Sunday, October 27, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mrs. Fletcher' - Eve Sends Her Son Off to College and Begins Exploring a New World in 'Empty Best'

HBO's Mrs. Fletcher - Episode 1.01 "Empty Best"

On the day before her son leaves for college, Eve Fletcher has to deal with some inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Brendan runs into an ex-girlfriend at a party.

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 HBO's Mrs. Fletcher.

"Empty Best" was written by Tom Perrotta and directed by Nicole Holofcener

Sex is viewed almost as a taboo subject that people should be very tentative when discussing. It's an act of pure intimacy. However, the subject matter has grown much more complex and nuanced across the years. The rise of porn is viewed as an every day behavior by millions of people. It's so commonplace that a guy called into Eve's office about his elderly father watching some in a public area doesn't see what the big deal is. He treats it as something that everyone does. Eve may have an objection to that assumption. She operates as a woman who hasn't felt sexualized or desired in a long time. She simply had to remain focused on raising her son as a single parent. Her ex-husband still calls from time-to-time. He is still seen as an absentee parent though. Eve is the one who shoulders all of the responsibility and blame for how Brendan ultimately turned out. The audience should absolutely be critical of her parenting as well. Brendan operates as a toxic young adult who is cruel to his high school classmates and believes his college days will be full of partying and sex. When Eve tries to talk to him about the importance of being nice to women, it feels too late. This is a conversation that should have happened a long time ago. Now, Brendan leers at women's bodies. He operates with seemingly only one thing on his mind. That may be the way he is conditioned by the world. Porn is so readily available. It's completely normal to him to send a picture of his genitalia. In fact, that comes across as charming and even convinces his ex-girlfriend to come over for some farewell sex. Eve views her son as someone who no longer extends any love or appreciation towards her. She is doing all of this work so that he is prepared to move into his college dorm. Meanwhile, he's off partying and sleeping half the day away. He may be in for a rude awakening when he arrives at college. And yet, Eve continues to feel condemned as the woman not allowed to get emotional about sending her only child off to achieve his own future. When she goes online, she is bombarded with stories about the way that it should be done. She is told what being an empty nester should be like as well. However, it's a bunch of vague advice. Her friend, Jane, tells her that she should find a hot younger man to have sex with. She may achieve that goal by the end of this premiere. However, intimacy and desire is a lifelong journey that may constantly be evolving. Eve has lived a fulfilling life. It's in the midst of changing at the moment. She doesn't want to be defined as Mrs. Fletcher. And yet, that's the title given to her at her work and by the people who interact with her as Brendan's mom. She just wants to be Eve. Of course, she has to figure out who that person is as well. She finally feels free to explore herself. She no longer has to be beholden to her child and the past. She can live for the future. Her vision of freedom looks different than Jane's. She views a writing class at a local college as fun. It's an adventure that gives her something new to do. It's a new experience. People shouldn't shy away from new opportunities. They can gain a valuable perspective on life that way. Eve and Brendan have been fixed in certain roles for a long time. Brendan's classmate, Julian, may be right to call attention to the fact that college will be a struggle for him. It may not be as freeing and easy as he has been led to believe. And yet, the world is complex and full of people experiencing new things. Eve is told she should be watching porn. The images startle her at first. They don't for long though. She is still intrigued. She may play into that outside in the world as well. That is perfectly acceptable. She is in control and deserves to be at the center of her own story. These personal relationships just seem destined to clash because Julian happens to be the guy she is flirting with in her new class.