Thursday, May 9, 2019

REVIEW: 'Better Things' - Frankie Speaks Out About Inherited Anxieties Across the Family Generations in 'Get Lit'

FX's Better Things - Episode 3.11 "Get Lit"

Sam chaperones and Frankie slams.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FX's Better Things.

"Get Lit" was written by Joe Hortua & Ira Parker and directed by Pamela Adlon

Sam is a proud and loving parent. She beams with joy at seeing the accomplishments of her children. She is also incredibly disappointed when they just casually make a mistake without any real consideration for the other people in the house. Sam wants her children to be aware of the world around them. She wants them to be considerate human beings. And yes, they do have compassion and an awareness of how the world works. They have been raised by a woman with progressive beliefs and the willingness to let them explore whatever they are interested in. It's so much fun to see Sam chaperone a trip to a slam poetry contest. It's such an infectious atmosphere. But it's also fundamentally an art form in which people can speak eloquently about the issues facing them today. When these teens are up on the stage, they talk about cultural expectations and perceptions in a way that is invigorating. They are speaking out in a way that shows just how creative they all truly are. It inspires hope in the next generation. But it's also such a pivotal moment when Frankie and her group get up on the stage. It outlines so much that has been at the heart of the season. Frankie is calling it out for exactly what it is. Parents often tell their children little white lies. It doesn't matter what kind of household they grow up in. That parenting practice is all too common. It's something that transcends identity. There are more and more opportunities for parents to disengage from being active partners in the raising of their children nowadays as well. That can foster an environment of uncertainty and anxiety. Frankie speaks out about the actions and beliefs that are passed down generation to generation even if they often go unspoken. This season has highlighted Sam's general issue of confronting her shortcomings. She mostly just wants to survive each day without having to tackle the most difficult and emotional elements in her life. Sure, she still comes home to a family that doesn't appreciate everything she does for them. But she also struggles in talking about her lingering issues with relationships. She believes she has kept those concerns private. And yet, Frankie hears her crying to herself in the bathroom. She knows it's about her father or some other guy. Sam wants to make the easy choice in avoiding these confrontations. She is still more than happy to speak up when she believes that someone else is in the wrong. She yells at Max and her friends when they leave a pipe on the front steps. She is right to do so because these young adults don't consider the damage drugs could do to Frankie or Duke. When it comes to discussing Xander though, Sam has always just avoided the conversation with her kids or just told them that everything would be fine. They get the advice from a medium that the girls should treat their father as a friend who has let them down instead of the man who gave them life. It would be healthier for all of them. And yet, they all have lingering issues in this regard because so much in life has gone unspoken. Children pick up on all of those details which has led to them yearning for more out of life as well.

In the aftermath of the big performance, Sam would just like to give Frankie a big hug and go out to celebrate with her. She doesn't care that Frankie is hanging out with her friends. Sam just beams with pride as a mother whose daughter created something beautiful and powerful. She knows that Frankie's sharp edges can hurt a lot of the time. She is a teenager who has always lashed out. That's not something new that the medium is just now picking up on. Sam still loves her unconditionally though. She is concerned about her too. She wants to know why she isn't getting back on the bus like the rest of the children on this field trip. But then again, the season hadn't even previously pointed out that Frankie is in high school now after skipping a grade. She is so smart and intelligent. She pushes against the conventions of the world. She challenges what her mother says. That can be healthy in any relationship. It can't be the only thing to define it though. But it's also the way in which mother and daughter are similar. They push each other away because it's difficult for them to accept love and understanding in their lives. They aren't as free as Phil is. The grandmother in all of this just wants to get high with a bunch of college-aged kids. To her, it's just a good, fun time. She even offers her unsolicited advice about how these kids should better present themselves in society. Sure, that plays directly into the criticisms that come up during the slam poetry. It's all about trying to appease other people instead of being one's authentic self. That can be absolutely suffocating. Phil has that freedom. Meanwhile, Max is constrained to being on lookout for her mother to ensure that she doesn't yell again about smoking in the house. Instead, Sam mostly just goes up to her room after seeing her house empty for people who welcome her presence. Sure, she may be asking a lot of her family. She can be a lot to handle most of the time. She does so because she cares and is invested in the future of her children. She wishes to give them their best opportunities for success. She gives them a lot of freedom as well. She doesn't know everything that is going on in her children's lives but trusts them enough to make the best decisions no matter what. They do feel comfortable confiding in her too despite her anxieties. Sam has been struggling with change this season. And now, she may actually have the willingness to confront some of her issues head on if she take Frankie's lessons to heart. That's a big if though.