Tuesday, April 2, 2013

1600 Penn

1600 Penn
Episode 12: Bursting the Bubble
Episode 13: Marry Me, Baby
By: Carlos Uribe

1600 Penn is a show about a normal family that happens to reside in the White House.

Spoilers Ahoy!

Ah, and so the show ends.

Bursting the Bubble:

What does the title of the episode refer to? It's the concept that the First Family lives in a bubble because their status. Everybody wants to please them so that they can be in the same social circle. They laugh at all the President's lame jokes and staunch feminists will agree with Emily's anti-woman rants. When they enter a room, their presence tends to dominate. There really isn't a conflict. Emily doesn't want Dale to come to her poker games because she doesn't want him to suck all the attention up. She believes that they are her friends until she realizes that they are treating her the same way they treat Dale. That's basically it. They to comfort each other at the end because they might be in a bubble but at least they have each other to keep themselves honest. The episode does end with them starting to play video games because the anonymity gaming provides allows them to receive the criticisms they seek from other people. It's actually sort-of interested the role that video games play in this episode. On the one hand, a person as competitive as Becca quickly becomes addicted to them but on the other hand they basically allow the President and the First Lady to leave their bubble. It's almost as if the episode is trying to state that video games can have good and bad sides without actually going ahead and doing so.

That's right: Becca gets addicted to video games. The writers feel like she wouldn't just pick up a controller but she needs a reason. This manifests itself when she's supposed to ensure that her younger siblings do homework. Becca sees it as a way for DB and her to practice raising children. When the kids comment that the reason they're not playing a video game is because it's too challenging, Becca decides that it's a great opportunity for a lesson. She takes over the controller in order to master the game. This will in theory allow her to teach the two kids how to overcome any obstacle, no matter the difficulty. Only she gets so embroiled in the game that it just drives the two away from video games and into doing homework. That's partially due to DB. He was addicted to video games once to the point where he never plays anymore. He uses his previous “experience” to addiction to show the kids what too much gaming can do. It's a decent idea for the plot but it never really works because the writers couldn't come up with any good material. It's the same jokes that have been done before on better shows. We're not dealing with cutting-edge material here.

As if to prove my point, the Skip plot is a perfect example. He gets paired with a princess from the country of Andorra. I'll admit: this episode gets a lot of points for bringing Andorra into the story. It's one of my favorite countries to research simply because it's so tiny. The princess wants to spend the day with Skip because she's under the impression that he's the bad boy in the family. Skip is delighted to have the opportunity of a storybook romance. That is until the princess reveals that her only intentions is to cut lose and have some party. It's basically a character that has been done to death before: the perfect princess whose secretly a wild party animal. Been there, done that. The writers don't add anything new to make it worthwhile. The only thing it really led to is to have the girl Skip has a crush on realizing that she's actually starting to like Skip back. So I guess there's that but it's not like I'm invested in their relationship.

Marry Me, Baby:

The most surprising aspect about Marry Me, Baby is that until the cliff-hanger ending, it acts as a  decent series finale that mostly provides closure. It's able to actually wrap up a lot of dangling plot threads. It's almost as if the writers realized that this might be the only season that they get. They don't know for sure which might explain why they put in a cliff-hanger. So what's this episode about? It all starts when the President makes the comment to Larry King that he doesn't think weddings are important. This starts a political crisis that threatens to sink his Presidency. The show tries to make a comment on how even the wrong wedding dress can sink the presidency due to the 24-hour news cycle. After all, the media doesn't have anything better to do than to report on fake controversies. This is a bit true but it rings false. There is no way that the White House is going to be lost just because the First Lady chose to go with a badly polled dress. That's because the wedding would have to be remarkably close to the election day to really still be on the mind of the voters. Considering how it's implied in the previous episode that they still have three more years before they're booted out and it's hard to really take it's commentary on the impact of the media seriously.

On the other hand, it was spot-on in other regards. The media does like to create controversy over nothing. They can turn the President's off-hand remarks and really use it to criticize his character. There's even a point where the political pundits start demanding that Dale show his wedding license because the courthouse has no record of it. It's reminiscent of the birther nonsense that the Obama administration had to endure. It's just the impact that I call into question. President Obama's birth, religion, sexuality, and everything else about him has been a point of attack by conservative pundits but he was still able to win re-election. The point is that just because the media makes it a big deal doesn't mean that the election is going to be lost. It's really all just an excuse so that the finale can have a wedding. Dale and Emily decide to host one so that they can settle the controversy down. Skip tries his best to make the wedding memorable while Becca and DB try to figure out their future together. DB realizes the reason that Becca doesn't want to marry him is because he's basically going nowhere with his life so he decides to join the navy. His absence from the wedding makes Becca realize that she actually does love him. The one complaint I have is that this whole talk about how they got married but we never find out what happened to Dale's first wife. We still don't know anything about their past so the whole plot always rings false.

So what was the end of the show? Dale and Emily go through with their wedding ceremony even when they find the lost marriage license. It's sweet and allows them to have a visual representation of the dedication they have towards each other. Skip and the Asian girl he's been crushing on finally get together as she admits that she likes him. The kids basically are just there because they've never really contributed to the show other than as plot devices. Becca and Emily have a scene that shows that they might not always see eye to eye but they have formed a relationship. Becca does have her baby but then the cliff-hanger comes. She has just realized that she's in love with DB but the baby isn't his. It turns out to have been Marshall's this entire time. Surely this will create a lot of conflict and confusion in the theoretical second season. A season that probably isn't going to come and I'm not going watch if it does. This show is probably doomed but I don't care if it's renewed or not: this is a show with no ambition and has nothing to offer me. It sadly never did.

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