This article discusses the ending of the Netflix film The Guide to the Perfect Family, so it will contain major spoilers.
The Guide to the Perfect Family is a great visualization of the struggle of modern-day parenting that glorifies successful life and social media. We have seen the perfect visualization of the modern-day family. But the question is, what is actually the guide to the perfect family?
So, after finding out about Rose’s drug use and cheating, Martin and Caroline decide to take Rose to visit a therapist. The married couple keeps blaming each other for Rose’s behavior. After the therapist tries to explain all of her depression symptoms, Martin constantly shows denial. He argues that Rose is just a 16-year-old. The therapist suggests to gives Rose a break from all of her activities and starts to medicate. He also suggests to start building healthy communication; instead of ordering her, try to be more affirmative, and stop using words that might trigger her pressures.
After the therapy session, Martin tries to amplify all of the suggestions. He also tries to spend quality time by agreeing on Marie’s ideas on playing a board game. But things just get chaotic due to the lack of compromising and communication after Mathis’s constant random outbursts. The next day, Martin tries to enroll Rose to go to Concerta after receiving recommendations from his co-workers, believing that Rose might suffer from ADD, just like Steve Jobs, Mozart, and other famous figures. We can see how Martin is still in the stage of denial. In the meantime, Rose goes on a lunch date with Caroline where she enjoys eating bacon over salad and talks about boys.
The tension keeps on rising after Martin prohibits Rose to go to a friend’s party. At night, Martin is seen to be reading a book about parenting, after that he and Marie attempt an intimate night. Before they even start, Mathis comes into the room and asks to sleep with them, ruining their night. Martin later scrolls his media social and finds Rose’s post about studying for Math. Wanting to encourage her, Martin goes to her room. He finds out that Rose secretly sneaks out of her room. Feeling bewildered, he patiently waits for Rose to come back only to see her drunk and wasted.
After realizing that ordering her won’t keep her on track, Martin invites Rose to spend a day off at Grandpa’s house, without Marie and Mathis. For the first time, we can see how Rose excitedly agrees. The two of them have vibes together… until the phone rings.
Martin receives news indicating his failed promotion at work. He stops paddling their raft and tries to make a call to the company. Rose, who seems annoyed at Martin being distracted over work, flips out in waves of anger. She jumps off into the lake and swims herself while confronting Martin saying how she’s so frustrated by his high standard and expectations of her. This marks the final blow of their exaltation and the end of their luxury time together.
After their arousing confrontation, Rose decides to live with Caroline for a couple of days. Martin feels empty and restless while Rose is having a girl’s day out and quality time with Caroline. But of course, Martin spends time with Marie and Mathis. Rose sees their quality time on Marie’s social media post and feels jealous. Everything seems perfect from the picture, but what actually happens is Martin’s restlessness and egocentric tendency leads him to another conflict. Marie who always seems to have it all under control burst out in vain. Emphasizing how she is always on Martin’s team, yet he is not on her’s. This scene reveals the unseen dysfunctionality of Dubois’s family. The unbalanced gender roles and poor communication. Marie opens up about her struggles with raising Mathis while trying to exceed Martin’s expectations and fear of being a disappointment. After the confrontation, Martin dwells with his inner battles on trying to clear the misunderstanding versus his pride with his family.
The interesting part happens near the end. Rose is taking her final exams. We can see her anxiety rising. She does not secretly take her pills anymore. After the exams, we can see how Caroline and Rose seem to have a good bond between mother and daughter, yet we forget the idea of how Caroline is barely present in Rose’s life. While Caroline is having the time of her life dancing intimately with her friend, Rose feels disconnected. She lets Caroline enjoy the rest of the night. Caroline promise to comes back at noon for brunch, leaving Rose all alone. We get to see the different parenting. Martin is a demanding parent yet homely and present while Caroline is freer in expressing herself but barely present.
The final conflict is when Rose is having a mental breakdown because of her failure on the Math exam. This scene visualizes perfectly the pressure children are facing when their values get measured over numbers. She excessively drinks, secretly takes Caroline’s pills, and overdoses. Caroline rushes her to the hospital and notifies Martin.
Netflix’s The Guide to the Perfect Family – ending explained
After recovering, Rose and Martin share a heartwarming father and daughter moment, both of them apologizing and embracing one another. It is also symbolic of their acceptance of each other. There is no such thing as a perfect child and parent. Martin has also come to his sense about how being average is not a bad thing after almost losing her daughter over expectations and unwillingness to listen and understand each other.
We come back to the first scene with the parents’ evening. After their endless debates, we get to witness Martin sitting in the middle of the parents, and then he walks himself out of the room. It marks his change of mindset and principles in life. In the end, Martin, Rose, and Mathis are having quality time by eating ice cream at the park. Mathis suddenly gives him his ice cream and runs to play with the other kids. He stumbles along the way. Martin’s fatherly instinct awakens, but Rose stops him. “He is alright,” and not long after that, Mathis stands up and runs again.
The final scene is a metaphor that concludes all of the conflicts. In the end, as a parent, we have to let our children explore the world. Along the way, they will stumble and fall. Instead of prohibiting them to be vulnerable and demand perfection, let them face their failure in life. They need it to grow. So the guide to the perfect family? Well, there is none, but a perfect family is the one that is willing to learn, accept, and embrace their imperfections.
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