One of the easiest things to criticize on a new show, especially a team-centered one, is balance. Usually, balance is nonexistent, a nice possibility for an uncertain future instead of anything remotely resembling what the show is actually doing, or even attempting.
Enter Whiskey Cavalier.
Some people confuse balance with the idea that on an ensemble show of sorts, which this is, everyone needs to have equal air time. That’s not exactly what balance is. Balance is about feeling like you know more or less the same about every character, like you understand them in equal measure, and can, for that reason, relate to them in equal measures.
The main characters in this show are clearly Will and Frankie, and everything this show tries to be is based on their interactions and their differences, but that doesn’t mean Jai, Edgar, Susan and even Ray, are just there as window dressing or to advance Will and Frankie’s story-lines. They’re there as fully realized characters with their own issues and fears and triumphs.
And this makes the show all the easier to root for.
So, let’s go into the dynamics of “Spain, Trains and Automobiles,” and discuss the tropes, the friendships and the possibilities.
WILL & FRANKIE
The Will and Frankie discussion goes two ways. One, the two of them have been swimming in tropes in a way that sometimes makes me stop and actually catch my breath because is this actually happening? Have these writers been reading fanfic and then just going through a checklist of what we want? Have we actually gotten that lucky?
Of course, the answer is yes and no. Part of the thing about tropes, about fanfic, that we like, is that, well, no one is re-inventing the wheel. You just take two characters you like and throw all the stereotypes their way and just, play around with their reactions. That’s it, that’s fanfic for you. And that’s exactly what Whiskey Cavalier is doing.
Now, if you ask me, their intention is not to play out all our fanfiction fantasies, but to subvert the typical genre expectations. They’re trying really hard not to be Castle, for example, even if the characters might sometimes be alike in some respects, by taking all the aspects of those procedurals we used to love, and just leaning into the good and cutting out the fat, so to speak.
And there’s a lot of fat to be cut out.
The other aspect is one of, well, despite all the tropes, adding a pinch of reality to the relationship between Will and Frankie. Because these are two people who obviously feel a spark when they’re together, who have a connection, and also who have decided to become friends, and work on their friendship, first and foremost.
Adulting at its finest.
Which is also what makes them an even more unshakable OTP. What do you want from a partner, not just in the field, but in life? Someone who understands you, someone who will go to any lengths not just to protect you, but to be there for you, and someone who wants your happiness above everything.
That’s what Whiskey Cavalier is building with Fiery Whiskey, and it’s beautiful to see.
ARE YOU FRIEND OR FOE?
Look, I want to, I really want to believe Emma is just Will 2.0 and that she’s kind and trusting and that’s why she’s essentially all in from the beginning, and also why she just brushes off what looked like a very, ahem, charged situation between Will and Frankie. I want to believe that she just trusts Will that much, and knows Will is a stand-up guy who would never lie to her.
But I don’t.
TV has trained me to mistrust good people, what can I say? And I just …what’s the point of having a character like Will if there’s another character like him? No, I don’t think Emma is on the level, I really don’t. If she’d at least, you know, reacted a bit more strongly to the whole idea of Frankie and Will, then maybe. But just brushing it off as she did?
I’m not ready to call her Lauren Reed 2.0, but I do know how these story-lines go, and if Whiskey Cavalier has done one thing, it’s lean into the stereotypes, hard, and make us care not just about the plot that we can sometimes see coming, but about the people involved in those plots.
I care about Will. And Frankie. Not about Emma. And that says a lot.
THE OTHER ROMANTIC PLOT
I would like to say I enjoyed Edgar’s romantic plot because truthfully, characters like him don’t usually get to have one, and if they do, the plot is basically a) played up for laughs and or b) devoid of actual substance. But the fact is, my second-hand embarrassment was so encompassing that I could barely process what was going on, even if the show seems to be taking great pains to actually develop this story-line.
BUT DEAR GOD, EDGAR. GET IT TOGETHER. BE YOU.
Yeah, I know, that’s basically what Susan said too, but as we’ve said before, Susan is the audience insert, and so she’s mostly right. Also, no, I can’t use a picture/gif of that moment, because it makes me vaguely uncomfortable.
Secondhand embarrassment aside, I appreciate that Edgar is getting a love interest, that Susan is beginning to open up about relationships (and getting close to Frankie), that Jai and Edgar’s friendship is taking center stage, and yes, even that Ray is becoming an actual human person with real feelings. A show can be enjoyable if you only care about one or two characters, yes, but a show is hardly ever must-watch TV if you don’t care about the parts that make up a whole.
I care about all the parts that make a hole, and I even care about the wildcard, Tina. And that makes my viewing experience richer. It also makes me side-eye ABC a little bit, because we’re getting to the OMG is this show I really like going to be renewed part of the year, and I just really, really hope we’re all on the same page about how people watch TV these days.
Aka, not live. Don’t judge this wonderful show by how many people are watching on Wednesday nights, please. Because we deserve more, and so do these characters.
Things I think I think:
- “It’s always nice to have friends around.” It really does feel like these people are a team now.
- Ah, Jai, you’re still handsome, I promise!
- Frankie (to Will): Look at you hating someone, I like it.
- She looks so proud.
- And also, smiley. Frankie turned soft more quickly than I expected, but as we discussed earlier, my expectations were unrealistic, at best.
- I’m loving the time they’re giving Frankie and Susan’s friendship.
- Will: Who apologizes when they don’t mean it? Frankie: Everyone else on Earth.
- Any time the episode feels like it’s going too fast and things are all working out, everything is going to go to hell.
- I’ve read countless trapped in a cabin fics, I know where this ends.
- This show is like a trope filled chocolate.
- Frankie and Will are easy to ship, and it’s not because of the sexual tension, it’s because of the easy camaraderie, and the way they can just laugh, not at each other anymore, but together.
- TRY TO NOT LOOK GUILTY, WILL. YOU TOO FRANKIE.
- Emma is just brushing this off too quickly. That’s, ahem, suspicious, at best.
- Look at Frankie making decisions based on Will’s feelings. MY HEART.
- Will’s face when someone even mentions hurting Frankie, even if he knows it’s not gonna happen. MY HEART.
- Captain America and Hermione Granger would make a terrible couple. All that self-righteousness.
- AND THAT TRAILER.
Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!
Whiskey Cavalier airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.