Inside Pulse 12

10 Thoughts on F is for Family – Bill Murphy’s Day Off

In the darkest episode yet of F is for Family, things go from bad to worse for the Murphy family, culminating in the most catastrophic mistake of young Bill’s life. The darkness that has been lurking at the corners of the show has come into the light, as it were, cementing it as an experience worth your time, if not in the same league as shows like Rick and Morty or BoJack Horseman. In today’s episode, Bill attempts to quell a labor dispute and get tickets for Kevin to see his favorite band. Meanwhile, Bill has been suspended but chooses not to tell his father for fear of repercussions, so instead takes a (disastrous) day off. And Sue grapples with the responsibilities of her new job.

Here are some thoughts.

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1. Today, we see the other side of Jimmy

Jimmy, Bill’s bully, apparently has a creative side. The opening of the episode saw him making an elaborate bird house in shop class, clearly enjoying himself. And as he brings it outside, glowing with pride and well being, out of nowhere comes Bill, and sucker punches him right in the face, causing Jimmy to drop the bird house and shattering it on the concrete. It’s a neat trick the show pulls. By giving us the briefest glimpse into Jimmy’s personal life, we feel bad for Jimmy when his art is destroyed. And we kinda feel like maybe Bill deserves whatever’s coming to him.

2. As well as seeing Bill grapple with his own masculinity

This attack is in direct response to the climax of yesterday’s episode, which had Jimmy beating the crap out of Bill for daring to dress up for Halloween. It’s the first time a storyline has been carried across episodes for Bill, and it’s fascinating how it plays into the character arc as a whole. Bill is fed up with being called a pussy, so when Maureen saves him from being beat up a second time by Jimmy, it’s not a victory. It’s an extremely humiliating moment for him, with the whole school (including Jimmy’s janitor father) circles him and calls him a pussy. And when he gets suspended, he knows telling his father he got in trouble is not an option. So he doesn’t. And he takes the day off.

3. It’s official: Maureen is a sociopath

In the first scene of the series featuring just the three children in a room together, Kevin convinces Bill to forge his father’s signature on the suspension release. But now Maureen has leverage over him. Bill begs her to not tell their father. “Give me a dollar,” she says. Bill does, and she rips it up, then walks away giggling. Later, Bill stands outside the school, contemplating what he’ll do on his “day off.” All he has to eat is the sandwich his mother packed for him. Maureen comes up to him. “Give me your sandwich,” she says. He does, and this too she rips up and throws on the ground. And walks away giggling. She is utterly terrifying.

4. Frank is trying so hard

In this episode, the first round of contract negotiations happen at 3:30 am in a children’s pizza restaurant. And they go very, very poorly. Frank does his very best to be the voice of reason, trying to bridge the gap between the two sides, but he gets shouted down every step of the way. Then later, Sue and Frank discuss being kinder to Kevin, because he’s trying really hard at school. And they decide to get tickets for Kevin to see his favorite group, “The Shire of Frodo.” But when they find it’s sold out, Frank has to take some humbling measures.

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5. Finally, we got some time with Vic

Turns out, Vic works for the radio station that’s hosting the event. So Frank asks him if there’s any way he can get them tickets to see the concert. Vic, easy going guy that he is, says of course and brings Frank to the radio station. This is where we see that Vic is most definitely a holdover from the 60’s era. Every one at the station is playing grab-ass with him, and he has piles of cocaine, weed, and money in a drawer. It was fun to see Vic in his element for a bit, if only for one scene. Sam Rockwell is always a delight.

6. Bill has lost his innocence

After drifting around town for a spell, Bill decides to go home and spend the rest of the afternoon lazing around. So he hides out and waits for his mom to leave, and then spends the afternoon watching terrible daytime TV. Bored, he starts roaming around the house and ends up in his parent’s room. Just at that moment, his mother returns home and he’s forced to hide, which he does, under the bed. His mom comes in, and his father arrives moments later. He comes up stairs and they almost immediately start fighting. In the course of a few minutes, Bill learns a few sobering things: 1) His brother Kevin spent two minutes underwater when he was a toddler, possibly leading to brain damage, 2) his father thinks he’s a pussy, and 3) his parents are not in a happy marriage. Worst of all, their fighting makes the startling transition into passionate sex, with Bill still hiding under the bed. He pokes his head out, trying to escape, and is treated to a full on view of his father’s testicles and asshole. He retreats under the bed and waits for it to be over. Later, over dinner, his father makes a playful reference to Sue about the sex, and Bill promptly vomits all over the table.

7. Poor Kevin. Really. 

Besides us finding out that he might have brain damage, Kevin is having a hard time. He’s really trying in school, and the best he can muster is a C in History. But this is counted as a win. And when he finally gets to go see his favorite band perform, he finds out they’re the opening act to a band called “Lifted Riffs,” a sort of mash-up between Led Zeppelin and Spinal Tap. They get about thirty seconds into a song before they get booed mercilessly, and the frontman gets beaned in the head with a bottle. Life is full of disappointments, but this one must sting extra hard for Kevin. He’s really been trying to be better, and as a reward he gets to see his heroes lambasted and humiliated.

8. The Murphy’s can’t catch a break

Frank’s company and job are in major peril, Sue is barely keeping her head above water with her new job, Kevin is still mired in mediocrity and angst, and Bill has lost his innocence along with a few other things. Maureen seems to be the only one with some semblance of content. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m really rooting for this family, but their luck is just not good right now.

9. God, I hate that diaper kid

Bill leaves the house and the TV on and this fucking kid just wanders in and sits down to watch. God, he’s so fucking weird. I’m not sure what is purpose in the show is, but I find him incredibly annoying.

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10. Bill has royally fucked up

In a fit of rage after hearing what his father had to say about him, Bill storms over to Jimmy’s clubhouse, looking for round 2 of their fight. Instead, he finds it empty, save for a box of fireworks. He lights one up and starts screaming for Jimmy to come out and fight him. But Jimmy is up in his room, working on what looks like a marionette puppet. In all his screaming bravado, Bill accidentally sets the clubhouse and the whole box of fireworks ablaze, creating a massive explosion. Sue, Frank, and Kevin drive up to their house only to see the entire forest on fire. Bill is standing with the firemen. He asks his father to sign a paper stating Bill’s responsibility. The irony is palpable, and now the whole family is in a lot of trouble.

Check back in Monday for the conclusion of season one of F is for Family.

And check out previous reviews of F is for Family below!

F is for Family – F is for Halloween

F is for Family – The Trough

F is for Family – Saturday Bloody Saturday

F is for Family – The Bleedin’ Sweden

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