‘I Feel Bad’ 1×04 Review: I Feel Worse

I am legitimately sorry to say it, but I Feel Bad just got worse.

Any show with the star power and talent of Jane Seymour, Debra Jo Rupp, AND Anna Maria Horsford at their disposal that wastes it on nerd bros does not deserve our respect!

These actors are masters of their craft and it is twisted to see them on I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up,”  for less than ten seconds, and for more than a couple of those seconds to be overshadowed by one nerd bro calling another nerd bro’s mom “hot.”

DR. QUINN MEDICINE WOMAN IS WASTED ON A NERD BRO PLOT! I may never recover.

The storyline of millennial men not moving on from their mommas is tired and shallow. The inclusion of gay moms feels almost offensive as it’s a clear attempt to add diversity only for diversity’s sake. There is nothing organic or meaningful about that representation.

Going For The Worst

I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up.” Source: NBC

Rather than go in a better direction with its fourth episode, I Feel Bad leans into its worst attributes. The nerd bros and the dumb son are given nearly all of the attention, and none of it is funny. I didn’t laugh at all. Not even once.

The A-plot joke of the episode is supposed to be that Louie is being babied and is drastically immature, but also that he is growing up so fast because he likes to use a toddler’s ride to look at lingerie mannequins.

It feels like there was someone in the writers’ room who had a scenario like this come up in real life and so they put it in the show. It has that odd specificity.

But it doesn’t fit this family.

I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up.” Source: NBC

In the pilot episode, in her very first lines, Emet preaches about the need for representation in her male-dominated field. It does not pass the smell test that this type of person would be so blind to her child’s developmental needs, especially in regards to sex education.

It isn’t clear how old Louie is, but he’s not much younger than Lily. My best guess is he’s 11 or 12 years old and in the fifth or sixth grade.

I Feel Bad expects us to be on board for Emet’s sudden realization that her child is getting to the age where he’s having sexual feelings. Really? He is clearly beyond the age where a parent should reasonably expect those things to be happening.

It is frustrating for a show that is trying to be incisive in its social commentary and feminist voice be so far off base with yet another storyline involving something pivotal.

I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up.” Source: NBC

Just like believing in your child’s intelligence and having a growth mindset was blasted by “I Lie to My Kids,” “My Kid Has to Grow Up” makes a bad joke out of talking to your children about body autonomy and consent at an age appropriate time.

Granted, the erection song and the consent song, heck even the chlamydia song, are cute. In fact, the songs are the strongest part of the episode.

But, even the songs aren’t clever or real enough to make a meaningful impact.

Don’t get me started on the failed attempt to parallel the experience of Louie with that of the entire gaggle of nerd bros. Just, no.

 

I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up.” Source: NBC

Lily is a more grounded, interesting and relevant character. It would have been far better if the episode had focused on Lily masturbating in public or in a socially awkward way and Emet floundering with how to deal with that.

Every sitcom ever has dealt with boys’ erections. We get it, boners are hilarious.

I have never seen a girl masturbation storyline featured and given good comedic justice. News flash, girls are every bit as sexual and awkward during puberty as boys are. Lily could have had a really fascinating and fresh storyline. It would have been one that allowed Emet’s mom to enter in and be more consistently portrayed.

Maya’s slut-shaming expressions on the episode are another BAD idea.

I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up.” Source: NBC

It is ageist to assume that because Maya is a grandma that she is going to have regressive views on gender, especially when we have seen her be quirky but progressive. We see her put on the t-shirt and grind at Lily’s dance recital. We see her rock the disco dances with her husband. And we see her loving that hashtag life.

Maya may not be woke, but there is zero reason to believe that she has a strict and anti-empowering view of sexuality. The implication is that just because she is older and South Asian those are her views.

A final weakness of the show is the off-hand and jabs at mental health the episode makes. Once with the nerd bro’s comment on medication and then with Sonny’s traumatic childhood, the show is making people’s mental health struggles the butt of the joke.

I’m not laughing.

I am sad because all the gorgeous glimmers of charm and quality that were in the first two episodes are completely absent from “I Lie to My Kids” and “My Kid Has to Grow Up.”

I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up.” Source: NBC

There are still several episodes left to redirect the narrative emphasis on I Feel Bad. However, given that even those first two episodes weren’t entirely solid in their tone and character, I’m calling I Feel Bad as a long-shot.

I’m a fan of the underdog. And, Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows of all time and its first season was a train wreck. Fingers crossed.

What did you think of I Feel Bad 1×04 “My Kid Has to Grow Up”? Join the conversation in the comments!

I Feel Bad airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.



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