Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fresh off the Boat 2.12: "Love and Loopholes"

“I lost two pounds but gained a wife.”

“Love and Loopholes” was the “Fresh off the Boat” creative team’s attempt at a Valentine’s Day episode. Other characters (mostly Emery, Marvin, and Honey) try to impose on Jessica and Louis their idea of how a ouple should act on Valentine’s Day. Also, Eddie goes through the types of misadventures you’d expect trying to get Allison tickets to a Janet Jackson concert for Valentine’s Day. Compared to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and holiday season episodes, there aren’t as many Valentine’s Day episodes of television out there, so it was interesting, on an intellectual level, to watch the creative team try to put their unique spin on the holiday. The Huangs can’t do anything like a stereotypical American family, after all. Everything does wrap up in a fairly positive message, though. Basically, you don’t have to engage in typical romantic displays of affection to show love to your partner. Love can come in many forms, and it’s taking care of the little details of what makes someone happy that really matters.

It’s a few days before Valentine’s Day, and Louis and Jessica are having dinner with Marvin and Honey. Marvin and Honey are talking about all the wonderful date nights they have on weekends when Nicole is with her mother. There’s fancy dinners and dancing aplenty. Then Marvin and Honey leave Jessica and Louis just sitting at the dinner table while they go to their bedroom to have sex. This particular moment in the episode just seemed a little bizarre and overwritten. Jessica and Louis eventually head home after wrapping up their leftovers (it seems like this sort of thing is a usual occurrence during social gatherings with Marvin and Honey), and when post-coital, Honey pitches the idea to Marvin that they watch the Huang kids the next day so that Jessica and Louis can have a Valentine’s date night. They seem to think it’s rather tragic that Jessica and Louis don’t have romantic outings very often.

When Honey makes the babysitting offer, Jessica and Louis are kind of offended that Honey thinks they need romantic time, as if there’s something wrong with how they are living their lives. After thinking about it a bit, though, they think it might be nice to have a quiet evening to themselves after all. Emery, the womanizer of the Huang boys, is especially happy to hear his parents will be getting a date night. As he puts together the “love wall” in his room (a collection of all the Valentines he received at school hung on the wall of his room), he explains to his parents that he sees their relationship as a model of what romantic love should be.

Meanwhile, Eddie has told his girlfriend, Alison, that he got Janet Jackson tickets for Valentine’s Day. There’s just one problem though, that he reveals to Evan and Embry. He hasn’t exactly gotten the tickets yet. He is counting on winning them from a radio station giveaway. Eddie and his friend Trent are going to use both the main phone line and the fax phone line to make double the calls. At first, the plan isn’t working. Getting through is more difficult than Eddie and Trent thought it was going to be. Suddenly, though, Trent hits pay dirt. The next day, however, when Eddie asks Trent if he picked up the tickets, Trent reveals that he’s been a huge Janet Jackson fan for years, and he intends to use one of the tickets. He tells Eddie that he is going to have to choose whether he or Alison will go to the concert.

On Valentine’s Day, Evan and Emery are dropped off at Marvin and Honey’s house, and then the Huangs drop Eddie off at the concert. Marvin is excited about having sons for the day, and he brings the boys into his office to dispense advice and play “dare or dare.” The first dare is for Emery to go rearrange Louis’ sock drawer. Somehow, both Marvin and Emery think this is a super entertaining idea. Emery goes back to his house to find his parents there. Since this is a sitcom, I figured Emery was going to catch them having sex, but this is Jessica and Louis Huang, so they are very happily working on their taxes. With two businesses and three children, apparently the Huang taxes are quite complicated. A devastated Emery starts taking all the Valentines down off his wall. He tells his parents that his ideals about romantic love are now shattered. Louis and Jessica try to restore Emery’s faith by making out in front of him (which is just weird), but it’s just super awkward. While Emery is gone, Evan dares Marvin to tell him a secret Honey doesn’t know. Marvin tells Emery that Honey is his third wife, not his second, as Honey believes.

At the Janet Jackson concert, Trent is surprised when both Eddie and Alison show up. Eddie thinks he has a plan to get all three of them into the show. He offers to trade their two tickets for three slightly worse tickets that a scalper has available. As you might expect, though, the scalper just grabs Eddie’s two tickets and runs before giving him the three alternative tickets. So the kids are left with nothing. Janet’s managers see them sitting dejectedly outside the venue, trying to hear the concert, and they take pitty. They offer VIP passes for the next evening’s concert. The kids are stoked. When they return the next day, though, they find out that they aren’t actually going to be in the VIP area – they’ve got obstructed view seats. I guess it’s an upgrade that they’re actually in the venue this time, though.

Honey and Marvin agree to watch the younger boys a second time so that Jessica and Louis can have a real date night. Honey is pissed at Marvin because Emery has let the cat out of the bag about her being Marvin’s third wife. That whole conflict is wrapped up pretty neatly, though, when Honey overhears Marvin explaining to Evan and Emery how real love is being considerate and taking care of each other. He gives an example of when Honey made him his favorite eggs. Emery goes home and overhears his parents back at working on the taxes. He hears it in a different way this time, though. They are each proud of each other for remembering little details that will give them deductions. This is how they take care of their family and show their love, even if it’s a bit unconventional.

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