Wednesday, 13 January 2016

F Is For Family is Brutally Honest...

By Gregory Robinson

Some people enjoy sitcoms which whisk them away from their daily struggles whereas others like raw sitcoms, which find humour in the struggles of life.

F is for Family is certainly the latter, but is by no means a gloomy show. Frank is a disillusioned, quick to anger, short-tempered, Korean War veteran, father of three. He is prone to angry, profanity laden rants. Despite referring to his children as “animals”, Frank does indeed care deeply for his family. He works as a baggage handler at the local Mohican Airlines, and is promoted to management after his boss dies on the job.

F is For Family flourishes when it deviates from the regular mould of the family sitcom. You know the ones where every episode ends happily and the audience taught a lesson about how to live like the perfect sitcom family. The melancholic tone of the show, which reaps with angst and tough love is what makes F is For Family great. While the first episode is a slightly shaky at times as the relatively short six episode season draws to a close, it becomes clear F is For Family is a show with a lot of life in it, and has the potential to become one of the most intriguing, funny and realistic animated family comedies airing right now. The show was created by Bill Burr (who also voices the main character Frank) and The Simpsons alum Michael Price. F is For Family's dedication to developing its characters through witty and multi-layered plots echo the tone of early Simpsons episodes we all mourn.

While the vast majority of animated comedies centred around families are sprouted from the Fox Network, and even more are spewed by Seth Macfarlane, the dark albeit crude humour and the unique pacing and development of characters is a breath of fresh air into the genre. The toxic yet loving relationship between the show's kids; Kevin, Maureen and Bill is fun to watch. The second episode, "Saturday Bloody Saturday" is simply splendid as it shows the father-son relationship between Frank and Kevin after Kevin takes a job for the day at his Father's airport baggage station. The episode ends with a familiar realness which is ultimately a  brutally honest depiction of working life.

I am puzzled as to why there aren't more animated family comedies which push the content of their plots to the limits. Continuity is another interesting albeit under appreciated aspect of animated comedy, and it would be fairly easy to overlook it within Family. Whether it's --- history assignments and the possibility of flunking out of school, or --- burning an entire forest down partly due to a Halloween bully, the continuity gives the show a sense of realism.

One of best aspects of the show is it just so "happens to be set in the 1970s". It's not a period tribute show like the The Goldbergs. The shows closest sibling would be That 70s Show, not just based on the fact both shows take place within the 70s, but the characters of Red and Frank and --- and Kitty often mirror each other. The animation is slick the voice acting is great and realistic and most of all the writing is superb and painfully honest. There may never have been a more honest portrayal of a dysfunctional suburban family, which conveys the combatting love and frustration daily life entails. 

UPDATE: F Is For Family has been renewed for a 10 episode second season!!!

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