Wednesday, July 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'Family Reunion' - Moz and Cocoa Decide Where They Want to Raise Their Family in 'Remember How This All Started?'

Netflix's Family Reunion - Episode 1.01 "Remember How This All Started?"

The McKellans head to a family reunion at M'Dear and Grandpa's house, where Moz, Cocoa and the kids consider a simpler life away from city comforts.

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 series premiere of Netflix's Family Reunion.

"Remember How This All Started?" was written by Meg DeLoatch and directed by Eric Dean Seaton

This is a rough episode of television. Nothing about it seems natural. The pacing and the delivery all come across as stiff. There are absolutely some interesting themes at play here. The execution just isn't there. This is a 34-minute premiere. And yet, it really doesn't do a great job at all with introducing these characters and explaining to the audience why we should care about what happens to them. Instead, it's mostly just going through the motions to explain why the McKellan family is willing to move back to Columbus, Georgia after spending 15 years in Seattle to support Moz's football career. That's the basic plot function of this premiere. It doesn't even take up that much time in order to set it up. And yet, the rest of it feels like filler. Moz and Cocoa have four children and only one of them has a distinct personality. That's a significant problem. Moreover, there is nothing unique or interesting about Jade. She is just your typical cliche teenage girl who is annoyed and embarrassed by the rules that he parents make for her. She rebels and gets caught. It's suppose to be amusing that Moz and Cocoa also get caught sneaking back in with her. But that mostly just lends itself to the idea that the show aspires to be a conversation starter about the differences amongst the generations. Moz and Cocoa's children are being raised differently than how Moz was. And yet, they both aspire to get back to this family community because they see its benefits during this family reunion. They have an entire culture in this community. Sure, the show makes it seem as if this family only fits in with each other. Without them, they would be completely clueless on how to be a black person living in America. That's awkward and weird. The show doesn't even lean into that idea either. The McKellan family could continually be faced with the question of if they are black enough to their peers. Instead, the show is more pleased with delivering jokes about how Jade has a lighter skin tone than the rest of her family. That's really the extent of the depth afforded to the situation here. That's unfortunate. Plus, it then all pivots around the illusion of Jade being spanked by M'Dear. Moz and Cocoa don't really present as people who stick to their convictions and actually know how to be parents. Instead, they are just flailing around doing whatever feels right in the moment. That's how they react when they catch Jade at a party. That's also how they react when they decide to move back to Georgia. They don't bring that idea up to anyone within their specific family to discuss the potential benefits and downsides. Instead, they just unilaterally decide that it will be good without really considering how it could impact the lives of their children. They just give blanket support to the idea that being around family will be healthy no matter what. That just means they are back in an environment that appears to go against their moral values. M'Dear and Grandpa shame Cocoa and Moz for not taking their children to church. And then, they also judge them for not punishing their children. And yet, that doesn't give M'Dear the right to take justice into her own hands. It's all played for the comedy. Plus, it features M'Dear and Jade actually conspiring together to fool everyone. But that's not a rewarding payoff that should have anyone encouraged about what may happen in the future. It just proves that this is a simplistic and broad show that doesn't really want to go into depth about the current struggles of this community. Loretta Devine can make anything work. She is putting a lot into this performance. And yet, that may not be enough to encourage anyone to keep watching in the hopes that things will become more cohesive in the future.