Saturday, May 8, 2021

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 1, Episode 6 “Fundraiser/Baspana Towlawal” (B+)

I found this episode to be a rather strong instance of this show tackling dramatic material and handling it well, while still sprinkling in just the right amount of comedy to keep the mood light and enjoyable overall. Opening with Hazel outperforming Al in burpees and being rewarded with ice cream for breakfast was hardly a serious start, but once Art expressed interest in doing something, it was clear that he would be set on it even if Riley wasn’t nearly as enthused. He didn’t even pretend that he wanted to be involved, and he managed to sour the mood anytime someone asked him about it during the event itself while Al was the charming life of the party. It was nice to see that no one tried to convince him to come back and make the big speech after he left, and that it was Vanessa who showed up to provide nothing but comfort in the form of no judgment, liquids, aspirin, and a very unappealing-sounding bacon cheeseburger. Al also surprised by starting off with a joke but then venturing into much more heartfelt territory, talking about interpreters being targeted and how much Riley did for him. Ending with the performance of a song lessened the impact, but that’s where this show being a sitcom comes back into play. I’d like to see more of a focus on Lizzie and her art that Art reduced to smashing beer bottles with a hammer, something that he didn’t mind doing at all when she let him take a swing at it.

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