Dropping a look at a foolhardy eleven year old boy and the hatefully judgmental people that surround him and a dom-com about insane suburbanites who no-one likes can be considered an exercise in the elimination of redundancy. After all, I already watch Foob so I don’t need to follow Curtis when I want to see prickly, humourless people jump down a child’s throat for irrational reasons that have more to do with their own repellent vanity and abysmal ignorance than any sort of right and wrong and I don’t need to follow Sally Forth if I want to look at a horribly damaged human being driving herself and her family insane trying to do what she thinks is right. There are plenty of strips out there that have horrible people who fear and hate a generation that won’t live their lives exactly as they do and plenty of strips stocked with know-nothing know-it-alls nailing themselves to crosses to please people who should be spurned like rabid dogs. The reason I’m glad to no longer follow anything by Tom Batiuk is slightly different than the other two. Marciuliano and Billingsley may be a lot of things but to my knowledge, they’ve never lied to me. Batiuk, on the other hand, has.
That’s because back when he did that ridiculous “time frog” trick roughly four years ago so that he wouldn’t have to depict Les slowly putting his life back together after the traumatic (and, to my mind, pointless) death of his beloved wife Dead Lisa, he’d promised us that the third phase would be dedicated to the second generation of characters. Events, sadly, have proven otherwise. We started things off watching materialistic dumbass Funky run a promising franchise into the ground because he was too busy trying to give a middle finger to his successful ex-wife to notice that his business model was dependent on junk bonds and wishful thinking. Then again, given his failure to realize that her good fortune is owed mainly to no longer having to stoke the ego of a corpulent, materialistic and arrogantly misogynistic blowhard with a moronic name, we can’t expect clear thinking from him. His stepson seems to exist only to cause him anxiety but is otherwise a scowling non-factor. Most of the energy not devoted to keeping his business above water is directed to ignoring his nephew’s PTSD and his second wife’s untreated case of clinical depression.
We continue on with the theme of ‘our children are here to drive us crazy’ as we look at how Bull finds it nearly impossible to relate to Jinx’s path in life. Good thing for her and bad thing for us that most of what Bull is up to is letting Anne Fairgood coach the Lady Scapegoats so that they finally put a trophy in Cancerview High’s empty, empty trophy case.
Next, we have to contend with Crazy Harry’s daughter Maddy; what she seems to be is a bizarre genetic experiment in which we combine her mother’s looks with her father’s bizarre personality and tendency to making weird asides.
Finally, we come to the closest Batiuk comes to fulfilling his promise: Summer. Most of what she is is someone Les can worry about because of his need to fulfill a promise to his dead wife. Her having actual athletic and social skills perplexes and depresses the awkward, awkward main character. Other than that, though, she might as well be ‘Generic Teenager #7’.
What really hammered home the fact that the kids exist as cheerleaders to the established characters was his stumbling, bumbling attempt at having two gay kids come out at the prom. We never met the two before and will never see them again but that’s not important. What is important is that Nate Green stood up to Becky’s mother; this led to the supposed inheritors doing their real job: congratulating a real main character on beating a secondary one.