Sunday, September 26, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Great North' - Judy Celebrates and Dreads Getting Her Braces Removed By the Dentist in 'Brace/Off Adventure'

FOX's The Great North - Episode 2.01 "Brace/Off Adventure"

In a special musical episode, Judy embarks on a journey after getting some unexpected news from the dentist.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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 season premiere of FOX's The Great North.

"Brace/Off Adventure" was written by Caroline Levich and directed by Mario D'Anna

Life can be simple yet exceptional in so many rewarding and endearing ways. The Tobin family loves and supports each other. They are certainly dependent on each other. They freak out whenever they spend too much time apart. They are each afraid of change. And yet, they push each other to embrace the unknown. This series fundamentally highlights the anxiety felt by this family even in a locale meant to be seen as offering the simple life. Lone Moose, Alaska is unique. However, the experiences felt by its citizens are just as universal regardless of location. Judy celebrates and dreads getting her braces removed. That's the backbone of the story in this musical premiere. It's a story she has to tell. Everyone must get sucked into the drama. It's dramatic and expressive in comparison to the simple dreams of having toast as expressed by the rest of her family. Of course, that toast adventure is just as dynamic. The toaster keeps bursting into flames. This story started as an amusing cutaway joke. Something to highlight the differences amongst this family. Judy stands out as different. And yet, they all still perfectly understand one another. Plus, the need for toast also has a deeper meaning. That comparison allows Judy to see this great uncertainty in her life in a new light. That is rewarding as well. The future may always be scary. People are just trying to make the best decisions they can in the moment. It won't always work out. Life is unpredictable. Every person may have some reason to feel unfulfilled and unhappy with how adulthood turned out. And yet, it's still worth living and expressing oneself every step of the way. Judy is confident with who she is. She associates her braces as part of that identity. She is popular and recognized for the devices on her teeth meant to straighten them. Her sense of self worth is deeply imbedded in that aspect. That's not all that she is. She is so much more than what is on her teeth. She believes she stands out with them on. Without them, the future is scary and daunting. Sometimes, she sees that plainly. Other times, people have to sing the nuances of what's truly going on. That too highlights the way in which she is still a teenager struggling to make sense of the world around her. Everything is expanding. She expresses a desire for more freedom. She has a plan for when she can finally go to a bar. It's unexpected when that possibility becomes a reality much sooner than expected. Her artistry highlights her passion in life. She is creative. She needs to express herself in that outlet. Of course, her friends don't really appreciate the musical stylings she delivers from the makeshift stage. And yes, the audience enjoys it more because it's all happening in real time with the stylizations accompanying everything Judy is portraying in vivid detail. It's hilarious to watch as she's on the bus with all of her teeth. In that moment, she realizes that these fears of the unknown can actually hold her back. That's a powerful life lesson as well. She can't be scared of growing up. People give her plenty of reasons to doubt herself and doubt what life in the future will be. She can't fall prey to that pessimism. She simply needs to rely on her family. They uplift her spirit. They have taken risks in the past as well. Judy has helped support them on every step of their respective journeys. They return the favor. They see how silly all of this can be. They also respect just how agonizing it has become for Judy. She tortures herself with nightmares. She needs reassurance. And in the end, she is comforted by the news that she will need braces off and on for the rest of her life. Her replacement orthodontist didn't make this decision based on the development of her teeth. He simply assumed that she would be better off without them because that would boost her appeal in high school. That's such a selfish reason. He disrupts her entire life and alters a place she actually loves. Judy enjoys spending time with the dentist. She is friends with everyone in the office. Of course, they don't all tolerate her to the same degree. She is the same as any other patient. Her needs have to be respected. And that comes with needing the expertise to make fact-based decisions. Dr. Gary fails in that objective during his first day on the job. He has the potential to learn and grow. He too may be living in his family's shadow. That presents as a unifying concept for this community. Each family holds their members close for as long as possible. They still clash from time to time. Sometimes it's more public than others. It's a lot of fun and hilarious to watch though. It doesn't change the status quo. Judy still has her braces. She doesn't have to succumb to existential dread in this specific way. She is still going to grow up though. That prognosis is still inevitable. Her trying to cope with that has always been engaging as a story engine and is sure to continue in the new season.