Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.16: "Gabby Goose"

“No way, we’ll just lose at the white people game with white people questions. All the answers are Winston Churchill or the Red Sox.”

This episode of “Fresh off the Boat” had two rather unrelated plots that both had potential. I think they both would have been great if either had been developed a bit more. In the main plot, Louis and Jessica struggle with how much of their private life should be shared with neighbors when Louis complains about Jessica’s poor sportsmanship to Honey. In the B story, just as Eddie is finally coming to terms with Tupac’s death, Biggie Smalls is killed too. This sends Eddie into an understandable tailspin. The main plot explored an interesting dynamic of Louis and Jessica’s relationship, and it would have been ridiculous not to also explore Eddie’s reaction to Biggie’s death since Tupac has been so heavily featured. Putting both of these stories in the same episode, though, underserved them I think.

The episode opens with Louis, Jessica, Honey, and Marvin playing a game of Scrabble. Jessica kicks ass, as you’d expect, even with English being her second language. Next, the group decides to play charades. Jessica really wants to partner with Honey, but Louis insists that the teams be the married couples. Honey and Marvin do really well in the first round, with Honey almost immediately identifying “Tess d’Urbervilles.” Louis and Jessica don’t fare nearly as well. Louis’s attempt to rime the movie “Babe” with “Abe” Lincoln is completely incomprehensible. Jessica is so upset that she goes to the bathroom, puts on her pajamas, and tells Honey and Marvin to leave while she brushes her teeth.

Meanwhile, the boys and Grandma watch The Real World together on MTV. I’m kind of surprised that the boys are watching the show. I’m about a year younger than Eddie, and I didn’t even know what The Real World was until the summer of 2000 when I was sixteen years old and spent a week visiting an out of town friend. I was super into it by then, but I don’t think I would have really known what to make of the show when I was thirteen in March of 1997. I can tell you this was March 1997 because the broadcast is interrupted with breaking news announcing Notorious B.I.G. has died. Eddie had just been talking about how he was finally starting to feel like he had recovered from Tupac’s death. He had designed a memorial tattoo and everything. Needless to say, Biggie’s death sends him into a tailspin. We next see him on the phone gossiping about the funeral with a Delta Air Lines agent. Jessica hangs up the phone on him, but he goes right back into it when the agent calls back. Evan and Emery think they need to do some sort of brotherly intervention.

The day after the game night disaster, a very embarrassed Louis runs into Honey outside. They start dancing around the topic of Jessica’s behavior, and Louis expresses how much it frustrates him when Jessica ruins game night. Honey suggests Louis talk to Jessica about it, but Louis says he has been trained from a young age (with flashback for evidence) to avoid potentially uncomfortable conversations. When Marvin steps outside, Honey demonstrates the right way to lovingly try and correct someone’s behavior by telling Marvin (after a compliment) that he high-fives her too hard. Louis tries the same technique on Jessica, and it goes well until he mentions that he got the technique from Honey. Jessica is upset, first of all, that Louis shared their private issues with someone (and she throws a Trivial Pursuit piece to make a point), and second, she’s concerned that word will spread because Marvin is the biggest gossip in Orlando.

The next time Louis talks to honey, he explains what happened, and Honey is concerned. Jessica has a reputation for being vengeful, and she might try and spread some facts about Louis that he might rather everyone didn’t know. At first, Louis insists he’s an open book, but then he starts thinking about the shoe lifts he wears, and he realizes he could be in danger of an embarrassing reveal after all. He rushes to Marvin’s office, where he learns that Jessica has already been there. Martin keeps making references to height and related words, so Louis is convinced that Jessica spilled the beans. His paranoia grows when he sees Jessica laughing and powerwalking with some neighbors on his way home. He accuses her of talking about the lifts, but it’s very clear that Jessica hadn’t actually mentioned them. It’s awkwardness all around as Louis and Jessica have a very public argument.

Meanwhile, the boys do whatever they can to try and dig Eddie out of his Biggie-related depression. First they have Alison come over with a bottle of Biggie’s favorite soda that made him so “big.” Even his girlfriend can’t get Eddie out of bed. Then it’s time for a “group therapy” circle with the brothers and Eddie’s pals. They all go around the circle and talk about things that have been bothering them (some more superficial than others), and Eddie finally starts opening up. What’s been bothering him is that Biggie was only 24. Less than ten years older than Eddie. His first album was called “Ready to Die” This all has Eddie wondering if he’s ready to die. Later when he’s back in bed again, he talks some more to Evan and Emery about how he hoped to be real friends with Biggie one day and even start a soda business with him. Evan tried slapping the depression out of Eddie (ineffective, of course), but Emery has a better idea. He paints a Biggie memorial mural in Eddie’s bedroom, and Eddie loves it.

Back home, Jessica reveals to Louis that when she told him she was going to “go on the offensive” against any potential gossip Marvin would spread, she meant that she would go on a charm offensive. She wanted to be so nice to everybody that they couldn’t possibly believe she would have a game night meltdown. Louis admits that this was actually a decent idea. They decide to invite their friends over for another game night to demonstrate their best behavior. Jessica successfully doesn’t flip out when Louis once again utterly fails at Charades. The other couples, however, all start arguing and airing their own dirty laundry. Louis and Jessica don’t know what to do, and they spend the rest of the evening staring at a plant in the corner of the room. They resolve to never complain about each other to others again.

No comments:

Post a Comment