Friday, November 22, 2019

REVIEW: 'Mad About You' - Paul and Jamie Meet Sylvia's New Boyfriend in 'Monkeys, Lies and Withholding'

Spectrum's Mad About You - Episode 8.06 "Monkeys, Lies and Withholding"

Paul and Jamie pay a visit to the retirement home to visit Paul's mother, Sylvia, and her new boyfriend, Ralph. Meanwhile, an unexpected visitor walks into Ira's restaurant.

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.

"Monkeys, Lies and Withholding" was written by Peter Tolan and directed by Kelly Park

Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser break the fourth wall at the conclusion of this episode. It's a moment to inform the audience that things are going to get a little more bumpy in the immediate future. It's done to keep the viewer intrigued until the remaining six episodes are released in mid-December. Of course, it's also a moment that only plays to the Spectrum customers who feel the urgency to consume these new episodes as soon as they are released. That urgency may not be huge. It may not play as well in hindsight when more people become aware that more episode of Mad About You were made. It also informs the audience that what happens next may not be the same as what has already occurred in these first six episodes. These episodes have been fairly light and breezy. Sure, there have been moments of depth. For the most part though, they have been defined by the broad humor and the need for everything to eventually come back perfectly together in the end. That's a reliable formula. It's not bad to note that that may not be the quality forever. It's only something the show can tease so much though. It conditioned the audience to watch the show a certain way in these six episodes. And now, it may be signaling that the next six may have a slightly different tone. One that may actually see some major consequences for the core family's actions. Of course, the creative team will have to follow through on that as well. That may be difficult because of the reliable comfort on display already. All of these concerns may simply be for the future. It's just one fleeting moment at the end of this episode. It's just an important conversation to have. Elsewhere, the show is highlighting the extended family interactions these characters can have. Sure, Paul complains about having to take the train to visit his mother in the retirement community where she now lives. However, he and Jamie make that trek on three occasions here. As such, it doesn't seem like too much of a burden whatsoever. It also plays into the unfortunate premise that older people don't know how the Internet works. As such, it works more when the twist is revealed that it's all fundamentally an illusion. This kind of living arrangement can allow people to fall into new identities in the hopes of reinventing their lives. They can start again. Sylvia had so much happiness and joy with her late husband. She can still have those qualities in her life even though he has died. She can be happy in this new relationship with Ralph. Sure, the comedy really centers the conversation around how children are grossed out about hearing the intimate details of their parents' relationships. Paul doesn't want to think about that with his mother and Mabel doesn't want to hear that about her father. And yet, it's a cycle of pain and misery in which it continually comes up just to make people uncomfortable. That's the overwhelming quality of all of this too. Of course, that also presents as the largest way in which the world seems terrible for Mabel. Paul tries to get her back home by leaving deceptively frantic voice messages. Nothing works until her parents try to take away the game that has always given her comfort. She uses that in order to manage her anxiety. But that too seems like a stretch. It feels like Mabel is very comfortable and confident in her life. She hasn't really dealt with any true adversity. As such, it's hard to really embrace her seemingly anxious nature as more than just a punchline that keeps everyone amused. That's unfortunate because anxiety issues are very serious. It's an important discussion that needs to occur in the entertainment industry. It needs to contribute to more than just an episodic focus too. But this episode needs to make way for Ira being disappointed to learn that he isn't Italian only to realize that he is a father and grandfather. He makes these new family connections that become immediately important to his life. That's exciting for him. And sometimes it is just better to live in that moment of reassurance and joy. It just can't be the only thing the show is interesting in doing. Otherwise, it can become extremely monotonous.