Married… With Children Character Review: Marcy D’Arcy

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show Married… With Children. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

When we are newlyweds, it appears that nothing will spoil the bubble of perfection that we are in. But life has a way of interfering and reminding us that imperfection is just around the corner. When the audience first meets Marcy Rhoades (Amanda Bearse), she and her husband Steve (David Garrison) are newlyweds and the image of suburban perfection. Then they meet their new neighbors: Al and Peg Bundy (Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal).

Marcy becomes besties with Peg, but she clashes with Al because she believes that he is a misogynistic pig. The insults she hurls at him come back at her tenfold. While this is happening, Steve comes under Al’s spell. This lasts until Marcy and Steve go their separate ways. Her new husband, Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley) is younger, very into himself, and not above using his wife for her paycheck. As her first husband did, Jefferson sinks to a new low when he is around Al.

To sum it up: As much as we may wish and yearn for perfection, the reality is that it will never happen. That means that we have to accept reality, warts and all. In her unique way, Marcy both accepts this reality and fights against it. It is that push and pull that makes her stand out in this satire of the family sitcom.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Throwback Thursday: Mom (2013 to 2021)

As children, it is easy to assume that our parents are perfect. One of the hallmarks of growing up is realizing that the adults we were raised by are human, and therefore, imperfect.

The sitcom, Mom (2013 to 2021) followed the relationship between Bonnie (Allison Janney) and her adult daughter, Christy (Anna Faris). Christy is a newly sober single mother who is trying to stay on the figurative wagon. Bonnie is a former alcoholic who does not hesitate to make “suggestions” on what Christy should do differently.

Though the cast is led by two brilliant and funny actresses, this show turns me off completely. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’ve seen enough to know that if I had to choose between watching Mom and turning off the television completely, I would turn it off.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Married… With Children Character Review: Bud Bundy

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show Married… With Children. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In the world of family sitcoms, the son of the family is sometimes a skirt-chasing fool for whom getting an education is secondary. In Married…With Children, Bud Bundy (David Faustino) is just that. Like many young men, the organ he is thinking with is not on the top of his head. The younger child and only son of Al and Peg Bundy, he loves teasing his older sister, Kelly.

Academically speaking, Bud is the smartest member of the family. Graduating from both high school and college, he excels professionally in a way that his father never did. But that does not mean that he gets everything he wants. He still struggles in the romance department and wasn’t very popular during his school years. Like his father, he has a certain perspective on women and at the end of the day, he is still a Bundy.

To sum it up: Some people are who they are. Though Bud in one way stands out from his family, he is still one of them. As much as we may want to get away from the people who raised us and our childhood experiences, this is part of who we are. The thing about Bud is that he does not try to hide where he came from, but he does his best to rise above his circumstances.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Married… With Children Character Review: Kelly Bundy

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last weekend. The family came first.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show Married… With Children. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

If we can say nothing else about Kelly Bundy (Christina Applegate), we can say that she is a chip off the old block. Like her mother, Peg (Katey Sagal), Kelly is not above using her sexuality to get her way. Like her father, Al (Ed O’Neill), she isn’t the brightest bulb in the box. Combine that with the blonde hair, and you’ve got the typical dumb blonde teenage girl.

Though she has a long series of boyfriends, none of them last. Al takes particular pleasure in sending them packing. She also loves to mock her little brother, Bud, who turns around and mocks her right back. When she is in school, Kelly would prefer to be elsewhere. Which accounts for grades that are nothing to brag about. In the eyes of her classmates, she is the mean girl.

But when push comes to shove, she is a Bundy. Bundys stick together, no matter what.

To sum it up: Obviously, Kelly is a dumb blonde who relies on her physical features to get by. But that is what makes her a brilliant character. She is a satire of a character who in another program might be wholesome, studious, and, well smart. In being who she is, Kelly ridicules the trope that often appears in family sitcoms. Applegate is clearly a smart performer. It takes a certain kind of intelligence to play a girl like Kelly.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Married… With Children Character Review: Al Bundy

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last weekend. There is only so much that can be done in a day.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show Married… With Children. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

The image of the family sitcom father is one that was developed in the 1950s and has changed over the decades. Though he is imperfect and has his flaws (as well do), he does the best he can to take care of his wife and children. Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill) from Married With Children is the exact opposite.

His adult life is one long string of miseries. After knocking up his wife, Peg (Katey Sagal), he was forced to marry her in a literal shotgun wedding. To support his wife and kids, this former high school football star is a shoe salesman in the local mall. He hates his job (which pays nothing) and hates the customers. The only bright spot is that it gets him away from Peggy, who is frequently looking for some bedroom alone time with her husband.

It doesn’t help that his children are moochers. His daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) is the epitome of a dumb blonde. His son Bud (David Faustino), is well, an idiot. His only outlet is drinking with is spending with his friends and drooling over half-naked women half his age.

When Al is home, he has more than his family to contend with. Neighbors Marcy and Steve Rhoades (Amanda Bearse and David Garrison) are introduced as the new neighbors and newlyweds who are the picture-perfect couple. While Al is able to corrupt both Steve and Marcy’s second husband, Jefferson D’Arcy (Ted McGinley), he frequently buts heads with Marcy. But, when push comes to shove, he is the man you want in your corner.

To sum it up: To say that Al Bundy is politically incorrect is an understatement. He is rude, he is crude, miserable, and sarcastic. But he is also, in a sense, more true to life than some of his counterparts in other sitcoms. The humor in his character comes from the crassness that is over the top, but completely relatable.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Throwback Thursday: George Lopez (2002-2007)

The framework of the generic family sitcom has been around for seventy years. After almost a century of watching these programs, there has to be a way to both color within the lines and not create an exact copy of what has been on the air previously.

