Thursday, November 28, 2019

REVIEW: 'Merry Happy Whatever' - Christmas Caroling Goes Awry as Each Couple Faces a Test of Communication in 'Harmony'

Netflix's Merry Happy Whatever - Episode 1.02 "Harmony"

Drama swirls ahead of the family's traditional night of caroling as Joy catches Sean in a lie, Emmy questions Matt's career goals, and Don upsets Nancy.

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 Netflix's Merry Happy Whatever.

"Harmony" was written by David Holden and directed by Pamela Fryman

It's always appreciated when sitcoms include grounded emotional moments to help further flesh out its characters. It ensures that the entire series isn't overwhelmed by the constant need to deliver punchlines. It helps the audience connect with the characters so that there is reason to laugh when they make a joke or go through something extreme. This show has the time to mine the lives of the Quinn family and their extended relatives. It can feature numerous stories that all collectively fall under the same theme. And yet, it also feels like the show is fluctuating between those grounded moments and broad character jokes. It's a little jarring. On one hand, the show wants to reassure the audience that this is a family to invest in because they are going through struggles that everyday people can relate to. On the other hand though, the mixture of tones doesn't quite seem to be working at the moment. It's still just introducing this family and what makes each of them funny. However, Patsy and Kayla are quick defined by one-joke premises here. Patsy gets emotional whenever someone vaguely makes a reference to something that can be pregnancy related. Meanwhile, Kayla is a mess because her husband has just asked for a divorce. Those are their struggles. They are out in the open for everyone to carefully navigate. However, there is nothing really driving them forward as it pertains to character evolution. It's mostly them just making broad jokes in the hopes of creating empathy. That's a lame way to tell stories. It's more effective when the pain of it all can be felt equally by the audience. Right now, it seems like the viewer is suppose to be laughing at their expense because of how ridiculous some of their reactions can be. Don understands that he made a mistake in tapping Kayla to be in charge of the caroling. She rules with an iron fist. That's a one-joke premise stretched out for far too long. There is joy that can be found from singing Christmas carols. The show even mentions how it is deliberately Christmas-themed despite the numerous other holidays set at this time of the year. But that's the way this specific family celebrates. Not everything has to be about that either. It's just as compelling to see Emmy mull a job offer while Matt tries to bring Don and Nancy together in a romantic way. Of course, it all grows more complicated because of how Don is manipulating the situation with Emmy. It would be a huge scandal if it came out that the sheriff of Philadelphia declined to charge a man in exchange for getting a lucrative job for his daughter. That appears to be a huge ethical violation. That proves that Don may not be a strong role model for anyone. He is too set in his ways. And yet, he is the one with power. He should change. He has to in order to continue being loved and embraced by the world. His children may fear him. And yet, they all rally together for this holiday celebration. They respect the traditions just as much as he does. He just creates an environment of fear where Sean worries about how Don will react to learning he has been laid off. It should be a bigger deal that Sean kept that from his wife Joy for three weeks. In this context though, it's more agonizing with Don because he has long held the belief that a man who can't provide for his family is worthless. Sure, Don is trying his hardest to always make things easier for his children. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. However, he crosses lines and meddles to the point where relationships are tested as a result. Emmy and Matt don't seem to have great communication skills at the moment. The audience may simply be asked to overlook that because it should just be given that they are a couple who want to be together. That basically applies to all of the couples. The only one who had conflict was Kayla and that's the whole basis for her story this season. It just presents as being the easier version of this particular story because it could be highlighting some more significant problems about what these individuals want from their lives moving forward.