeding him with that information to begin with. It's not the right response to have. It's the one he's having though as a teenager who wants to blame his parents for everything that is going wrong in his life. Meanwhile, Maureen wanted to believe that her winning this game on Hobo Jobo's show would lead to her being recognized with great honor in the family once more. She doesn't like being ignored and forgotten. That's the energy she has gotten used to over the summer. She understands that it will only get worse when the new baby arrives. However, nothing she could have done would have won back her father's attention and admiration. She will always be his princess. And yet, he has no idea just how passionate she is about this show and winning this game. He thinks he can just forget to watch it and it would be no problem whatsoever. Maureen is the one who performs well in the ring toss too. Philip's entire family is watching him fail. But Maureen doesn't walk away with a prize because Hobo Jobo reveals himself to be a cheap and manipulative individual who doesn't really care about any aspect of this job. He only allows kids to win if he actually has the prizes to hand out to them. He doesn't now and that means he and his sidekick get beaten up by Philip who finally lets his rage out. And yet, it's Bill who has the largest reaction amongst the family. Things have gotten so bad for him that he thinks it would be better if he just ran away to Pittsburgh with Bridget. She is such an abusive individual who treats him poorly in this relationship. He deals with that physical pain. And yet, it's the option that allows him to leave his family for a potentially better life. It's a decision that many in his family understand. They just don't understand the profound sense of loss until reading his goodbye note. None of them realized just how difficult Bill's life had become. Even now, they still don't have the full picture. It just leaves the family profoundly broken heading into the season finale.