Sullivan & Son can showcase enjoyable and respectable humor, but it is inconsistent. It can be high quality television one week and a disappointment the week after. Thursday’s episode was a disappointment. The episode attempted to make light out of a depressing situation. It is a common approach for the show, but it just didn’t work this time. Like most episodes, the story moved very slowly, which was especially noticeable in an episode devoid of humor.
The show opened with Steve’s Aunt Jo showing up at the bar after not having seen the family for a long time. From the beginning, Jack makes it clear that he does not trust her. Jo has had a tendency to scam the family due to a gambling addiction. Being his usual idealistic self, Steve wants to give her a chance to rejoin the family to see if she has turned her life around. Of course, Steve’s family warns him not to accept her.
While Sullivan & Son is at times slow-moving and may not hold viewers’ interests, Thursday’s episode certainly did not have that problem. There were some parts of the episode that were not overly relevant, but the rest of the show made up for it in a big way.
The opening minutes detailed Steve helping Hank organize his will. It wasn’t necessarily boring or horrible to watch, but it was the least funny story line of the episode. A running joke throughout the episode had Hank continue to tell Steve to take his daughter out of the will, only to ask him to put her back in after he did some rethinking. Hank had little else to offer for the rest of the episode. The real action began when Owen’s mom, Carol walked into the bar and said she was feeling hot. The other patrons assure her it is freezing. Mel then suggests Carole probably had a hot flash and that it could be the beginning of menopause. Carol tries to dismiss this and say that menopause is for old people. It is a very awkward moment for her when she realizes that she might be considered old.
Sullivan & Son has been guilty of cringe comedy and an inability to move the story forward. Jokes that make the audience cringe aren’t always funny as much as they are offensive. Cringe comedy is very hard to execute, which it has for Sullivan & Son. Viewers may be too distracted by the subject matter to laugh. With a lack of movement or action in most of the episodes of Sullivan & Son, there is very little room for distraction. Luckily, on Thursday’s episode, the subject manner and themes were rather pleasant and still funny. The story is still slow, but that is the nature of the show, but yesterday’s episode seemed to take advantage of its limited setting.
The episode opened with Steve’s mother, Ok Cha showing Steve a picture of a Korean woman named Grace Kim online. She then says that she set up an online dating profile for Steve and that the woman wants to meet him. Of course, Steve is upset that his mom took control of his personal life. The dynamic between Steve and his mother can get a little old. Ok Cha likes to think Steve can’t take control of his life when he clearly can. That being said, the measures that Ok Cha took could be construed as so annoying that they are funny. She asserts that she didn’t pretend to be Steve, but she pretended to better than Steve. Steve protests that he does not want to meet Grace, but Grace was coming to the bar anyway.
Thursday’s episode of Sullivan & Son was enjoyable at times, but very little actually happened. Since the bar seems to be the only major setting, there is hardly any action. Instead, the characters are free to have very stressful conversations. While this leaves possibilities for the characters to have revelations, there is very little effort to move the story forward. Episodes that are full of dialogue can be funny at times, but they can also get boring. Despite the potential for Sullivan & Son to be humorous as well as deeply thematic, exclusively relying on slow moving episodes that are full of stress can be a bad idea.
It is the 50th anniversary of Sullivan & Son and things are getting complicated for Steve and his childhood friend Melanie, known as Mel. It is revealed that Mel’s grandfather originally owned the bar and lost it in a poker game against Steve’s grandfather, Jack. Despite this having nothing to do with Steve, Mel holds a grudge for some reason. Of course this is illogical and Steve had nothing to do with the loss of the bar. Mel acknowledges this and is still mad at Steve. Mel’s acknowledgement of her own hypocrisy is supposed to be funny but it is actually very annoying, There is absolutely no reason for this to be a story. In fact, neither of them were aware of it until Jack brought it to their attention. The fact that it was a plot line shows the drawbacks of relying on one location for an entire episode.