I’d much prefer to visit any other place than Easttown.
In some ways, kids are a little like tie-dye as a fashion statement: They’re colorful, chaotic and fun. They can be a little loud. And just when you think they’re gone forever, they come back.
More and more kids—adult kids, that is—are coming back these days to live with their parents, earning them the unofficial moniker of “boomerang generation.” It’d be nice to think they come back because they just love their parents too much to stay away. But, alas, most have “just” lost a job. Or gone through a bad divorce. They can’t afford a place of their own. And, suddenly, a once empty nest is burgeoning with a not-so-little chick who plans to stick around … for a while.
How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) offers a sitcom-eye view on what happens when a young, formerly independent woman moves back home. You see, Polly wasn’t always thrilled about living with her parents the first time around, and moving back smells like failure. She has her life to live, her daughter (Natalie) to raise and questionable values to embrace. But an untimely divorce paired with an economic downturn left her with little choice.
And as much as Polly’s parents—free-spirited mother Elaine and taciturn stepdad Max—love their little girl, the move can’t be easy for them either. After all, they’ve been building up their own lives sans kids. They’ve got wine to drink, parties to throw, sex to have. Perhaps that’s why they’re rooting so hard for Polly to meet a new, at least semi-permanent beau.
Not that that’ll happen anytime soon—not as long as this sitcom still has life. Even the show’s title—How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)—is built for the long haul. It nearly takes a full episode to say out loud. And its abbreviation doesn’t help much: HTLWYPFTROYL. You’re not going to waste that kind of linguistic acreage, which means Polly’s stuck in her parents’ house until either network execs cancel the series or rename it.
But, as Polly discovers, moving back in with Mom and Dad isn’t all bad. Family is family, after all—and there are worse things in life than having a mother and stepfather who truly love you and their blossoming grandchild.
Scattered bits of positivity seem to want to prove that. Polly is a devoted mother. She and her ex, Julian, balance child-rearing duties in (given the circumstances) a generally admirable way, complementing and supporting each other as they look to Natalie’s needs. Most episodes end with a small string of morals or lessons intended to leave audiences smiling tenderly.
None of that, of course, mitigates the crass sexual asides and allusions that litter the area like mounds of unwashed socks. Polly’s apt to hop into bed with a would-be paramour on the first date. And while there’s nothing wrong with Elaine and Max enjoying each other’s physical company, one has to wonder whether we should hear or see so much about it. Slapstick violence and rather morbid asides also take up residence, and Elaine seems rarely to be without a drink in her hand.
Let’s put things this way: HTLWYPFTROYL wants to come to your house. It’d like to stay for a while—maybe just a few episodes, but if all goes well, it could be around for several years. It’s not asking for much, just a little space in your living room, a half-hour of your time every week or so.
Maybe part of you would like to show it some affection. Give it a warm welcome home. But sometimes, if you want my fatherly advice, it’s best to engage in some tough love. “Sorry,” you might say. “I’d like to help. Really I would. But I think it’d be best for you not to come in right now. I think you just need to grow up a little first.”
“How to Live With the Academy Awards Party”
Elaine and Max throw an Oscar party. Polly invites an old flame, then asks her parents to tell him that the house is hers (not theirs) and that she’s a professional environmental crusader (not a clerk at a market). If that doesn’t get the guy into her bed, Polly plans to get him drunk and strip off her shirt in front of him—telling a co-worker that her breasts will surely wow him. (She’s named them Kyra and Sedgwick, because together they’re The Closer.)
She watches video of this guy ogling her rear. The two kiss when Polly’s wearing just a bra and pantyhose. And they wind up sleeping together. (We see them under the covers; Elaine walks in on them but pretends she didn’t see anything.) A woman talks about guys wanting oral sex. There’s an “accidental” joke about saving “sperms.”
People drink lots of wine and champagne, the latter straight from the bottle. A party guest has his cheek stabbed with a tiny microphone, leaving a painful-looking wound. References are made to suicide, drug use, gunfire and incest. God’s name is misused nearly a dozen times.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.
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