TV Review: F is For Family Season 1

F IS FOR FAIL

When you think of the words “Netflix original series” what usually comes to mind? Daredevil? Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Jessica Jones? Basically, it isn’t far-fetched to say you’d picture a show of high quality, whether it’s from providing plenty of laughs or gut wrenching moments to keep you fixed to the television.With these expectations in mind, it’ll only drive you mad wondering how F is for Family slipped through the cracks and undermined the Netflix “seal of quality.”

From the mind of comedian Bill Burr and executive producer Vince Vaughn, F is for Family follows the dysfunctional, low-income Murphy residence as they try to accept both each other and the changing times of the 1970s. There’s Frank the short-tempered, alcoholic father, Sue the depressed housewife, Kevin the stoner, Maureen the spoiled brat and Bill the wimp. Looking for deeper insight into who these characters really are and what drives their actions? That’s a shame, because that’s really all this show is going to give you, bland individual archetypes. In between that, you may have a few chuckles, but it isn’t even remotely enough to offset the show’s vulgarity, mean-spirited tone and terrible pacing.

Let’s get one thing clear, there’s nothing wrong with a sense of “mean spirit” in television shows, fellow animated programs like South Park and Archer do it very well. However, F is for Family completely ignores the one aspect required to make mean-spirited characters work: relief. You need a reason to get behind these characters, it’s absolutely vital to have a break from the anger and the bitterness to understand them better and show off their aspects we can relate to.  You don’t have to like the character as a person, you just have to “get” them. Take the lovable jerk Bender from Futurama. He’s robbed, murdered and forcefully taken his best friend’s kidney, just to name a few of his misdeeds. He should be considered unlikable to fans, but what prevents that from happening is the relief in between those moments. He’s also stood by the ones he loves in times of need, even sacrificing his life at one point (and reviving later, mind you). What prevents Frank Murphy from ever achieving “lovable prick” and just settling into “prick” territory is how little of a reason you have to get behind him. Rarely does the feeling that Frank cares for his family occur, instead he simply gets drunkenly pissed and apathetic to everyone around him. The only real moment of relief is in the final episode, the lousy Christmas special.  Not only is it so forced that it bleeds into cliché, but it’s so brief and meaningless that it only reminds you of how much this show screwed up its concepts.

F IS FOR FAIL 2

The supporting family is no better either. The wife serves little to no purpose other than to fulfill the “depressed housewife” stereotype and does absolutely nothing new or original with it. The children, apart from a few dramatic moments between themselves, are unmemorable and heartless. Bill Burr’s character Frank is the only one that really stands out, but even that’s mostly for the wrong reasons. Burr’s personality would make for a great “anti-sitcom” father figure, but this show completely squanders it all on the jokes. Not only is it almost entirely unfunny, save a few chuckles, but it’s the worst kind of humor to rely on: crude.  As obsessed F is for Family is with feces, vomit, urine, and testicle jokes, you’d think it was written by a group of 12-year-olds. Lacking is Burr’s mean-spirited comedic act with just the right amount of heart, but replaced with plenty of abusive parenting and drugs to go around.

If you want an educated guess as to how this show came to be, it’d probably be “celebrity endorsement.”  It isn’t hard for a terrible program to be successful as long as there’s a familiar name behind it (just look at Adam Sandler’s track record). After all, even if each television episode or Hollywood film gets worse and worse, as long as there’s money from a celebrity backer to be made, the show will go on. That’s really all this show will become as time moves along, a blemish on the Netflix name, and a second season that few will look forward to. In the end, you’ll be left with nothing more than a sick feeling in your stomach from an overwhelming sense of disappointment. Ultimately, F is for Family wastes the talents of Bill Burr on juvenile humor and unsympathetic characters, creating an outright abysmal experience overall.

Rating: 2/10

​Donald Strohman is a Pennsylvania State University film graduate currently residing in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Before being a part of The Young Folks team, he contributed to GameDeck and the satire website The Black Sheep. He also writes for the game journalism site GameSkinny. When he's not trying to fulfill his life long dream of becoming the "Hash Slinging Slasher", Donald enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and writing; sometimes all at once.
  • You are so off the mark here. This show and Bill Burr is absolutely hilarious. All of the stereo types are so outrageous and unbelievable that it sets this show off perfectly! Thank goodness you are not in charge of shows making it to Netflix or otherwise.

