Our Tuesday Reviews

The Real O’Neals – B-

0309onealsboxNow that everyone has “come out,” the family is adjusting and moving on–mostly. Eileen’s convictions are tested when Kenny meets a cute guy in the parking lot of the craft store, and his meet cute forces the family to double down on Lent, banning Jimmy from long showers (yep), Shannon from her smart phone (and there are, disappointingly, no real consequences), and Kenny from keeping secrets. But what Eileen really wants is her perfect, straight son, as opposed to her almost-perfect son who happens to be gay. Kenny gets a date with the parking lot guy, and the show gives us some hope beyond its standard, disappointing, ABC sitcom fare when the guy nicely lets Kenny down because Kenny is newly gay and not in the same place. (Strangely charming is Jimmy asking for details about the date because he um, needs a release.) Unfortunately, the menstruation subplot, with Pat infantilizing and embarrassing his daughter before teaching her self-defense (because she’s a woman now, and every man wants to rape her) falls flat.
– Katherine M. Hill

American Crime Story – A

0309amcrboxIt’s fairly gutsy for a historical mini-series to throw in a concept episode, and while I’m stretching the definition a bit that’s essentially what “Marcia Marcia Marcia” is as we focus in on besieged prosecutor Marcia Clark. Within a minute of the opening scene, Clark is told to “know her place,” and granted it’s in a divorce courtroom where she is a litigant and not counsel, but it speaks to both the undeniable sexism that plagues her — from focus groups to her husband’s revenge porn to the bizarre media obsession with her hairstyle — and the never-asked-for spotlight thrust upon her. However, this episode hits its stride in a dizzying climactic scene where Nathan Lane’s F. Lee Bailey feigns one way before hitting prosecution star witness Mark Fuhrman with the beastly word he’s now unequivocally associated with. Clark has steadfastly pegged him as the rock of the case, and with the exchange, the final drips of her confidence leak out. In this episode, Sarah Paulson has done brilliant work setting up Clark’s breakdown with an arch confidence with just an undercurrent of slow burn, to the point where it is truly moving when the dam breaks and this icon of stoicism loses her emotional control. She’s a remarkable lawyer and strong human being, but how much can one person take. And as she points out mid-breakdown, she was not made for this, especially when you toss in the glaring-est of male gazes — expressed perfectly when she strolls into the courtroom, new haircut imposed upon her, to flashbulbs and the astonished stares of her male colleagues.
– Jason Thurston

Fresh Off the Boat – C

0309freshJessica needs Louis to take up pool, a hobby he enjoyed in DC, so she can have some interrupted girl time with Honey. But Jessica can’t leave him alone when he partners with Toni, because something about a man befriending a woman on a sitcom brings out the worst in the writer’s room and strong, independent female characters. After much back and forth, Louis is permitted to play with Toni, provided they never touch each other and are chaperoned by the staff of the neighborhood gay bar. A parallel, equally sexist, plot plays out with Eddie, when his crush Nicole becomes 1) single and 2) befriends his girlfriend. Eddie’s friends think this is a disaster, and it’s not, except that Eddie’s girlfriend had a crush on one of his friends, and of course he has a problem with that. Boo, how did the usually smart, funny show go down this too-beaten path?

– Katherine M. Hill

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