You would think that in a short series featuring six key figures, it would be difficult to give each character due time, but somehow, the pacing of Angry Boys works the opposite way. Instead of focusing on all the characters in each episode, Lilley picks only a few, unfortunately not always with an ear for which stories will be of interest to the audience over the long term, so some plotlines drag. An example of when the pacing goes right is in Episode 7, where Daniel is forced to hang out with a gay classmate named Henry as punishment for his proclivity for using the word “fag.” Over the course of the episode, not only do the two boys become friendly, Daniel is even open-minded enough to enjoy his new friendship in front of his other mates. But in Episode 8, however, Daniel’s travails with Chloe, a girl he likes but who prefers his twin, felt overlong. Simply one scene of him pestering her at the video store could have been enough, and I don’t exactly empathize with a character who thinks that handing a girl something he’s rubbed against his privates counts as wooing.
Unfortunately, I think this is the baseline of Angry Boys: several interesting, well-developed characters are forced to share time with less-substantial and captivating characters with uneven results when it comes to plotting. Gran’s final scene tonight was lovely but we also had to once again watch S.mouse make a fool of himself in the name of establishing his identity. So tonight’s episodes gave us some good moments, but felt frustratingly stagnant in other respects.
In Episode 7, Tim Okazaki continues to be a slightly sullen teenager towards his mother (which Jen interprets as “very aggressive”). Not surprisingly, a doctor diagnoses Tim as being overworked and depressed, but of course Jen’s attempts to relax him backfire. She takes on the voiceover duties for his cartoon, against his wishes, offers to have the maid jerk him off and buys him a puppy in which he is completely disinterested, even after Jen basically puts the puppy on his head. The Okazakis are the characters in which I'm least emotionally invested (next to S.mouse), but Jen has at least one moment each episode that keeps me laughing, and tonight it was when she Heisman’ed her tiny daughter, running to her for a hug. “Get away!”
As I said above, the interesting Daniel storyline was offset by a neverending S.mouse story. How come S.mouse shows up more frequently than Gran? Gran is so much better than S.mouse. In the episode, he and his friends head to the mall in hopes that he’ll get recognized by his fans, but unsurprisingly, very few do (I liked the detail that the girl in the mall wasn’t screaming because she saw him, but because she dropped her ice cream.) S.mouse’s father once again expresses disappointment in his son (why does he let Danthony and LaSquisha, S.mouse’s enablers, in the house?) and S.mouse gets to work on a song called “Wack my Knee” in yet another attempt to become relevant again. If the character isn’t funny like Jen or actually human like the twins or Gran, I’m not sure what he brings to the series.
It was nice seeing Daniel have a mature moment in tonight’s episode. While he didn’t feel any remorse in regards to throwing the word “fag” around, he at least made a new friend and learned not to judge a book by its cover. It was interesting how Nathan was fairly absent from the story (which I thought worked out fine.) It’s funny how inconsistent the boys’ parents when it comes to keeping their kids disciplined. Steve is remarkably patient for a guy whose kids and stepkids regularly call him a “fucking faggot.”
But the boys’ story felt insignificant again by Episode 8. It may be of interest to know that Nathan is successful when it comes to girls (although probably not surprising, since he seems more sincere and thoughtful than his brother, “sneaky balls” aside), but Daniel’s attempts to court Chloe were as tedious for me as as they were for her. However, I am always a sucker for when one twin dresses up like another twin and they’re both played by the same actor (See: Parent Trap.)
Blake may have taken one step forward last week with his attempts to inspire young boys, but he took two steps back tonight. After putting the kids to bed, Ashley, a friend of Blake’s who just got out of prison, shows up and asks to borrow the van. Ashley is bad news, and before we know it, Blake’s in trouble with the cops because his van was spotted driving away from the scene where Packo (the guy who blew off Blake’s nuts) was shot. Blake’s story moved quite quickly tonight, although unfortunately as a character he neither makes me laugh nor has made me feel much of a connection, so the story didn’t grip me as much as I wish it had.
Maybe they should have titled the series “Gran and the Boys,” because for me, Gran steals every episode she’s in. Tonight, she gets the inmates ready for Family Day, teaching them a dance to “Smack My Elbow.” Not surprisingly, Talib’s mother doesn’t show up for the performance, but Gran asks the boy to perform the dance anyway, which he does, for her. Afterwards, in an attempt to get him to talk, she asks Talib to tell her a secret of his in exchange for one of hers. “My mum hates me,” he confesses, which Gran refuses to accept. The timing of her own reveal was quite wonderful, tense without being drawn-out: Gran tells the boy that she has Alzheimer’s.
Did you see this coming? I’m going to confess that a few weeks ago I spoiled myself by reading ahead in the series on Wikipedia, so I noticed when Gran forgot about her meeting with the supervisor, but it was touched upon so briefly, it didn’t seem like an obviously clue. Touchingly, after reassuring Talib that sometimes forgetting stuff can be funny, Gran changes the subject and begins worrying about whether Talib’s wearing sunscreen.
So I did read ahead but not so closely that I remember what’s coming between now and the finale. Do you think that we’re going to see much of anything substantial between now and the series’ ending when it comes to Blake, Jen or S.mouse, or are they just filler, or when it comes to the stories that really matter, it’s all going to come down to Gran and the twins?
--“Twins both pissed off. Same feelings. Fuck yes!”
--”This toast is faggy.”
--Will S.mouse’s mom ever speak? Finale or never?
-- “Get out of my way ‘cause I’m gay”.
-- “It’s offensive to fags if you call them fags.”
-- “What’s it like being a fag? Good?”
-- “I’m swearing his clothes. I’m wearing my own clothes.”