Thursday, August 17, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Upshaws' - Bennie Teases Lucretia About Money While Forging a New Relationship with Bernard in 'Auto Motives'

Netflix's The Upshaws - Episode 3.06 "Auto Motives"

Now flush with cash, Bennie splurges on a gift for the kids that stirs up tension with Bernard. At a crossroads, Lucretia weighs a difficult decision.

"Auto Motives" was written by Regina Y. Hicks, Annie Levine & Jonathan Emerson and directed by Robbie Countryman

Lucretia is too proud to tell her family about losing all her money. It always brought her so much joy to care for her family. That provides her life with purpose. She's always annoyed with Bennie. However, she would do so much for her loved ones. She wants to make their dreams possible. She doesn't always handle things in the most appropriate ways. She enjoys the freedom of escaping the family home. She's not living with the chaotic children. She spends time with them and then leaves for her apartment. She pampers herself with luxuries too. So much became possible for her because of the settlement she received from an airport. That seemingly set her up for life. Even though she dislikes Bennie, she's in business with him. That is about to change. She gains the confidence to make that decision because of the conversation she has with Regina. Learning how to be selfish in a healthy way was the greatest takeaway Regina received from therapy. She's still working on improving herself. She had to leave the family in order to get her mind right. She had to step away in order to love them moving forward. It took everyone awhile to understand and accept that. They thought she was being selfish. She chose to no longer care for them. She was always motivated by love. She struggles with control. She feels the pressure to maintain a high standard to avoid the same mistakes as the past. She can't control everything. She must make peace with the chaos that invades her world by the choices of others. They are disruptive. They don't have to derail her life. She doesn't have to assume ownership over this entire mess. That conversation is nuanced. Regina is grappling with all of it herself and trying to apply it to her life. She wants to share the wisdom she received from therapy. And yet, she isn't a therapist guiding others on this path. As such, others hear that it's okay to be selfish. Bennie has never needed that kind of permission before. He has always been impulsive. As soon as he gets money, he's going to spend it. He explains how the used car is a gift to his kids. That makes it a sweet gesture. It's also just a convenient story he shares to make himself look better. He knows how to lie in that way. The truth is always much more complicated. Plenty of people call him out for the deceit. It's most personal for Bernard. That comes from his own issues. Meanwhile, Lucretia is faced with a choice. She has two options that she doesn't want to pursue to alleviate her debt with the IRS. It was inevitable she would sell the shop. Bennie made it easy because he messed with her upon learning she's broke. That secret was shared. It was no longer private for Lucretia. And so, she no longer gets the celebration of helping make dreams come true for her family. She also delights in seeing Bennie upset. That's nothing new. The circumstances have shifted though.

Bernard is upset that Bennie is trying to be a more present and caring father for Aaliyah and Kelvin than he ever was when Bernard was growing up. Bennie knows Bernard is his son. However, his eldest child is an adult already making his own way in the world. He is hustling to raise the money needed to buy a gym. That's what he wants more than anything else. Lucretia couldn't just give him the money. That was no longer a possibility. Bernard has had the longest amount of time to process that. He's relieved when he can finally share the truth with his mother. He wants to confide in her. She's confused for a moment about the massive revelation about her sister. Regina will always offer her support to Lucretia as well. This family has each other's backs. They will survive no matter what obstacles are thrown their way. They will do so together. For a long time, Bernard didn't attribute his father to that overall mentality. Bennie would always create problems and then disappear. He wouldn't engage to protect his family. He's stepping up now. He hasn't truly changed his ways. His mother was the only person who could convince him to sell his father's baseball cards. That was always an option he never explored before despite the financial burden on this family. Regina was upset. She's choosing not to let that affect her for a long time. The family has money now. Everyone believes it goes to buying a vehicle to allow more independence for the teenagers. They hope they can blame a student driver for every accident that occurs. They aren't lucky in that regard. Some stories are believed. Some just don't act quickly enough. Aaliyah goes along with a lot because she believes she will receive some benefit in the end. She's curious how much her family loves her. She will take the blame for them. It just has to be worth it. Moreover, she is a reckless driver too. That falls to the next generation. The adults aren't always setting a good example for the kids. And now, Bernard's new business suffers a major demolition. Aaliyah drives through a wall. It's impressive and scary. The family holds each other close. This isn't the only setback they endure. Everything is just happening at the same time. Aaliyah selfishly believes she knows what she's doing behind the wheel. Lucretia selfishly believes selling the shop will solve her financial troubles. Bennie selfishly believes partnering with his son will mend their relationship. Everyone places their hopes on these actions being enough to solidify what they want out of life. It's never that easy though. They try to move up in the world only to come crashing back down. It's freeing to accept that pattern. It removes some of the pressure from their shoulders. And yet, plenty of chaos continues. They'll adapt. That's accepted at this point even though it robs some of the nuance and urgency out of the various character dynamics. The jokes aren't uproariously funny enough to overcome that sudden deficit in the storytelling either.