The Conners season 3, episode 8 recap – “Young Love, Old Lions and Middle-Aged Hyenas”

January 28, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
3

Summary

“Young Love, Old Lions and Middle-Aged Hyenas” gets bogged down with another tedious Harris subplot, but at least it gives Dan and Ben some interesting things to do.

3

Summary

“Young Love, Old Lions and Middle-Aged Hyenas” gets bogged down with another tedious Harris subplot, but at least it gives Dan and Ben some interesting things to do.

This recap of The Conners season 3, episode 8, “Young Love, Old Lions and Middle-Aged Hyenas”, contains spoilers.


The seventh episode of The Conners’ third season wasn’t exactly laugh-a-minute, and the eighth, “Young Love, Old Lions and Middle-Aged Hyenas”, made a crucial mistake in giving us a painfully tedious Harris subplot. But on the plus side, it had some interesting things for Ben and Dan to do, as well as some pearls from Mark, still easily the best character.

But Harris, man. I really don’t see an upside to this character. The angry, rebellious teen is an archetype that has been done to death so many times that even the best versions of it struggle to stand out, and Harris has no real arc or personality beyond being petulant and mean-spirited, to the extent than whenever she either leaves home or is excommunicated she just ends up being in the next episode and nobody says anything about it. The wannabe revolutionary gimmick is topical, at least, and that’s the angle taken here in The Conners season 3, episode 8, primarily using Harris’s new boyfriend Josh as a mouthpiece for misguided liberal angst.

Josh is a good-looking professional protestor and clearly a bit of a ladies’ man that is all about social media exposure and couldn’t care less about being accosted by the police because, all together now, his family is rich. He’s clearly a posing dork, and the two of them together make a frightful pair, lecturing Dan Conner, of all people, about the injustice of wealth inequality – he wouldn’t understand, you see – and camping out on a protest in the hopes of getting tear-gassed (at least they took the almond milk.) I can’t be sure, but it seems to me that Dan’s point of view is supposed to be the audience’s here; we’re supposed to think that they’re both idiots, and we’re supposed to be rooting for Darlene when, after Becky and Jackie do some social sleuthing with the help of Mark, she goes to the protest to let Harris in on what Josh is really like.

Of course, though, Harris doesn’t listen, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise and explains why I was hoping that Darlene would just disown her in the first place and have done with it. But as if Harris wasn’t unlikeable enough, she savagely berates Darlene about how much of a failure she is, and it’s inconceivable that, at 18 years old, she wouldn’t get a smack in the mouth for it. I’m all for a sitcom maintaining its status quo, but that everything so quickly goes back to normal – or is passed off with a gag – is a major issue when it comes to Harris since her sole function in the narrative is to be awful.

At least The Conners season 3, episode 8 has better things for Dan and Ben to do. Ben is woefully underused at the best of times, so it’s nice to see him have a purpose here, especially since it ties into his own arc of burgeoning worthlessness since his magazine went under. He volunteers to help Becky build a closet in the basement, and they both try to keep it from Dan until it’s finished since they know he’ll interfere. Naturally, he catches them red-handed, massively overreacts, and then sets about rebuilding the thing from scratch.

The point of all this is that Dan is getting older and is beginning to feel like he’s surplus to requirements, whereas Ben knows that he is surplus to requirements since he’s deeply dissatisfied with his job doing other peoples’ shopping and Becky keeps giving him a hard time about it. Both men clearly have a middle ground that they need to reach, but their stubborn, macho pride prevents them from doing so. “Young Love, Old Lions and Middle-Aged Hyenas” is much better, it seems, at exploring the anxieties of grown-ups than it is those of children – unless it’s Mark, obviously, but we all know the show would be a lot better with more Mark.

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