Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)

How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)
Episode 11: How to Not Waste Money
By: Carlos Uribe

How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) is a show about a single mother who moves in with her parents right after a divorce.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The main plot of “How to Not Waste Money” is basically right there in the title. Max might own his own comedy clubs but he's managed to remain wealthy by taking care of his money. He'll turn off lights, remind Polly to watch how long she takes a hot shower, and dictate how much shampoo she can use. His directions annoy Polly because she wants to be able to buy anything she wants without thinking about the fiscal impact on Max. When he finds out that she plans to throw away $600 worth of discount coupons she bought and forgot about with his money, he makes her go through with them all. I think it says a lot when she justifies her initial purchase. She wanted them, didn't have the money, so she used Max's credit card. She didn't see an option for not buying them at the moment. She's impulsive but she remains sheltered from reality. She might have lived with her husband and she might be a single mother but she doesn't truly understand the value of money. Max is trying his best to make her realize that conserving money is a worthwhile venture but she resists because she resents all the draconian rules he forces on her. Her attitude changes when she learns that Max put her in his will because he wanted to make sure that she was able to survive if something were to happen with him. She's able to realize that while his rules might seem stiff and cruel, they exist for a reason. He doesn't want her to live in a world where she wouldn't be able to buy expensive discount coupons because there really was no money for her to use. He wants her needs to be fulfilled as well as her wants. He just wants her to be prudent about it. It's a good way to develop the Max-Polly relationship as well as show how living with her parents impacts and protects her. She has to live under their rules but she doesn't have to know the real value of money. She doesn't have to live in poverty. The main plot doesn't have the heart as other episodes but that's primarily because this was an early episode. It was still funny but it didn't have as much emotional impact.

The sub-plot of the episode has to do with Elaine. She has lost her car keys for the hundredth time. She doesn't want to admit it because it would just lead to another lecture from Max. That is a problem with Max. He might be looking out for them but his lecturing has made them wary of admitting the truth to them. Elaine has struggled to live her life without being able to leave the house but she didn't want to tell Max they needed new car keys to avoid getting lectured. When he finally notices their low on groceries, he tries to get her to admit their lost but she refuses. She doesn't want to lose. When he's gone, she looks everywhere for the car keys so that she can show him that she didn't lose them. Where were the car keys? It turned out that Max had them in his coat pocket the whole time. He doesn't want to admit this to Elaine and his daughter isn't willing to keep his secret at first. That is until she realizes that he acts to protect her so she decides she won't say anything. Max offers to get Elaine new car keys even as she continues to protest she didn't lose them. The sub-plot has the perfect ending at the end of the episode. Elaine, who has quit smoking, has gone outside to catch a cigarette from a pack she had buried earlier with Natalie. Just as she lights up, she catches a glimpse of Max about to throw away her keys. It's a perfect moment of the two being caught in an uncompromising situation: Elaine about to smoke despite having assured people she's quit while Max is throwing away the evidence that it was his fault that she had lost her key. It's a great moment where the two decide to simply forget what they saw for their own convenience.

So how I know this is an early episode? It has everything to do with Julian. The series reminds us for like the hundredth time that Julian idolizes Max but Max hates him. I'm not sure why the writers keep bringing this up. Do they think we've forgotten or do they have doubts about the writing or the performances to carry that message through? Do they think if the narrator doesn't tell us that we'll think Max has suddenly started to like Julian while Julian started to hate him? I don't know. Anyways, Max is harping on Julian for not having a job so Julian gets one. He's a mascot for the yogurt shop that he used to work at earlier in the season. He tries to keep it a secret because he doesn't think Max will approve but he's delighted when Max does. At least Julian has a job which is better than being unemployed. The sub-plot is okay but it's coming in really late. Timing can matter and it simply dates this episode compared to the rest of the series. I'm not sure why this episode aired so late since it wasn't really bad or anything.

How to Not Waste Money was a good episode of How to Live with Your Parents. It was funny. The main plot with the money had a lot of great moments between Sarah Chalke and Brad Garret. The two pair surprisingly well. The sub-plot with Elaine and Natalie worked as well. That ending shot was simply glorious. The finale note is that Julian gets his job here. This isn't as funny and he feels as extra as he always does but he does get a few good laughs this week. Overall: it could have used a bigger sense of purpose for it's characters and heart future episodes would have but it's still a strong half-hour of comedy.

Other Notes:

It's a bit questionable that Max didn't see the charges on his credit card bill or how Polly was able to maintain her lifestyle when Julian didn't have a job.

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