Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 4.03: "Kids"

“Did it sound dumb? I’ve only had half a beer, but the voice in my head that criticizes me constantly has gone quiet.”

“Kids” was an episode of “Fresh off the Boat where I could especially sympathize with the Huangs, even if they did take things too far. As a single woman now, as of earlier this month, officially in my mid-30’s, I understand how kids change friendships. I’m not recently out of “kid jail” as the Huangs put it – I’ve never been sentenced in the first place. But plenty of my friends have been, or they’ve made other big life changes that have fundamentally changed their relationships with me. I don’t begrudge them that by any means – the kids of my friends are all awesome, and I want the people I care about to be happy in general. The change, however, is real. I can only imagine that how the Huangs feel, having just gotten to the point where they feel like their lives don’t have to be completely ruled by their kids anymore, when they learn that their best friends are now seriously considering kids. It’s got to be more intense, since they’ve been sequestered for so long and just now feel like they can regain some of their own identities again.

The episode opens with Louis and Jessica hearing a bunch of sodas being opened out in the kitchen. We learn that before he dated Alison, Eddie would make “Soda Suicides” that combined four types of soda and a red Jolly Rancher. He’d then stumble into the living room and spill the sugar bomb all over the couch. Now he’s back to making the diabetes in a cup, so Louis and Jessica want to make sure he doesn’t spill as usual. They enter the living room to find Eddie sitting calmly on the couch, the soda sitting on a coaster on the coffee table. Eddie says it finally occurred to him to put the soda on the table before sitting down. Louis and Jessica are thrilled, considering this a sign that finally all three of their kids are self-sufficient enough where they don’t need constant supervision. They’re finally out of “kid jail.” They realize they can go out for “dinner, and…” instead of just dinner, because they no longer have to rush home to Eddie. Jessica wants to invite Honey and Marvin to dinner and Karaoke right away. She even splurges for a private room and the four microphone package.

Meanwhile, Eddie gets home from school to see Alison of all people hanging out with Evan playing a game. Evan says that he and Alison became friends over the years when she was waiting around for Eddie, because Eddie is always late. Apparently they bonded over, among other things, POGs and Tamagotchis. Alison is a 90s tween/teen after my own heart. I think my POGs and my Tamagotchi are somewhere in my parents’ house to this day. Anyway, when Evan goes to the kitchen to get some dino nuggets, Eddie and Alison have a serious talk. Eddie doesn’t want Alison and Evan to be friends anymore, because it will be too hard to move on from her if she’s always around. Alison agrees that this situation is less than ideal, and she’s mostly been sticking around because she cant bear to let Evan down. As a child of divorce herself, she wants to make sure Evan still feels loved. Eddie, for his part, didn’t realize that Alison’s parents were divorced. Or that her family is Jewish (he asks if she gets double Christmas presents).

Louis and Jessica sit down at Chez Dennis, super excited for their night out. Honey and Marvin are a little late because Marvin had to finish cleaning Joy Behar’s teeth. Marvin says they can’t stay out late, though, because he’s having a medical procedure done the next day. He’s getting his vasectomy reversed because Honey really wants to have a baby. You can almost hear the record scratch at that moment. Jessica, who is, as you’ll recall, very happy to finally be sprung from Kid Jail, asks Honey if she’s sure she wants a kid at this point. Jessica emphasizes how great it is to finally not have to constantly mind children. Honey seems to think pinching baby legs and buying baby hats will outweigh all the negatives. Honey and Marvin leave early to prep for Marvin’s procedure, and Jessica and Louis end up going to karaoke by themselves. They find it’s just not the same without Honey and Marvin there to share in the fun. They just can’t do Paula Abdul justice.

Everyone’s been avoiding Emery because it’s his bad luck year and nobody wants the bad juju. Nobody but Grandma, that is. She is wise enough to use the bad juju for her own gain. First she has Emery “rearrange” breakable ceramics she doesn’t like that she had just been holding on to because they were gifts. He drops them and they shatter, of course. Then she takes him to mah-jongg at senior center, where she thinks Emery’s bad luck powers can take down her arch rival, Cheryl. Emery stands behind Cheryl, and Grandma does indeed win the mah-jongg match. Emery is a little upset at the idea of being used in this way at first, but he brightens when Grandma calls him her good luck charm. She has many enemies, and she needs Emery to help take them down. Because she is seriously the coolest and most badass grandma on television.

Eddie and Alison are supposed to be talking to Evan about how he and Alison can’t be friends anymore, but Eddie is late as per usual. Apparently he saw a red fox and decided to chase it. Anyway, Alison is about to tell Evan the news herself, but she looks at his “best friends” arrow necklace and just can’t do it. Instead, she tells him that she and Eddie are back together. When Eddie does eventually arrive, he’s surprised to hear this. Alison promises to tell Evan the truth, but the second time she tries, she says they’re going to go for a pony ride instead. This is supposed to be a whole play on the divorcing parents stereotype, with Alison and Eddie trying to keep up a happy front as Evan rides the pony. Evan doesn’t have a clue anything is wrong.

Afraid of losing their best friends, Louis and Jessica offer to drive Marvin to his procedure. They make a pit stop at the park on the way, though. Marvin remarks on how many homeless people there seem to be in the par, but then Jessica points out that they’re actually just all exhausted parents. She reminds Marvin, who has been through parenthood once already, how difficult raising a child is. He said that with Nicole, Nicole’s mom did most of the work, but he knows that won’t fly with Honey. Honey will expect him to actually parent. Louis and Jessica drop Marvin off at the outpatient clinic. When he thinks they aren’t looking, he walks past the door and on to a city bus. Louis and Jessica celebrate their victory. Jessica re-books her favorite karaoke room (complete with four microphone package) and everything.

Eddie, Alison, and Evan arrive home from their trip to the park, and Evan’s got a big chocolate ice cream cone. Alison tries to tell Evan the truth, but eventually Eddie has to do the job. He is sorry he tried to cut Alison out. They aren’t together anymore, but he doesn’t want to forget Alison, either. He wants Alison and Evan to stay friends, and he hopes to be Alison’s friend too. Evan’s very angry about the lies, though. So angry that he smears his chocolate ice cream into the nice white couch Jessica took out of storage once she thought the kids wouldn’t ruin it. She and Louis stare at the couch stain at the end of the episode, angry that they still can’t have nice things.

While Jessica is happily talking about rebooking karaoke, Honey storms over and says that Marvin no longer wants a baby. Jessica thinks that they should all try to have fun to forget about the argument. Honey and Marvin, however, turn karaoke into a karaoke fight. She sings “All that She Wants” (Ace of Bass is very mid-late 90s), and he sings “Respect.” Then they storm out of the karaoke room. Jessica and Louis do eventually regret not better supporting their friends, and they stop by Honey and Marvin’s house to apologize. This leads Marvin to say that he thinks Honey would be a great mom, but he’s not sure if he’s ready for his life to change again. Honey says she’s scared too, but she thinks they can make it work together. And so the Honey and Marvin baby train is back on course.

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