This episode was a definite improvement to last week.
I believe this episode had the most character development in the series to date. The A story focused on Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic, and Jack and Mariam’s friendship. With the B story the focus is on Layla’s campaign for school captain, and the unlikely and until now unexplored dynamic between her and Olivia.
I stated in a previous review that I hoped to see “Middle East Side Story” in a further episode and thankfully it was. What I enjoyed the most was that the musical was the foundation for exploring Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic, as well as Jack and Mariam’s friendship, as these dynamics have never fully been explored before.
I enjoyed the exploration of Mariam and Fou Fou’s marital dynamic as they are usually in the background of the series, with the kids’ antics being front and centre. Many of the show’s married viewers, especially women, would have related to Mariam’s frustration at no-one helping out with the housework while she was doing something for herself. I appreciated that Mariam called Fou Fou out on his behaviour and in turn, Fou Fou trying to change his way of thinking, not because I’m a woman but because it shows a marriage between equals. Usually in sitcoms the husbands are portrayed as idiotic and the wives in charge and constantly annoyed by them. While there is nothing wrong with this on its own I feel it’s been overdone, so it’s nice to see that it’s not the case here.
Meanwhile Jack and Mariam’s friendship was briefly explored last season with the invention of the Anzaclava, so it was nice to see both their friendship and the Anzaclava make a reappearance in the same episode. I appreciated that the kiss on stage between them was awkward to prove that there was no sexual tension between them, which again is something that is overdone in other shows, and it lead to my favourite moment of the episode. I found Fou Fou and Olivia’s kiss hilarious, especially Fou Fou declaring that he “too can play that game” and just going for it.
I found that the B story was solid, especially as Layla is another character that hasn’t been fully explored. I appreciate that the school scenes provides another location for the series to explore, especially since the series’ focus has generally been on the “war” between Olivia and Fou Fou at their homes. While Layla is clearly a strong woman, it’s nice to see another side to her, especially a vulnerable one. While she’s popular it’s obvious that she feels she doesn’t fit in, and I loved how she spoke up and did something about it. Layla’s plausible solution to her problem by running for school captain is refreshingly realistic and a great contrast to Toufic’s over-the-top business ideas.
Layla’s campaign strategies and promises were typical of her character and while I don’t condone Olivia’s behaviour, it was nice to see her go after someone else for a change. How Olivia is still President of the P&C when Madison is no longer at school is beyond me, but considering the pay off, I’ll give it a pass. I found the reveal of Olivia sabotaging Layla by hiding the ballot box in her car to be predictable, but I hope that the writers show Layla in action as school captain in later episodes.
Toufic, Jahesh, Elias and Madison were in the background in this episode, which I personally didn’t mind as they are usually front and centre. I also found it a little ironic that Toufic’s latest business venture wasn’t front and centre, as it was his most successful one to date. I found that the requests that Wogalong were receiving added subtle but necessary humorous moments throughout the episode, and the pay off with the forbidden speaker sales and the Anzaclavas being sold was well done.
- Toufic’s invention for this episode–The Wogalong business.
- Best one liners–“Lebanese Meryl Streep!” (Fou Fou) and “Beirut Barbie” (Olivia).
- Apparently Layla constantly refers to her classmates as posh zombies.
- Typical Jack overdoing the stage make-up.