Searching For Fuchal: Child Abuse and Authoritarianism (Better Than Life)

(1 comment)

I guess it's time to fess up: I've been a bit remiss in posting content for the last few weeks. Life is hectic, work is stressful, and producing podcast content (let alone essays) is possibly a bit more time-consuming than it seems. 

That said, I'm trying to catch up this weekend, and if you're a fan of fairly dark discussions of the realities of authoritarian, abusive parenting told through a comedic lens then you're in luck, as Shana and I discuss Red Dwarf: Better Than Life on this week's Searching for Fuchal. It's a bit of a mess of an episode structurally, but gives us the best look to date at Rimmer's psychology, the way we as people process grief, and the sins of the fathers being visited upon the sons. Also: the way Yvonne McGruder plays into Rimmer's relationship patterns, some silliness involving the way the Cat uses utensils, and a non-ironic use of industrial alternative rock for the final song. (Sorry about that.) Obviously, this one has quite a bit of chat that may be disturbing for some listeners (including a reference to Fred Phelps' abuse of his nine children), so I completely understand those who need to skip it. 

Tomorrow I hope to give you guys a podcast episode I'm not on, as Big Damn Shiny Heroes reboots and everyone gets the Firefly coverage they deserve, rather than that I'd like to provide. 

Comments

The Flan in the High Castle 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I actually really like the weird "they're still in the game" conclusion of this one. The writing maxim that "stories should never end with a character waking up" has become almost as much of a cliché as the convention it criticises, so it's kinda fun to see something that swings the other way.

This sort of ties into the whole canon debate for me – in the same way that it's silly to argue about which works of fiction "count", it's also silly to privilege stories that present themselves as part of a "real" world over those that take place within dreams or virtual realities (eg, like 90% of Philip K Dick books). And I just love the trollish implication that maybe the crew never escaped – that every subsequent episode is actually just part of this virtual reality game. In this respect it's very like the unsettling non-conclusion of The Mind Robber.

Grant and Naylor do have a tendency to just throw up their hands and end an episode any old way when they've got too many pieces on the board to resolve properly, but I think it fits the show's chaotic tone quite well – Stasis Leak is another fun one. Looking back, I actually think these endings have a similar quality to the abrupt conclusions of many Adventure Time episodes (though those are more like little non-sequiturs tacked on for a laugh, whereas these are visibly the narrative itself coming apart at the seams).

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