F is for Family effs off one last time

You can say a number of things about Bill Burr’s animated series, F is for Family. You can say it’s crass, you can say it’s obscene, and you can say that it wallows in an era that is best left as an example of what not to do as a society, but one thing you cannot say about it is that it doesn’t speak truth even if we don’t want to admit it. For the last five seasons, this series has take this dysfunctional nuclear family of the 1970’s, warts and all, and put them on a journey exploring themes of self-worth, loyalty, love, and the cycle of trauma. The Murphys aren’t a perfect family, but who is? The 70’s weren’t a perfect time, but when is?

The series could have been set at any point in recent history, but the 70’s seem best suited. It’s a time of transition both as a society and with technology… a time when the old makes way for the new. I suppose, that is the theme of this final season of the show. The old ways falling to the wayside, while a new and brighter future shines through the clouds. Things don’t end perfectly, but you have a feeling that there is at least a glimmer of hope that they will at least get better.

When we last left the Murphy’s, they welcomed a new baby girl into their family just when Frank’s contentious and abusive father died of a heart attack. While last season dealt with Frank confronting the specter of his father’s abuse, this season see’s Frank dealing with the realization that those issues will go unresolved forever. Big Bill was never portrayed as a monster, but he did damage nonetheless even if he never realized it and, unfortunately, the worst damage he could do to Frank was to die.

Bill Burr’s vocal talents have always been a high point of this series, but this year there was an extra oomph to his performances. I’m unfamiliar with Burr’s personal life, but I got the feeling that he was playing this season very close to the chest and the subject matter really meant something to him. Perhaps he had a Big Bill of his own or, perhaps, he was just really invested this season. Comedians always seem to have great, hidden dramatic chops when they are called upon. Whatever the case, Burr’s vocal performances were incredible in the instances where Frank both broke and had breakthroughs.

Indeed, the entire family had some wonderful and logical character growth this season. Kevin, the loser son who lives in the basement, finds love and, as a result, actually becomes a better and more empathetic person. He and Frank have a very frank discussion in a bowling alley and, honestly, just seeing the two of them have a talk without fighting… seeing that relationship between the two that had been so troubled over the last 5 seasons, was actually… understatedly beautiful.

Things aren’t great, but they might get better.

Bill has this wonderful arch where, after he misinterprets the points of Last Rites (I’m assuming, I’m not Catholic), decides that being good is a waste of time if you can just be forgiven at the last minute and goes on a mission to be as bad as possible eventually leading to him, Phillip, and Jimmy Fitzsimmons becoming junior police officers. As one can probably tell from the symbolism of Bill and his bully, Jimmy, becoming police officers together, the entire arch seems to be a story of power corrupting and it is resolved in such a powerful way that not a word has to be said. A good person basically decides that power isn’t worth it.

Things aren’t great, but they might get better.

If there’s a character in this series that could carry his own spinoff, it would be Rosie. I’ve enjoyed his arch over the last couple of years, going from a background character to an inspiring leader fighting a corrupt city leadership. This season finds Rosie more or less victorious and I would love to see his story continue in some form.

Again, things end. They aren’t that great, but they might get better.

And, honestly, that’s how the show ends. Problems aren’t solved, but people grow. Hardships continue, but the people endure. Some schemes end in disaster, but life goes on. Things aren’t great, but they might get better and it is on that note of hope that we leave the Murphy family to the mists of fond memory.

I have a feeling that they’re all going to be all right. Maybe not great, but all right.

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