Party of Five (“In Loco Parentis”)

Season 1, Episode 17
Date of airing:
 February 1, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.6 million viewers, 7.4/12 in Households

It was a solid episode, but I couldn’t quite connect to it, even though I should have had no problems doing so. Artie’s parents are about to get divorced and I should have been able to tell a story about the divorce of my parents and how I was affected by it, but Artie’s story turned into something of a “Parent Trap”-type premise that was bogged down by the writers trying heavily to make the whole thing about Claudia, which essentially means that Claudia was taking the story away from Artie, when it could have been a great idea to actually focus on Artie and have Claudia live vicariously by him. Meanwhile, Charlie had troubles connecting to his very own blood, though I found myself not able to find something in this story, mostly because I was the youngest kid in the family myself, and, well, because no one from my family was connecting to and with me like Charlie tried to at the end of the episode, although my family situation cannot be compared to the Salingers’. Maybe it’s the fact that PARTY OF FIVE is one of the few shows out there which portrays family in a way I would have loved to live in a family. Every time shows like PARTY OF FIVE or PARENTHOOD or family comedies or sitcoms, I’m always reminiscent about how crappy I felt as a teenager, because I never got love or attention as the youngest kid, and I always wanted to know what it felt like to have a family where your parents or siblings actually care about you. I might not have been able to connect with Charlie’s story, because it was told from his point of view, and it was mostly about being a father figure for his baby brother, but I was connecting to the story on a different level, which was most likely not intended by the writers at all. Or maybe they did, and I just didn’t notice it.

Charlie looks happy in the class of fathers.

The drama surrounding Jill continued and it ended in a very open fashion, while going through some extremely annoying parts as well. I liked the ending of it, and the chance that Jill is out and gone and will never return again, but the way the story was treated midway through was a mistake. Bailey, as worried as he can be as a caring person, comes to Jill’s mother who immediately believes in the lies of her daughter and thinks that Bailey is the bad guy in this situation, and that he needs the attention of some security guys. I could never believe that Jill’s mother wasn’t able to open her eyes or ears to at least listen to Bailey or think about how big the chances are for Jill to be addicted to drugs. I cannot imagine that she did not notice any of her daughter’s problems, especially since she was a nurse (that would suggest Jill and her mother never had a real relationship, which is a whole different issue between the two). What I was also annoyed by was Charlie, who told Bailey to simply walk away from Jill and let it be, showcasing that Charlie does not give a shit about a person with a medical problem or a drug addiction — it’s only one more thing why Charlie is a terrible older brother to his siblings, least alone the worst in being a human. What Charlie was pretty much telling Bailey there was to not care about Jill any longer, turn around and not watch her die, even when Charlie knew Bailey’s nature is the exact opposite and he can’t help himself helping her, or at least trying to. It made the scene in the basement a little bit useless, since Charlie was taking about things Bailey should do, which he was never able to do anyway. When you know a friend is in trouble and uses drugs, you don’t just walk away. You do your best to help that person. But I guess Charlie is not that kind of guy. Never trust Charlie to help you with your problems.

The love story of Julia and Justin gets to another level, and one that was kind of weird in this episode. I can understand that Julia wanted to tell everyone how awesome her boyfriend is, or how awesome it is to actually have a boyfriend, but even I had to roll with my eyes a bit when Julia told Justin’s mother about the poem, and how he kisses and all that stuff. Damn, I would find it weird of my girlfriend’s mother to hear everything about how I am as a lover, and I would definitely have the same problem Justin had with Julia about this violation of privacy. His reaction to Julia’s betrayal, and his ripping apart the poem and throwing it at Julia, was a little over the top though. But the story was still weird at the end, when Justin left to crash in his bedroom and sleep into the night, and left his mother and his girlfriend down to talk to each other, presumably about Justin only. Do mothers really wanna know how good of a kisser their sons are? Do things get even weirder from here on?

The mother and the girlfriend are going to talk about the boyfriend now.

And finally, Claudia, whom I didn’t know she was either annoyed by Artie hanging at her place, or annoyed that he wasn’t that much open about his own situation during the beginning. I loved their mission to get Artie’s parents together though, and I loved that the mission backfired and that nothing has changed. Sometimes it’s not like THE PARENT TRAP at all, and life can be like THE EXORCIST. The little talk Claudia had with Artie near the end was great though. Claudia giving life lessons, because she can, since she has lived a life and can talk about what it means and feels like to lose your parents. And maybe the two became better friends in this episode, considering they kind of share the same fate now. Artie might still have parents at the end of the day (even when they are divorced), but for a split second Artie learns how Claudia really feels. If only scenes like these could be used more greatly in the show, because it seems quite obvious that Artie, only a supporting character in some of Claudia’s stories, won’t remember much about what transpired in this episode.

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