I Feel Bad 1×03 “I Lie to My Kids” has little kernels of good comedy and writing, but right now, it is just BAD.
The biggest mistake the show makes is continuing to emphasize the nerd bros, instead of Emet, her parents and her daughter Lily. I’ll go into the big mistake I Feel Bad makes with Emet’s son, Louis, in a bit. It’s bad too, folks.
The nerd bros on I Feel Bad 1×03 “I Lie to My Kids” are given an ample B-plot. This kills the episode. Dead, desiccated, donezo.
The nerd bros are only interesting and useful as a way to illustrate or highlight the struggles and development Emet goes through. On I Feel Bad 1×02 “I Get Sick of Being Needed” the nerd bros use their game design skills to give Emet a tranquil oasis, her “20 minutes,” right in the office.
Even though there isn’t much character depth or development to be found, at least there is a connection to the core ethos of the episode: women need guilt-free time away from their many responsibilities.
On “I Lie to My Kids,” the nerd bros go on a quest to have roof access. It is supposedly a parallel to Emet’s desire for access to the Honor Roll Fast Track drop-off line at her kids’ school.
The parallel flops. The nerd bros, who remain indistinguishable from each other, seem to have a self-esteem crisis because the sports nerd bros have more social capital than they do. They want privileges and to seem cool. Emet just wants to get to school and work on time, for once.
I find I don’t connect or care much about either struggle. Really, I am just wondering when we are going to see any of them, Emet included, actually work.
I don’t care about the roof or their self-esteem. The show hasn’t built any character or personality or emotionality for the nerd bros, so it is wasted time on a 30-minute show. The only way out of this hole is if there is a romance between nerd bro characters or if Emet “adopts” one of them to help them through a big struggle.
I don’t have much confidence in I Feel Bad rescuing the nerd bro characters. Better to jump ship entirely, kind of like what Parks and Rec did with Leslie’s main love interest from Season 1.
It is also eye-roll-inducing that a show supposedly about a mom who is a woman of color in a male-dominated field spends nearly half of its time on a homogenous group of young, abled, straight white men.
Bad Mama Jama
I Feel Bad‘s “I Lie to My Kids” is also BAD when it comes to its treatment of education and intelligence.
Louie and Norman are the only two characters on I Feel Bad who are not thin. Both of them are portrayed as idiots. Large people face the stigma of being lazy and unintelligent. I Feel Bad wantonly leans into these harmful stereotypes by giving the only representations of non-thin people on the show that character trait of stupidity. What a fail.
We actually see Emet stuffing Louis’s mouth with food in an opening scene. Not great, not great.
The way that the show handles accolades and motivation for learning is also BAD. When Louis learns that he’s on the honor roll he suddenly begins to believe in himself.
This starts off promising because that is a truism. We perform at the level that others expect of us. Maybe Louis has been underperforming because of how his parents have been treating him!
But, no. All of that potential is thrown away. First, it is clear throughout the entire episode that there is no way Louis is actually “smart.” He is a joke.
Emet doesn’t believe in him at any point. In fact, that is the “lie” in the title of the episode “I Lie to My Kids.” Emet’s main lie is that her son is smart.
And, in the end, he never believed in himself either or even wanted to succeed in academics.
As a teacher and a parent, my soul cries watching this fixed mindset.
Overall, the episode is a dud. But, there are a couple good kernels. Emet’s mom Maya is a good kernel.
Her Instagram obsession is funny and her hashtags are pretty entertaining.
And I like the point: for moms, Instagram creates an impossible glossy standard that can debilitate people who don’t measure up. Emet is trying to do it all. She is failing at everything, a very relatable reality. This is me on a daily basis.
Instagram is one culprit feeding us the lie that we should be able to do it all and do it all in an attractive filter.
I won’t say the point is well-executed. But, I will say that I Feel Bad is hitting on some very real struggles of adulting as a woman.
I will stick with I Feel Bad and suggest you do too because there is plenty of time to course correct away from the nerd bros.
What did you think of I Feel Bad 1×03 “I Lie to My Kids”? Let us know in the comments!
I Feel Bad airs Thursdays 9:30/8:30c on NBC.