Both the DiMeo parents and the DiMeo kids had a fun night in this episode.
The A story revolves around JJ and Ray’s school prom, with Dylan also attending as the “bartender”. While usually JJ is the centre of attention, story wise, this episode Ray was front and centre, which was refreshing. Uniquely this episode peeled back another layer of the metaphorical onion, however this time it was a layer that didn’t directly affect JJ. Instead this layer focused on how a family member would deal with people’s ignorant perceptions of disability, which could possibly affect JJ at one time or another.
I personally enjoyed seeing Ray having to face a moral dilemma of this kind, especially as he is usually lecturing others on how to behave morally. It also shows that despite his intelligence that is usually beyond his years, at the end of the day, he is still a young and hormonal boy. The outcome of his situation with Riley was always obvious, his morality was always going to win over his desires, even if JJ gave his approval.
Meanwhile, JJ as usual is the unintentional centre of attention at his prom due to his disability, however I enjoyed how he managed to flip this on its head by having a fun, albeit brief non-prom with three miscasts. I stated brief as unfortunately the non-prom didn’t last long. I enjoyed the scenes between the four of them, especially due to the fact that they’re from different cliques and I would have liked to have seen more of them. I found that JJ ultimately going full circle, embracing the prom and drawing attention to himself, to relieve Caroline of her own self-consciousness, was true to his character and the right outcome.
Maya and Jimmy’s subplot of spending their night away from their kids as an opportunity to work on their marriage and air out old arguments, was hilarious. What made it even better was Kenneth acting as the judge/mediator on all of these arguments, eventually leading to him questioning how he fits into the family. I found Jimmy and Maya’s proposal to include Kenneth as part of the family slightly corny but also true to their character as their seemingly affectionate proposal, was really an excuse to get rid of some of their old stuff.
The writing was superb, especially in the cold open with Kenneth giving a “DiMeo sensitivity speech” to diners in a restaurant, which was a nice full circle moment in his relationship with them and a nice boomerang to how they met. The outcome of this moment was predictable but perfectly executed. I also found that the cold open was perfect foreshadowing of the A plot involving Ray and Riley.
On smaller notes I enjoyed Jimmy’s “party mode” on JJ’s wheelchair again displaying his talents for wheelchair costuming, and Dylan perfectly pulling off being a bartender, even going as far as studying “Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail'”.
Overall this was a fun episode, focusing more on humour than drama, and with Maya, Jimmy and Kenneth, and the kids having their own plots, rather than mixing them up in pairs, which was a refreshing change.