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All right, now that it has been nearly 3 years, I am finally ready to push past the traumatic episode that unintentionally knocked this show out of my lineup for the rest of its life, 2 eps after I had finally caught up from my LAST traumatic experience with it. (how has this wholesome family sitcom managed to do this to me twice)

I just pulled it randomly from the library when I saw it, even though it's not the first time I've hoped in vain that having it at hand would get me through the block, but then...cramps hit hard, as did accompanying joint pain, and I needed to lie down quietly for an hour before I could go back to work. Fun, happy, low-impact television to focus on was just exactly what the doctor ordered.

And that's the story of how I accidentally watched 8-10 episodes of season 7 in 2 days. I love this show so much.


THOUGHTS SO FAR:

  • It didn't even take half an episode before I was practically weeping about how much I love Mike & Frankie. They are just such PERFECT representations of not only blue-collar Midwestern parents, but spouses. They complement each other so well, and their chemistry is great because there's a shipper element, sure, but they also just...have chemistry in a life partners way?? It is a way very specific to running a household together and raising kids, and I am not even sure how to describe it, but they have it and they have it down perfectly.

  • I am still weirdly OK with Sue's haircut, probably because she had the appropriate identity crisis and panic attack about it and she still only cut it out of disaster rather than desire, and also because her long hair was nice but not especially thick and gorgeous, so this cut gives it more body.

  • I love the decoration of Sue's dorm room even more than her original room

  • I LOVE how Axl/Devin has been handled so far -- super casual open relationship, by mutual agreement! they may or may not now be exclusively dating other people instead of each other, but I am okay with that, even though I love their chemistry!

  • Still really enjoyed Axl's Face Journey both when he confronts Sue about interfering in his relationship, and when he snubs Devin's later approach and pretends he totally doesn't care that she's there. Axl + Feelings is my favorite.

  • (I, too, would totally have pictured Devin as my sister-in-law someday if I were Sue, and also would probably have blabbed it without thinking)

  • Speaking of Axl, I am so glad that actor's pilot did not get picked up and that he stayed put right here, full time. As I said before, he gets better every year, and I can't even imagine the hole these episodes would have without him. It's more fun than I thought having him and Sue together at school again!

  • (him taking her out for pizza in that episode that traumatized me...super wonderful, even if the truce was shattered by the next week, once she got her sea college legs)

  • It was kind of sweet to give Brad his technical coming-out-without-saying-it-aloud moment with Sue.

  • I love Sue's every reaction to her horrifyingly NC-17 rated roommate. My poor baby. But at the same time, who else on television would allow their college freshman character to have the same and entirely appropriate reaction to her peers having sex as a 13-year-old, instead of going "yep, we're all adults now and that's just fine for adults / what they do"?

  • (also I was kind of falling asleep to some of these episodes so I missed how she ended up getting out of that roommate situation -- oh wait, she tattled to the RA, right? ANOTHER perfect way Sue is a girl after my own heart.)

  • I remember being worried about what this show would look like with Brick being the only kid at home, but I haven't noticed a big change in screen time for anyone. They are making judicious use of both splitting plots between Orson and college, and having the college kids come home...a lot

  • OMG @ finding out Axl & Hutch not realizing they were illegally subletting their pad and getting themselves evicted for that + making the place a health hazard with an ant infestation and general slovenly state. Hilarious.

  • The Halloween episode suggesting that Brick is a time traveler who marries Cindy and has 4 kids and becomes a leading expert on fonts...amazing.

  • As was Cindy standing outside the house disguised as the Grim Reaper, silently waiting for Brick but being unintentionally ominous enough to send the freeloaders off in a panicky dash to find new housing.

  • PEACED-OUT VEGETARIAN HIPPIE SEAN!! The only thing more amazing is how infuriated his mother is about her perfect model citizen and pre-med-track son turning into...this.

  • THE THANKSGIVING EPISODE, specifically the one where Axl cries his way through the night because all of a sudden it's hitting him that he's halfway through college and his life in shambles with no clear direction forward, and he is basically in a tailspin of anxiety and doubt in his self worth

  • ("You're lucky. Nobody hassles you. You can just be the Ax-man. / "Yeah, well, Ax-man's not so awesome these days. ...I mean, football is a total bust; um, got kicked out of my house at school, so now I'm living at home with my parents, like a loser; I don't even KNOW what Devin and I are doing anymore, and school -- everyone's talking about jobs and grad school, and I'm just like, I don't even know if I'm gonna make it, you know? In the back of my mind, I always thought my hair would be enough to separate me from other people? But maybe that's just not enough anymore. I don't know. I just, uh... It's just really, really hhhard. *tiny surreptitious sniff of TOTALLY NOT CRYING*)

  • And even though the show tries to find a punchline in his public humilation that he continually makes worse and more public until he has to start a rumor he's emotional because his parents died, this is like...an actual serious thing for him. Wow.

  • I especially love the heartwarming scene around the family table, everyone playing poker while the power's out, where the sentiment of the situation gets to him and this time he just accepts and rolls with it. Awww. That's the thing about family. (a good family) You're always going to have a place with them. And it's really nice to know that. Especially on a holiday that is all about togetherness.

Minor Negatives:
-I...don't really know what to make of this diaper company thing? This is not really a normal blue collar experience...like at all. Nor can I say I'm big on Midlife Crisis Mike.

-I JUST got rid of Sue's last awful love interest, and now I gotta deal with Logan? Logan, who would probably have been a massive upgrade if I had seen him in 2015 when this aired (I don't even remember him at Prom), but at present he is thoroughly ruined for me as blockhead musclebound jock White Josh from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Major Negative: JUST NO on the part of Christmas Eve where Sue accidentally obliterated every digital photo the family has taken over the course of the series, forever, because they were never backed up or printed out anywhere except maybe in Sue's scrapbooks. I will tailspin harder than Frankie if I let this settle as canon in my brain. (DISNEYWORLD!! Graduation(s)! Every time I see a camera in reruns I will feel the pain anew??)

There's just...no way. I need to believe a tech wizard can scrape them back from the hard drive someday, no matter how wrecked the old computer is, because otherwise, doing that at all (much less on Christmas) just for some temporary emotional resonance is one of the cruelest things you've ever done, and there is a nonzero chance I am traumatized enough to get blocked on this show again.

[edit: OH THANK GOD. I sneaked a peek at some summaries for upcoming episodes on Wikipedia, and one says "the photos that were accidentally deleted from the computer on Christmas Eve return, giving everyone some perspective," so now I can breathe again and address this storyline properly.

More on this in the next post, though. I wanna talk about the good parts of the Christmas ep in detail, and also the one before Christmas that I can't organically fit in here.]

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