Season 4, Episode 15
Date of airing: March 24, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.302 million viewers, 0.29 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.28 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.64 rating with Females 12-34, 0.27 rating with Adults 25-54
Do you see how things work when you know you get to write a series finale? This was quite a touching episode — albeit with no humorous elements, but it was emotional enough to send off the characters onto their own paths and have them live their own lives. Interestingly, each of them could be served to the LIV AND MADDIE fans with a one-hour episode about what they were doing over the summer. Liv’s Broadway stint could work well in a mockumentary format (I kind of want to see the same with Hamilton, because all the documentaries I saw — well, just one to be honest — are not enough), Maddie’s stint in New Orleans to build Tiny Houses could be a project for a JUDGING AMY-ike show (when it was in its third season) or maybe even a reality-TV type program on HGTV, Joey’s stint as a comedian could serve well as a Comedy Central special, and Parker’s adventures in the biodome could be an entire movie presented by PBS’s NOVA or National Geographic — preferably without Pauly Shore though, because that film is still haunting me. It’s intriguing how the writers said goodbye to their characters by giving them the best option of life they could have ever dreamed of, even if those options couldn’t have been more privileged and white. LIV AND MADDIE ends with the characters taking a step into their futures, which is especially miraculous in Joey’s case, since that kid was a six-year-old crazy boy for three years and suddenly he gets to make a career in stand-up comedy.
Still, I liked the series finale. When everyone said their goodbyes to each other — first individually, and then as a group — it felt like even I was saying goodbye to a family I have been following for four seasons now, and for a moment I was actually sad that the show closed up shop with this episode. While I had a few troubles with LIV AND MADDIE during its infant stages, I came to love the show for its spaced-up comedy, while I continued to hate the show for never doing anything with characters like Parker and Joey, who were always the clowns of the bunch. And while this was a proper series finale, there wasn’t really much story in it. Basically, every character (except the adult ones) got a send-off, because they decided to follow their dreams. There was no conflict to solve, there was no story to finish, and there were no couples to (re)unite. Maddie and Diggie were still a couple, only without a kiss (okay, they kissed once, which adds a third kiss to their series-long count); Joey and Willow were just friends (I was actually expect them to share a kiss or something, but I got disappointed); and Parker and Val were holding hands, which is probably the most sexed-up thing the Disney Channel could allow for a sophomore high school couple.
I did like the notion that the documentary team behind the camera was mentioned and depicted. Yes, LIV AND MADDIE stole from THE OFFICE in this episode, but it was nice to know that the writers also wanted to close out this story and explain why the interview sequences were happening, although it wasn’t an explanation I wasn’t waiting for, let alone was it necessary to explain the talking heads. Dump Truck binge-watching the show and experiencing the Falcon for the first time might have been considered the only story of the episode, but at the end it was a meaningless plot, because even in that minimalist story there was no conflict. Joey was expecting death and torture, but Dump Truck liked Falcon. And there it pretty much ended. I would have at least written in a moment, during which Dump Truck was teaching Joey how to be Dump Truck, instead of being Falcon. It could have been a 15-second scene, and it could have been a hilarious one.
And finally, the closing scene. Of course it needed to be a song, and of course it needed to be an acoustic version of Better in Stereo — which I dug, by the way. Please, release a version of that song, and I will put it onto my playlist. The final revelations of the characters were lame though. I was expecting a couple of secrets that were mentioned throughout the show, but the writers cut that crap down extremely quick. But I also kinda liked that the episode wasn’t drowning in flashback-kinda moments. It was a very present-day episode, without memories and all that stuff, like the third season finale, which had Liv and Maddie reminiscing about three seasons worth of their lives. The fact that it was such a present-day episode needs to be applauded.