  • Zachary WhoDat Collier

    Terrible review. This show is amazing, and there are definitely heartfelt family moments in the cracks here and there.

    Your 2/10 stacked against its perfect star rating on netflix shows your sense of humor isnt compatible with this type of program

  • Stupid Review

    I did not feel the overwhelming sense of disappointment you described. You are obviously missing the point of the show. Yes it relies on crude humor but is that a bad thing? Between these crude moments are brilliant emotional insights to raising a family and relationships between characters, which obviously did not get through to you. Stop hating things based on appearances and actually try to see what the show is trying to tell you (so called film graduate).

  • Carmine

    Sorry your wrong! I love his show I hope they make many more seasons!! I find it so funny and so refreshing and everybody I know who has watched it think it’s hilarious. And personally the examples you used as good Netflix series are shows I didn’t enjoy watching. I became bored with in 3 episodes. But I can honestly say I was sad when I watch the last show of F is for family. Please Netflix make more !

  • Ron

    Probably one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long time, the humor is amazing, acting (voiceovers) feel so dead on, so accurate of what would happen. Nothing comes to mind that really excites me to watch right now as much as this. I’ve told everyone about it where I work, everyone who’s watched it loved it.

  • Jae

    I do not understand why you are hating on these stereotypes. These stereotypes that you claim serve no purpose are essential to the story. Many shows have stereotypes and in F is for Family, it is done tastefully.

  • Gina

    The fact that you can say that these characters are unrelatable makes me wonder what kind of family you grew up in and the means you had. This is literally the lifestyle of many a lower middle class/middle class level family. Crude, yes. And I’m sure if family guy were on Netflix it would be just as if not worse. Some of the jokes in family guy are COMPLETELY over the line, albeit nuanced extremely well. My guess is this show just isn’t your sense of humor, and unfortunately I think that’s a damn shame… The world needs to laugh at the trials and tribulations of real life. This show can let that happen.

  • Sean

    It was hard to keep reading this review after seeing “mean-spirited” in the review not once, but twice. No wait . . . three times. Donald, stick to video games, bud.

  • danny berwick

    I think your jealous you didn’t think of this show!!

  • I love this show

  • Samuel White

    You should be fired from writing or reviewing cause growing up in the 80’s was almost like this show. ESP in the low to low/middle class.

  • Ryan

    Shame on you, Donald Strohman. Shame.

  • Ann Brown

    I agree with this review. I had to fast forward it to see the funny parts. Unfortunately there weren’t any. I am a big fan of Bill but this show didn’t have any funny for me.

    • Ann Brown

      If you disagree with my comment, tough shit. I do not think this cartoon is funny. His podcast and stand up are not the same as this lame cartoon . . I love his comedy but this cartoon I find unfunny. if that bothers you.. from your comment it does. That is your issue, not mine… now have a nice day and go fuck yourself..as Bill would say!!

  • James

    I think this is a great review. I was very disappointed with this show. I watched a couple of episodes and found myself left with either hate, or apathy for the characters. The hate was directed at Bill Burr’s character, because that seems to be the only emotion he conveys in this show, and the apathy is towards the other incredibly 1 dimensional characters that are so underdeveloped that I can’t really look at them as anything more than ideas. While the father figure is only verbally abusive to his children in broad view, it makes me think of the physically abused children I knew growing up. I’d hear their dad yelling and stomping around while I was at their house playing, but wouldn’t see the bruises and black eyes until the next day. Domestic violence should not be taken nonchalantly, and when the primary joke is an over agitated middle aged man and elusion to abuse, I find it disgusting at best.

  • Phil

    Great show everyone I know who has seen it agree with me looking forward to more seasons

  • TenfLetta (Jay)

    This is #Hilarious love it… Season 2 needs to happen.. “You know what you were getting into, when you let me get into you” lolol great cartoon…