Watching F Is For Family, the new Netflix original series from comedian Bill Burr and longtime Simpsons writer Michael Price, is akin to teleporting back to an age when television wasn’t afraid to revel in the nitty gritty hilarity of working-class life. You could compare it to anything from Roseanne to All In The Family, but what sets it apart is its progressive storytelling. Unlike most sitcoms, both acted and animated, the domestics struggles and pains of everyday life add up. As in reality, everything that happens has a real and lasting impact, which challenges the characters and viewers to think about the world around them, as well as themselves. It’s a thing of beauty, albeit one defiantly made for mature audiences, and the show’s only real flaw is the fact there are currently only six episodes in existence.
Based loosely on the childhood of Burr, F Is For Family is an animated series set in 1973. The show is told from the perspective of Frank Murphy (Burr), an airport baggage handler turned airport baggage manager who leads a life quite different than the one he once imagined for himself – a fact that is made abundantly clear thanks to a gorgeous and opening sequence. His wife, Sue (Laura Dern) is also feeling like a bit of a fish out of water as a suburban housewife, and she can’t help wondering if her life could be any better. There is also the Murphy boys, Kevin (Justin Long) and Bill (Haley Reinhart), as well as daddy’s perfect daughter, the youngest child Maureen (Debi Derryberry).
As the show progresses, viewers follow the members of the Murphy clan as they try to navigate their individual journeys in life, as well as their relationships with one another. Frank has to deal with the fact he only receives his promotion as the result of his boss’ untimely death, but before that can happen he also has to work to prevent a strike that will put his family in a tough financial pinch. The boys have to learn to get along, but also to become men, which include a hilarious first-time visit to stadium bathrooms as seen through the eyes of 11-year old Bill. It’s simple stuff that comes from real places (Price based the stadium story on his own memories as a child), and it’s told through a multi-layered approach to humor that delivers continuously throughout the six-episode series.
The animation on the show is bright and colorful, which adds to the humor when juxtaposed against Frank screaming about the difficulties of his new job or young Bill’s attempts to overcome a bully’s ridicule. The world the Murphy’s inhabit, much like that of those who live in Springfield, is tacky in a well meaning sort of way. It’s not the Murphy family is poor, but they’re also not rich. They’re everyday people, as such they have plenty of quirks on display for the world to see. They also have a rich neighbor (Sam Rockwell), who constantly reminds Frank of the life he could have had.
My binge of F Is For Family began the day it was made available to the press, which just so happen to fall in the wake of Thanksgiving. I did not plan an immediate binge, but I was immediately hooked by the honest and sidesplittingly hilarious look at life the show offered. The lessons told, though set forty years prior, resonate strong with what is happening in homes and around the world right now. Burr’s razor sharp observations of family life and the struggle to get by pairs perfectly with Price’s comedic history with The Simpsons. Where Burr often tackles topics in a very direct manner, Price’s humor fills every scene and moment with jokes big and small that may take some viewers multiple viewings to catch in full.
At this point it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that Netflix has delivered another great show, but Bill Burr and Michael Price have created something wholly unique that deserves far more episodes than it has been given so far. The truth in every story told makes every joke a bit funnier and every hardship a bit tougher to bare. F Is For Family is about as good as comedy gets, and you would be a fool to skip it.