If you’re a fan of The Bear (its one of the few shows I”ll binge for) then there is little doubt that you have either watched or heard about “Fishes” by now. I’m talking about star filled Christmas episode that that doesn’t use family dysfunction as a joke like other holiday offerings, but instead attacks us with it like a fork thrown across the dinner table.
A lot of us watching this show will see something in our own families from “Fishes”. There are both very severe issues and smaller family problems to be found in the raucous and non stop dialog driven sprint.
Let’s get the flowers given out first.
Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis
Sarah Paulson (an FTR favorite)
John Mulaney (another FTR favorite)
and of course Jon Bernthal
All of these stars are thrown at us with zero notice. They all give us their best and they each give us a different puzzle piece to this tragedy.
There are all kinds of levels of challenges stemming from mental health and alcoholism to simply being a rotten person.
Let’s go from the least troubling to the most tragic notable characters.
Carmy actually seems to be stronger in this prequel. The tragedies to come haven’t hit him yet but he doesn’t want to be home and can’t find a role there. If this were a different universe, he’d be a Hallmark character.
Cousin Michelle (Paulson) is the meddling cousin who talks rubbish about everyone. You’ve got a few of these in your family.
Stevie (Mulaney, who recently went to rehab in real life) is working through some things but still delivers a kind speech/prayer at the table.
Lee (Odenkirk) is just a plain jerk. You might have a few of these too.
Richie and Tiffany (Jacobs) are expecting but have serious worries about the future and aren’t always honest.
Donna (Curtis) is self medicating alcoholic mother, who while making this dinner while threatens suicide, before driving a car through the house.
Michael (Bernthal) is the most tragic and is terribly unwell when the credits pop. And of course, we know what happens to him.
Are there funny parts in the show? Some. Pete bringing the eighth fish, and the antics among the characters before the dinner give us some levity.
But when Fishes is all over, and you look at each of these scenes, you’ll see some things you recognize in your own families.
We’ll celebrate this episode because this cast completely crushed it. But if there is some discomfort over what you watched, you’re definitely not alone because while its just storytelling on TV, there is realism in what we’re being shown that won’t easily be forgotten.
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