About a year and a half ago, I created what remains to be my most controversial review with The Young Folks. After binge watching the Netflix original series in a matter of a day or two, this writer came to the conclusion that the first season of F is for Family was terrible. The jokes were extremely uninspired and gross for the sake of being disgusting, the characters were merely one-dimensional stereotypes and one couldn’t get behind central father of the household Frank Murphy from the beginning. So I gave it the low score of 2 out of 10. Needless to say, the fans of the Netflix series were not happy. Some agreed with my points about the show, while others just politely disagreed and voiced why they enjoyed it. Others, however, wanted me fired from the website or to outright die for disliking an animated show. One exact quote went along the lines of:
“I hope you get cancer, then get hit by a car, and shot by a bullet that is laced with aids.”
A year and a half later, cancer free and having not either been run over or shot by an aids gun, I decided it’d only be appropriate to sit down and review season two of the show I didn’t like. It wasn’t about trolling all the naysayers to make a point that this show wasn’t good, it just seemed appropriate that the guy so many people had hoped would be fired over a single review, ended up critiquing the sophomore year of the very same show. And to my surprise, the second season of F is Family ends up being a considerable improvement over what the first season had to offer, even if it’s just risen itself up from abysmal, to average.
F is for Family is an adult animated Netflix sitcom starring Bill Burr as main character Frank Murphy. Having lost his job during the events of season one, Frank finds himself depressed and without purpose. With money becoming tight, wife Sue (Laura Dern) decides to join the workforce. However, working with a plastic Tupperware manufacturer proves more difficult than predicted, thanks to the blatant sexism that runs rampant throughout the company. Unlikely to be hired back by his former employer, Frank decides he’ll take any job he can get his hands on, no matter how much it could damage his marriage and family.
Fellow critics are commenting that what makes season two such a success is the giant beating heart behind this season’s stories, and they’re mostly right. Frank Murphy is much more sympathetic this time around, as he’s actually given time to sit down with his family and relate to their problems. We, as an audience, can finally see his state of mind now that he has a much more distinguished obstacle in his way (losing his job), as opposed to just being a bitter husband and father like in the original season. We even finally get some development from the Murphy children, such as daughter Maureen (Debi Derryberry) turning out to be a smart girl trapped in an era that demands she be “lady-like,” and sons Bill (Haley Reinhart) dealing with growing up, and Kevin (Justin Long) having a band. It’s all so much more distinct this time around, thanks to how interesting the family can finally be.
The problem, however, still lies with the series’ dreadfully painful attempts at adult humor. While the quips actually got a few laughs out of me this time around, the majority of jokes were gross out gags about male and female genitalia, vomit, feces, urine, whatever you think would make a thirteen year old laugh hysterically is here. And while it would be incorrect to say their isn’t an audience for that stuff, the adult jokes in F is for Family aren’t done to satirize or make social commentary like fellow programs South Park or Rick and Morty, the writers here just throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. Unsurprisingly, most of the jokes don’t land because of this.
And while the heart is more apparent here in season two, the narrative itself doesn’t even really start picking up until the last couple of episodes, where everything really starts falling into place. Sure, they set up Frank and Sue’s backstory from the get go, and it was definitely one of the season’s highlights, but every other subplot feels like filler. The hillbilly children Maureen hung out with were gratingly unfunny, Kevin’s band-mates were forgettable at best, and the sexed up neighbor Vic (Sam Rockwell) is an epicenter for some of the worst attempts at humor the season can offer. What’s even more of a pain is that they don’t just show up once or twice, they’re in most of the episodes. You’ll dread every time you see them pop up on-screen, because they do little more than to stretch the run time out to the already short 25 minute mark. In other words, when the story isn’t actually focused on the Murphy family as a whole, the direction of the entire narrative suffers.
While there’s something to be commended when a show fixes itself up from the scattershot mess that was its season one, those one or two moments of heart in each episode aren’t nearly enough to pull the show up completely. When we aren’t focused on the struggles of the characters trying to navigate suburban life in the 1970’s, we’re stuck watching juvenile and uninspired humor with some outright terrible side stories. But at the very least, this author was interested in finishing the season. Wouldn’t watch it again, wouldn’t recommend it to newcomers, but established fans of the series will definitely be happy here. The sum of its parts don’t mesh all that well together, but an average animated sitcom is still better than an abysmal one. However, while the sophomore year of F is for Family is a considerable improvement over the first, thanks to the beating heart behind some episodes’ stories, it isn’t enough to distract from the low brow gags and uninspired direction.