George Lopez was on the air from 2002-2007. The show stars the eponymous comedian George Lopez as a husband, father, and employee of a Los Angeles manufacturing plant. Married to Angie (Constance Marie) for many years, they are doing the always classic and never easy work/life balance dance. George’s mother Benny (Belita Moreno) is a constant presence in their home, which is problematic due to her self-centered nature.

I’ve watched a couple of episodes and it’s your basic paint-by-numbers family sitcom. The only difference is that the main characters are all Latinx and that their son has autism. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that the America we see on the streets is reflected on both the big and small screens. There was obviously enough of an audience to keep it on the schedule for five seasons. But I found this show to be nothing special.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

RIP Bob Saget

Every generation has that TV parent that we wish for.

When I was growing up, that parent was Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) in Full House. Danny was a widower who was raising his three young daughters with the help of his brother-in-law and best friend. When the series premiered in 1987, the premise of three men raising young girls without a maternal presence was revolutionary. Widows with children (i.e. The Partridge Family) was not a novel narrative. But a widower in the same situation represented a change in the family sitcom and how society was changing in general.

Saget passed away today. He was 65.

Though Danny was a bit corny as fathers go, he did his best to raise his girls. Like many TV dads, he represented an ideal image of fatherhood that may not have been entirely realistic, but we loved him anyway.

Away from his role as the Tanner family patriarch, Saget was a comedian whose jokes were not exactly appropriate for prime time television.

Warning: This video contains adult language.

Z”L Bob. May your memory be a blessing.

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Best New TV Shows of 2021

*I apologize for the delay in posting. I should have written this before New Year’s Eve.

  1. Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as Loki, the complicated immortal who has become much more than the standard antagonist. Forced into new circumstances, he goes on a journey that forever changes him.
  2. The Wonder Years: This reboot of the beloved 1980’s/1990’s series is just as poignant as its predecessor. The choice of making the main character and his family African-American only adds to its relevancy.
  3. Law & Order: Organized Crime: This spinoff of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit starring Chris Meloni as returning Detective Elliot Stabler is a thrilling and spine tingling hour of television.
  4. Ordinary Joe: This new NBC series is the story of one man and three distinct life paths before him. Told concurrently and using different colors for each decision, is is a reminder of how one choice can affect the rest of our lives.
  5. Impeachment: American Crime Story: The latest chapter of this long running F/X series focuses on the affair between Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) and former President Clinton (Clive Owen) and the impeachment trial that followed. Instead of focusing on Clinton, the story is about the women who were directly affected by his less than honorable actions.
  6. WandaVision: This first foray by the MCU via DisneyPlus is everything it promised to be. Wanda Maxmioff and Vision (Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) are living in family sitcom wedded bliss. But it not what it seems to be. With a star making turn by Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, this series is a must see.
  7. All Creatures Great and Small: Ths unexpectedly Masterpeice/PBS series is adorable and charming. A rookie vetenarian starts his career in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s and grows in unexpected ways. The new season starts tonight at 9PM ET/ 8PM CT.
  8. Atlantic Crossing: This second Masterpeice/PBS series tells the story of the friendship/supposed affair between Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and Crown Princess Martha of Sweden during World War II. Forgotten for nearly a century, this tale of one woman’s drive to save her nation is truly worth watching.
  9. The Book of Boba Fett: This latest entry into the Star Wars universe from DisneyPlus just premiered on December 29th. Though only two episodes have been released, it is already asking questions that are begging for answers.
  10. Behind Her Eyes: Based on the book by Sarah Pinborough, this six part Netflix series about a married man’s affair with his secretary has a delicious ending that is jaw dropping and completely out of left field. Few endings have wowed me as this did.
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Ranking the MCU DisneyPlus Series

The beauty of a world like the MCU universe is that the number of stories that can be told is nearly endless. Over the last year or so, DisneyPlus has released four different series that extend the narrative beyond the ones that exist on the big screen. The list below is my ranking of the existing series.

  1.  Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as the trickster g-d turned hero. With Owen Wilson as a mid-level bureaucrat and Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie/the Variant, the program takes one of Marvel’s most beloved and iconic characters in surprising directions.
  • WandaVision: A loving rip-off of the family sitcom over the decades, Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany returned to the roles of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. An allegory of grief and loss, it speaks to how difficult it is to lose the ones we love. The highlight at least for me, was Kathryn Hahn as nosy neighbor/baddie Agatha Harkness. That is a character for the ages
  • What If…: This animated series takes the narrative into new directions, introducing new storylines and mixing characters in ways that do not fit into the big screen timeline. From a writing perspective, this program is completely unique and a lovely way to take this world to places where it had not been before.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Taking place after Avengers: Endgame, this is sort of a buddy comedy meets series with a not-so-subtle political message. Though it was did not quite hit the mark as other series did, it was still relatively engaging. The addition of Erin Kellyman’s character, who turns from baddie to hero was a nice twist that I happily did not see coming.

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History of the Sitcom Review

The beautiful thing about art is that it is never static. It adapts to both time and culture, giving creators the ability to match what is going on in the wider world.

The new eight part mini-series CNN miniseries, History of the Sitcom, premiered on Sunday night. Each episode focuses on how the sitcom evolved over time and reflects on how it explores the different aspects of our lives from family to work to school, etc. Interviewing actors, writers, and producers, it delves into how this genre has shaped American culture.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. The first one focused on the evolution of the family sitcom and how it has evolved from the white, suburban Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show programs that populated the television schedule of the 1950’s. The second one talked about how sex, sexuality, the LGBTQ community, and the different variations of gender have been seen by audiences.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

History of the Sitcom airs on Sunday night at 9PM on CNN.

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