Season four episode six and episode seven of Netflix’s F is For Family were in my opinion two of the best episodes of the season thus far, especially with regard to storytelling. Normally, the show functions linearly, with the exception of flashbacks to show Frank or Sue previously in their lives. In episode six, the story unfolds as Frank describes a less than stellar week to his father, with whom he has begun to rekindle a relationship. In the next episode, the show changes its storytelling again by focusing entirely on Rosie, a secondary character and friend of Franks that works alongside him at Mohican Airlines. In episode seven, Rosie has just been elected as the first African American Alderman of his neighborhoods district. Both of these episodes showcase the ease with which the show’s writers can change its format and still deliver the high-quality content viewers are used to, as a result of their familiarity with the characters they have created.
In episode six, titled ‘Come to Papa’, Frank once again pledges to be a better father and husband to his family. When we first meet up with him he is dragging a new crib into his house without the assistance of anyone in his family. After being ignored by his children he has a small spat with Sue. His father comes in and Frank begins to tell him about the events of the previous week, as they share a drink from a flask.
Frank begins his story in Lamaze class, something he was forced into with Sue. The sessions are very touchy feely and are supposed to be emotional, which makes Frank uncomfortable. In his first session he is able to do what his is instructed to, but is horrified to say the least when he is shown a video of childbirth. An interesting thing to point out is that the Lamaze class leader is voiced by Amy Sedaris, who is well known for her work in TV and movies, notably in Bojack Horseman, another very popular Netflix animation original. Interceding the next portion of Frank’s week is a one on one conversation with his father, in which the two begin to bond and see each other with more familiar eyes. This is a great way to show their budding relationship without spending large swaths of time on tedious conversations that reveal such information directly.
On the next day of Franks week, he assists his friend from work, Rosie, in driving voters across town for his Alderman election using a fleet of vending machine delivery trucks owned by a man he used to work for.
Next, he gives both Maureen and Bill some advice that ends up being misconstrued by the children, turning them further against him just after he made decent progress. He tells Bill to continue acting tough on his hockey team, and encourages Maureen to go above and beyond in the play, even though she has a small part. Bill ends up hurting every player he can get his hands on in his hockey game, and Maureen ends up adding her own lines in the play. When he confronts the two of them for taking his advice a bit too far, they reject him again, saying that he is yelling at them for listening to him. This is a very interesting family dynamic that is portrayed incredibly realistically for a cartoon program.
After his week has been described and the crib constructed, Frank and his father, William, head to a nearby bridge to toss the old crib over. As the sun is setting, Frank brings up to his father that he has never hugged him, (a topic stemming from an earlier encounter with the Lamaze teacher, who berated Frank for being emotionally distant after he refused to by several ridiculous things recommended by the teacher). Following the two joking about how the situation was all BS, they embrace, and Frank sheds a tear. The dynamic between these two characters is one of the most intriguing in the show, because the two are such similar people and struggle to connect for that very reason. Frank hugging his father shows a near end to his arc, if he can keep from slipping back into his old ways as he has done in the past.
The next episode takes a very different storytelling position, by focusing entirely on a secondary character. Rosie, after being elected Alderman of his district, takes all of his unused sick days and sets out with a head full of confidence and ideas to improve his neighborhood. When he starts however, he is obstructed by racism and corruption at every turn. I was really impressed with this episode in particular, as the rest of the show is staunchly white. This is likely due to the fact that the show takes place in a rural suburb in 1970’s America and follows largely one family. Still, it is refreshing to see some more representation, especially with a character whose story is so captivating.
Rosie is the talk of the town as he asks his friends and neighbors what they would like to see done in their district, but things don’t go so smoothly when he meets the mayor for the first time. He rejects Rosie’s proposals, and says he could help him out if he votes to put a dog track where the library stands in his neighborhood; disgusted, Rosie turns down the offer. As a result, the mayor opens the fire hydrants, messes with the stop lights, and halts garbage collection in Rosie’s district, turning his constituents and friends against him. As the episode progresses, Rosie gets further into the mindset of a politician and seems to make more advances, just much more slowly than he had anticipated. Overall, the episode did an amazing job of sympathizing with the struggle of African Americans in their quest to gain representation through political office.
Both of these episodes exemplify the sharpness of the show writers. Episode six gives us a glimpse of a developing bond between Frank and William while progressing the rest of the family saga as well. Episode seven uses a popular secondary character to highlight some diversity in a largely white show though a legitimately intriguing and realistic portrayal of the battle against racism.