Friday, September 2, 2016

Everwood "All the Lonely People" Review

“We will get through this,” Harold told Bright during their rare tender father-son moment. Harold’s line could function as the most emblematic of the series—Everwood at its most reflective of life. People endure and overcome hardships. Andy overcame the death of his wife and his fraught relationship with Ephram. Amy overcame Colin’s death. The Abbotts endured and overcame Rose’s cancer. Though people get through tough times multiple times in their lives, it never feels familiar nor is it easier. One acquires wisdom because of the hardship. Ephram compared the experience to breaking a limb at the end of “The Last of Summer” when he wanted to comfort Amy, and he touched on it again in his essay, written for Amy’s Princeton application, about his fatal flaw.

The key part of Harold’s line is “We.’ The line becomes a bearable proposition because of the ‘we’. Bright’s not alone despite how alone he feels. Reid functions as the opposite of Bright. Both made mistakes, but only Bright had other people, his mother and his father, his sister, and his best friend, there for him. Reid had no one. His mother, to overemphasize the contrast between the boys, blamed herself for failing to give her son the support Bright never lacked.

I also see Reid’s suicide attempt as a meta commentary on the challenges of introducing and writing a new character in an established world. Where does a new character fit in any veteran show? He or she usually doesn’t. See Nikki and Paulo. But the millions of readers may challenge that Hannah seamlessly fit into the show last season—only she didn’t. The writers hoped Hannah would challenge the Ephram/Amy relationship, but Sarah Drew and Gregory Smith lacked chemistry. Instead, she fit as Amy’s best friend. Reid acted as a rival to Ephram, but he fit in as Bright’s roommate; however, the writers forgot about Reid for stretches. Ephram told Amy that he was friends with Reid, but the audience saw them have two conversations. So, not really, but Ephram served as an Everyman for their most dramatic story points.

Anyway, Reid’s suicide attempt may reflect the lonely writers trying to inject change and new life into a medium that, largely, rejects change and new life. Audiences want what they always loved. If what they loved permanently changes or dwindles quality-wise, they don’t want it at all. They want that nonsense cancelled.

Of course, Reid’s suicide attempt touches a quiet part of the college experience: loneliness. Stress, too. TV and movies created and maintained the myth of college as the best years of one’s life, full of fun and happiness and people. People don’t start college ever thinking they’ll feel so alone, but they do. The University of Pennsylvania had 10 suicides in three years. Reid had what students called “Penn face.” They appear as if everything is fine when everything is not. The pressure to be perfect overwhelms them. Failing, or struggling through, college represents their first failure in life, especially at an Ivy League school, and they don’t know how to deal nor do they want anyone to think less of them for struggling. Reid wrapped up his college hopes and dreams in his bipolar brother. Failing med school meant he failed him. One of the more poignant lines of the episode belongs to Reid’s mother, who’s mortified and heartbroken to know that not even she knew her boy was lonely.

Ephram serves as the ‘Why didn’t I see this coming?” character, with Bright and Amy unsure how to react. Reid told Ephram that he couldn’t have done anything, because he would’ve never let him know he needed something done. I can’t remember whether TheWB aired a PSA after the episode urging anyone struggling to reach out to hotline or not, but I’m sure they did. Suicide can’t be ignored or hidden like a shameful secret or perceived as a weakness.

Reid’s story is the crux of the episode. Harold’s and Bright’s parallel problems with the women in their lives is a little side story that leads to their moment. Rose helped Hannah deal by introducing her to the pillow method. Also, “All the Lonely People” begins Everwood’s final stretch, so, of course, Nina remembers she loves Andy.

Anna Fricke wrote the episode. Joyce Chopra directed.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.