Culture

The Fix on Netflix: F is for Family animates the ’70s

F is for Family

Story by Ty Smith, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of ew.com

When Netflix first announced that they were going to start making their own content, I, along with most people, scoffed. Making shows were for cable networks, not Netflix. But ever since their first original premiered, Netflix has been proving us critics wrong. Sure, there are some flops (Ridiculous 6, anyone?), but who could imagine life now without Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, or Jessica Jones?  F is for Family is Netflix’s newest foray into the vast genre of animated sitcom, and, despite its brevity, already has me asking for a second season.

F is for Family is an animated family sitcom set in the early 70s, following the Murphy family, particularly the patriarch of the family, Frank. Frank is a classic grouchy TV dad from the 70’s. He spends his day working long hours at the local airport, then comes home to unwind in front of the television. He’s prone to drinking, angry rants, swearing, and unabashed sexism. Sue, Frank’s wife, spends her time taking care of the family and selling something called Plast-a-Ware from home. There are three lovely children to finish out the family, the oldest of whom is fourteen-year-old Kevin, a rebellious stoner who worships a band called Shire of Frodo. The two younger kids, Maureen and Bill, spend their time facing the sort of drama that neighborhood kids are prone to. The final main character is Vic, the classic party dude who lives next door.

So far, the show might just sound like a stereotypical crude animated sitcom, like Family Guy and American Dad, and in some ways, this isn’t wrong. The animation looks like a cross between King of the Hill and classic 70’s cartoons, and for most of the first episode, most of the characters are stock creations, with blank and one-dimensional personalities. But “F is for Family” is more than just a drawn-out joke about the 1970s. It’s smart and heartfelt, something that’s hard to do in a cartoon. The voice work and quality writing slowly bring the characters to life through the series, and you grow to like them. Frank is a complainer, and he lives his life entirely by failing to meet his definitions of masculinity and fathering, but as his hair continues to fall out and his belly begins to expand, you begin to feel for him. He works middle management at Mohican Airways, and he constantly is torn between the baggage handlers and the upper management, the former of whom are his friends and former colleagues, the latter of whom promise him money and power.

One of the best things about the show is how it can talk about sensitive topics and still make a joke while handling the topic with insight. An elderly German immigrant lives nearby, and the Murphy children are scared of him. In their minds, his accent means he’s a Nazi, and the numbers tattooed on his wrist are the number of people he killed in the war. He’s obviously a Holocaust survivor, and the show plays on this without crossing the line into insensitivity. This, along with many other details across the short season, build into something much more worthwhile than you might think.

If I had anything bad to say about the show, it’s that there are too few episodes. Coming in at six episodes for its first season, I can’t wait for a second —  and hopefully this one is longer.

About the Writer…

Ty SmithTy Smith is from a small town located in the thumb of Michigan. He loves writing, reading, music, and video games. He also believes that cats are better than dogs.

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