“The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. Device” sets its sights on gender issues to hilarious and typically chaotic results.
This recap of Solar Opposites season 1, episode 6, “The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. Device”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
When compared to its usual standards, Solar Opposites Episode 6 feels like a risky proposition. Earlier outings had their share of edgy jokes and whatnot, but “The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. Device” is explicitly about gender issues, which in this climate is asking for trouble. Giving that already provocative subject matter a silly sci-fi makeover is ballsy. And somewhat predictably at this point, it makes for a good episode.
The titular P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. device is a composite of various sitcom moms that Terry and Korvo knock together in the form of a robot, but as usual with this show, it’s mostly an excuse for jokes rather than any meaningful insight and the characters learn little from it. This is a neat trick that Solar Opposites consistently pulls; each episode has a “message” insofar as it has a broad underlying subject, but the subject always leads to rapidly escalating chaos, and the message is very often lost in that chaos – which is intentional, obviously. It means what is otherwise an anarchic animated sitcom doesn’t have to properly grapple with weighty topics that might bog it down or give it an off-putting political perspective. It works much better in a kind of apolitical middle ground where it takes aim at as many targets as it can just for kicks, and a lot of the jokes in this episode work in that way.
Jesse’s subplot in Solar Opposites Episode 6 is similarly themed: she’s given an assignment by a feminist teacher to tear down the patriarchy, but every time she attempts to join sports teams and such she quickly discovers that she’s perfectly welcome. This seems like a one-off gag but it’s repeated constantly and works every time, I suppose because the caustic mom-bot works as a nice single-minded counter to the woke crowd.
Yumyulack is barely in “The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. Device” since he thinks the subject is too risky and ends up getting into Australian culture instead. This is Solar Opposites Episode 6 at its most relaxed, including material just because, but it somehow manages to tie together in a way that’s more cohesive than you’d think. I’ve said this about almost every episode of the show thus far, but for all its manic excess, Solar Opposites is always very cleverly structured – if it reminds me of anything it’s probably Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has an improvisational feel but is always building to a climax that somehow includes all the elements you thought were arbitrary.
Solar Opposites Season 1, Episode 6 might not make much headway in the subject of systemic sexism, but at least it has the decency to treat the matter with the same kind of disinterested snark as it treats everything else.
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