Thursday, November 21, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mad About You' - Paul and Jamie Get Into an Argument That Starts Small But Builds Into a Big Thing in 'The Toothpick'

Spectrum's Mad About You - Episode 8.04 "The Toothpick"

Jamie spins out when one of her meticulously crafted scrapbooks documenting Mabel's childhood disappears. Meanwhile, Ira shocks everyone (himself included) when he asks Lucia to marry him.

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 Spectrum's Mad About You.

"The Toothpick" was written by Matt Tarses and directed by Betsy Thomas

A fight over something small is rarely about that one tiny thing. It's eventually about something much larger in the scope of the relationship. That is not a novel idea. And yet, it allows this show to truly reflect a relationship as it evolves over the years. It's perfectly healthy for couples to fight. They don't have to present as Ira and Lucia all the time. Those two are madly in love and are affectionate all the time. Paul and Jamie point to it still being relatively new for them. Of course, it's enough for Ira to question if he actually wants to get married again. He swore it off after his last divorce. But now, he sees a bright future with this woman. His life is perfect. It only implodes when he tries to make it into something more. It's not necessary for them to get married. He has to be absolutely sure before asking that question. He isn't. Everything eventually turns out right for him. He takes Jamie's advice and maintains the perfect relationship with Lucia. That's perfect for him. Meanwhile, marriage has always been important to Paul and Jamie. They may fight a lot of the time. However, genuine compassion does exist between them. Sure, it's outrageous to watch the show continually point out just how crazy both of them are when they are interacting with others. Mabel sees her mother as exhibiting obsessive behavior worthy of study in her psych class. Meanwhile, her father is inconsiderate to the point where he isn't completely able to accept responsibility when he makes a mistake. He has to open up his studio in order to ensure an executive screening of Lucas' movie goes well. He doesn't show up which creates more problems. He isn't a part of the system that helps uplift filmmakers. Instead, he is too caught up in his personal drama to be all that effective at his job. Sure, it still seems like a small staff where it's only him and Yasmeen. He has just ruined a relationship with a productive filmmaker being hired for major projects as well. That's business he won't be able to win back. Elsewhere, Jamie is convinced that she has to digitize all of her old scrapbooks detailing Mabel's youth before she goes back to work. She has a plan for having Tonya supervise her therapy sessions so that she can finally complete her license. That was the goal she had for her life before she decided to stop and focus solely on being a mother. She absolutely needs an activity to give her purpose once more. Otherwise, her obsessive behavior may only intensify. Mabel pops in just to point out the problem that her mother clearly has. That should be obvious to the audience before that fact. It is clear to Paul as well. And yet, he loves Jamie and will indulge in whatever she wants to do. He believes that he has had to put on a front in order to avoid creating conflicts in front of Mabel. He allowed Jamie to always be right just to ensure no drama was created. That's a false premise he uses in order to delude himself into believing that he has equal standing with his wife. She may not always be right as some are quick to point out. She has her issues and failings as well. She doesn't think of her husband as inconsiderate. That's just the way that Paul internalizes the fight they are having. Her saying that he never thinks to ask if she wants what he picks up for himself is actually her believing that he is oblivious to her needs in the world. That may be true in some instances. They are able to joke about it together by the end of this episode. That highlights how all of this is fundamentally healthy to their marriage. These fights may pop up from time to time. However, they don't boil up into something that could be absolutely devastating to their union. Yes, things are changing with Mabel out of the house. She is still frequently coming over to pick up scrapbooks and give her laundry to her mother to do. But everything can still be seen as functional and perfectly fine. This is the first episode where that quality shines throughout the proceedings. Sure, it's still awkward and horrifying to see some of the actions that are taken. But that too may prove that these are fundamentally flawed people just trying to make things work to remain happy in life.