Sunday, October 11, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Right Stuff' - The Mercury 7 Learn How Much They Can Get Away With on Their First Press Tour in 'Goodies'

Disney+'s The Right Stuff - Episode 1.02 "Goodies"

The Mercury 7 become aware of their instant fame and the pitfalls that come with it.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 Disney+'s The Right Stuff.

"Goodies" was written by Lizzie Mickery and directed by John Coles

The Mercury 7 haven't done anything yet. NASA is still being built. Gilruth and his colleagues are stressing out over falling behind schedule. They have no place to train and house their astronauts in Florida. They are hoping to achieve this scientific breakthrough. They believe in the noble ideals of this mission. And yet, their story has become so much larger than the simple science. It has become a public interest story. These seven astronauts are singled out for being the best of the best. They are going to tackle something that no man has ever done before. They are forced to stand up proud as the best of what America can be. As such, everyone is willing to show up and offer their support long before anything is actually accomplished. They are symbols more than individuals. And yes, that applies to how the series is telling their stories as well. John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Gordo Cooper remain the only main characters with much definition to them. They are the people the story is fascinated in following. The other astronauts are simply along for the ride. There is no clarity over whether or not this is hard for them. It's difficult for Shepard to make the transition to public life. He demands his privacy. He understands that people want to sell this story. However, he wants to live fast and hard. That is his outward persona. He has a wife at home. He isn't faithful to her. Everyone knows that. He isn't trying to hide it. But he also knows that people will tell stories about him in a flattering light. He knows that he can get whatever he wants simply because he is propped up as this incredible hero. He acknowledges that it is recognition for something that hasn't been accomplished yet. But he is also more than willing to take whatever free or almost free gifts people are willing to give to him. He believes he should enjoy the luxuries of life. He doesn't have to play by some rules that some people believe dictate how a morally just person should act. Glenn has had so much training for how to deal with the public pressures of being in the spotlight. He conducts himself by always leading with a smile. He is a charismatic guy who people want to get close to. He lights up a room and can carry a conversation in an entertaining way. His presence is necessary because the other guys are so tentative about this press tour. He is a natural in this environment. He has done it all before. He helps sell the idea of why this mission is important. Every American can place their hopes and dreams on its eventual success. He boosts those expectations because he too is so eager to venture out into space. It's his dream and he is making it a reality. He still has compassion and understanding for other people though. His wife may sometimes wish that her husband was quiet and private as well. He still respects her and values her input in any decision he makes. He will still fight for whatever can help him with his dream. However, he never disregards her feelings. She has the freedom to use her voice however she sees fit. Gordo is the one who fails to see how his dreams overshadow and consume his family life. He sees this as his second chance to get things right. Trudy was perfectly fine starting over without him. She still has to stay behind to care for their daughters. It's traumatic for them to see their father hit a reporter. It's not hard to uncover some of the scandalous aspects of his past. It's just a matter of the agency covering it up. Gordo can shape his story to whatever he wants it to be. He sees that as so freeing. Trudy only sees how much further they could fall as a result. Her dreams have been crushed by what he wants from his family. Annie may inspire her. The money may help her achieve her dreams. This couple could come back together. But again, the show just isn't all that interested in sharing the nuances of this story as it relates to the time period. It's mostly just expected that the female characters stand back and allow the men to shine. This is a story about the Mercury 7. However, their wives are an important part of that journey. The show remains willing to hold them at a distance. These are figures who must be revered. Any amoral actions aren't positioned as scandalous as they could be. It's easy for these guys to get away with anything. It's meant to achieve the aspirational and inspirational goal of the mission. But it highlights their personal failings and the ways in which society gives them so much latitude despite how little they've done so far. They feel secure in their actions. Not everyone around them feels the same. Those stories are largely ignored.