As you might have guessed, I’m not fond of the arc in which Phil casually reveals that not only are he and Georgia planning to move in together, Jim and Marian have no real problem with the arrangement. It’s not just because of the old double standard or how the disapproval of living together without benefit of clergy was used to make Evil Domineering Mira even more evil and domineering than she previously was. It’s that it’s a smokescreen for what the real message of the arc is. Let’s examine what the underlying premises and their results are on a case by case basis.
First off, we have a reminder that owing to a need to make a proper little girl of Elly, Jim and Marian were stricter with her than they were with Phil. She got a bike later in life despite being two years older, she had an earlier curfew and was generally allowed less latitude to make an ass of herself than Phil was. Also, there is the very real chance that Jim and Marian would do much the same to her that Mira threatened to do to Deanna and treat Elly like a non-person for ‘disgracing’ the family by ‘living in sin’ while at the same time shrugging off Phil doing so because boys will be boys. Result: Elly loses. WAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Second, Phil goes out of his way to not see that he lived a better life because of his gender. Like a lot of people who’ve been granted a free ride, he has a hard time admitting that fact. What he does do is somehow turn a legitimate grievance into a problem by making it sound as if Elly is arguing for the sake of arguing. Since he won’t give Elly the answers she wants to her, she loses and we’re expected to clutch her to our collective bosom and weep bitter, angry tears because Phil won’t admit that he’s wrong to not apologize for his life of relative ease and wants to make it look like his big sister is being crazy.
Thirdly, we never really get any sort of admission from the parental units that most of why Elly and Phil never got along was that simplistic thinker Elly was outraged that she and Phil were never treated one hundred percent equally and that they were wrong to do so. Result: Elly loses again. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Finally, John’s reaction to the whole thing is to make an asinine and mean-spirited comment about the only unfairness involved was that he was denied a chance to pull out of the relationship. Since Elly’s feelings were regarded as an irrelevance at best and a joke at worst, the result is that we are once again invited to mewl “Poor Elly!! No one wants her to enjoy life and no one listens!!”
To sum up, we get the same underlying moral here that we get when Farley pretends that he doesn’t understand English or when her evil children spread CHAOS because they hate to see her happy: “Elly is so unhappy because everyone hates the idea of her getting anywhere in life; all they want her to do is smile mindlessly as she picks up socks and bakes cookies and that’s awful because she could be so much more.”