Season 4, Episode 8
Date of airing: January 13, 2017 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.046 million viewers, 0.19 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.16 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.56 rating with Females 12-34, 0.19 rating with Adults 25-54
It was a pretty good episode, but I was wondering for a second if the inclusion of anti-stereotype storylines were a sign of not being highly interested in serialized storytelling and instead turning the final season of the show into a “morale of the story” series, in which the morale is intended to break stereotypical barriers only. It’s especially noteworthy right now, because the writers pretty much stopped whatever serialized elements (mostly the romantic relationships) they’ve had during the first three seasons. But I don’t really care about the answer, because LIV AND MADDIE successfully continued its mission to be more inclusive with females, and this time around in two storylines, not just in Liv’s storyline because she happened to feel the need to fight the stereotypes due to her Hollywood stardom persona and her role model status with fictional young girls and potentially real-life young girls (although I have no idea how much of an actual role model Dove Cameron has been ever since she starred in LIV AND MADDIE).
I especially liked in Liv’s story that even Zack realized at one point that it was a good idea to have females included in things that might be of interest to boys only. The moment when a door opened in his mind, and all of a sudden he was overcome by all these new ideas for stories, after he realized that girls can be into cars as well was great, and it’s a moment I would love to see in more TV shows than just the ones who happen to focus on women due to their premise. The car construction premise of Liv’s story was also great, because for once one of the main characters was affected by their friendship with another character, even if it was just a helpful back story to a plot device in an episode. I didn’t get the feeling it had been the case before, but now it looks like Andie has made quite an impression with Liv, though I also believe the writers just took that little tidbit and made it part of Liv’s character, because it was needed for the progressive storyline here. What the story could have done better though was the way the race was depicted. It seemed like it was a scene for the ages, though it should have taken three seconds only — also, halfway down the wooden track, both cars were pretty much nose to nose, but when the finish line was shown, the girls’ cars seemed to have had an advantage of a mile. Also, because of the show’s repeated breaking of stereotypical barriers, it was quite predictable that the girls would win the race, so no surprises here. During the Sing It Louder!! scene though, all I could think of was that Liv’s character walked away with the cake and left the two girls by themselves.
Meanwhile, Maddie and Willow’s story was good enough, though the ending of it was predictable as well. There were about fifty sombrero hat names on the wall, and I was expecting for one of the girls to realize that one of the stereotypical male names were also female names, or for both girls to have missed that one of the sombrero hats on the wall actually belonged to a girl. It was Maddie who noticed that there were no female names on the wall, and I couldn’t imagine her being that blind during that scene. But whatever, it led to a hilarious story, when she and Willow were facing the five most dangerous peppers, almost dying in the process of eating them while also both competing against each other and at the same time trying to win this for all of the women of the world. I would have loved to see them act out eating all five peppers, since there definitely was some physical comedy hidden in that plot, yet the two actors (or the writers) didn’t make use of it. Someone like Melissa McCarthy would have used that opportunity to go nuts with the story.
And finally, there was the pelican storyline. The image of a pelican standing on Joey was amusing to me, but the rest was super boring. There was no moment of pelicans taking a dump on Joey (it was such an obvious scene and a definite laugh, but nothing happened), there was no moment of the pelican kinda trying to destroy the house, because … Well, it’s a huge bird, it could have at least smacked over a lamp or something. The story felt very cautious about having a live bird on set, which is probably why the producers didn’t do anything meaningful with it. It almost looked like having Joey Bragg be under the pelican was the most dangerous stunt of the episode already, so they cut short the rest of the potentially great comedic storyline.