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Here Come the Habibs–Season 2 Finale (Leb Wedding)

The job of a season finale is to tie up the season’s loose ends and set up story arcs for the next season, if there is one. I felt that this finale really only tied up the loose ends and set up one story arc for another season.

You could argue that this season finale managed to pull off a season and a series finale simultaneously–on one hand you can say that all of the loose ends are tied up, and that Elias and Madison finally declaring their love for each other and getting engaged, is a great ending for the show. Whereas on the other hand you can say that while one potential story arc isn’t enough, the fact that the arc would be Elias and Madison’s engagement is big enough in itself to carry a season, and that the tying up of this season’s loose ends provides season three with the opportunity to start fresh.

While I loved the double wedding, especially Fou Fou and Olivia constantly trying to out-do each other with their respective weddings, as well as the drunk shenanigans at both the hens and bucks parties (more so the latter), there were too many cliches being thrown at the viewer. From Elias and Madison being stuck together for a few hours, to Layla recording proof of Yasmine’s con only for her phone to be destroyed, to Yasmine asking Elias to have nothing to do with Madison, to Layla being locked in a room to prevent her from revealing the truth. However I’ll give them a small pass as they helped move the episode forward.

Despite the excessive cliches, there was some solid character development, especially in regards to Jack. In Season 1’s finale, Jack finally stood up to Olivia which shocked her, this time he comforts Madison when she’s having doubts and reveals his own doubts about his marriage in the process. I enjoyed these moments as it shows Jack as a deep character and a loving father, a great contrast to the over-the-top, awkward, doormat Jack the viewers usually see. I also enjoyed the reveal that despite their conservative nature, Jack and Olivia had to marry due to Olivia’s pregnancy.

Overall this season finale was solid, in regards to season two as a whole I felt it was a huge improvement from the first. The first season of any show is all about establishing its characters, premise and finding itself, from the second season onward, a show should know its identify and grow accordingly. I felt that season two managed to do this successfully with improved writing, easing off the stereotypes (a little), and solid character development.

I hope there’s another season for me to review next year.

 

 

Stray Observations:

-Toufic’s invention for the episode–The Bride Glide.

-Apparently Jack and Olivia have Malcolm & Lucy Turnbull on their rolodex.

-Layla’s perception was on point in regards to Madison and Kanye’s relationship.

-Best one liners:

  • “You’re the nicest casual racist father-in-law a guy could ask for!” (Kanye to Jack)
  • “Yas I am” (Layla)
  • “Oh no all naughty!” (Anthea)

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 7 (The Girl from Lebanon)

This episode comprised of two great mysteries, which made it a solid penultimate episode and a great springboard for next week’s season finale.

The two mysteries were obvious–What was Olivia’s downfall going to be in her attempt to run in the by-election, and what was Yasmine up to?

The A story of Olivia’s attempt to run in the by-election was like a wildfire. It got off to a great start by her and Fou Fou disputing over their imposed community service, which lead to Fou Fou throwing Olivia out of his car, which lead to her taking the bus, which lead to her inadvertently becoming an anti-racism hero. I liked the writers’ choice to have Olivia’s hatred of germs be misunderstood for taking a stand against racism and how quickly it escalated. Considering that Fou Fou couldn’t take Olivia down in public, taking her down in a private bathroom when her mic happens to be on was the only way it was going to happen. While the ‘mic being on’ element was cliche, considering how everything was going Olivia’s way, this was the only plausible outcome.

While the A story started and ended relatively quickly, the B story involving Yasmine (Danielle Horvat) was more of a slow burn. While it’s obvious that Yasmine is a con artist, the slow build up of her gaining the family’s trust, trying to win over Toufic and later Elias, and later calling an unknown person to confirm that “she’s in” was well paced and pulled off beautifully. The highlight of this plot for me was Layla quickly catching on to her and constantly following her around, especially as we only saw her eyes everywhere, as well as Jahesh giving Toufic advice on playing hard to get. While I expected Elias and Yasmine to be already married when they got off the boat, being engaged was a better outcome as it provides an A story for the finale and creates the much needed obstacle and tension between Elias and Madison.

Overall this episode was solid and I’m looking forward to next week’s season finale.

 

Stray Observations:

-Toufic’s invention for the episode–The Catch n’ Cook/Hot Rod.

-The show has another sort-of crossover with Olivia appearing on the Today show.

-I did enjoy Kanye’s brief appearances, however I would have enjoyed them more if he was subjected to character development.

-Best one liners:

  • “Idiot savant” (Yasmine on Toufic)
  • “Pretend she doesn’t exist and flex” (Jahesh)
  • “Being rich and white has to have some advantages” (Olivia)

 

 

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 6 (The Beach)

I recently reviewed an episode of American sitcom, Speechless, where the episode was set in one location and character-by-character stories unfolded and were related to this one location. My verdict on that episode was favourable due to this setting, and I feel the same way about this episode of Here Come the Habibs.

This episode was set mostly at one location–the beach. Both the Habibs and the O’Neills are looking forward to a day out, which is pretty much ruined when they run into each other in the parking lot. I loved the writers’ choice to have Jack and Mariam secretly plan the beach day in an effort to get Fou Fou and Olivia to resolve their differences and how things quickly escalated.

I felt that the tactics between Fou Fou and Olivia to one up each other perfectly suited their characters–who else would think to change the labels on the sunscreen and aioli other than Fou Fou? Who else would be callous enough to ruin Mariam’s food other than Olivia? The climax of the situation leading to Olivia and Fou Fou fighting with a beach safety flag and a fish respectively and getting arrested was inevitable and hilarious, which lead to some great and fleeting courtroom scenes.

I felt that the Kanye-Madison-Elias love triangle wasn’t explored as much as it should be, however I felt that this was a deliberate choice by the writers. Rather than having this explored, they have chosen to set it up to be explored in the remaining episodes. It will be interesting to find out whether Madison will stay with him and more importantly, whether the relationship is part of a visa scam as Layla suggested. The most interesting part about his introduction was the awkward scenes between Kanye, Olivia and Jack. Olivia and Jack have been racist and overly politically correct/awkward respectively to the Habibs, and the fact that they acted in a similar way towards Kanye shows that their behaviour isn’t entirely personal and they are uncomfortable towards other races, which provided interesting and unexpected character development.

I felt that the courtroom scenes broke up the episode perfectly, it was a way for the story to be told and prevented any pacing problems. Having Mustafa act as Fou Fou’s solicitor was a nice twist as you would expect it to be Toufic, however it was nice for him to briefly have the spotlight. I felt that the magistrate’s sentence for Olivia and Fou Fou to complete community service and carpool was the perfect punishment. The punishment was not too dissimilar to punishments that would be dished out by a parent or teacher to misbehaving children, and now that Olivia owns her house, the punishment provides another conflict for them.

Overall this episode was mostly solid and understated due to the simplicity in the premise and setting.

 

Stray Observations:

-Toufic’s invention for the episode–The Sand Bar.

-Officers Kemp and Darley (Dave Eastgate and Genevieve Hegney) return.

-Best one liners:

  • “Raising your eyebrows, that’s racist!” (Mustafa)
  • “Don’t try to calm me down with your delicious cooking!” (Fou Fou)

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 5 (The Kidney)

This episode was different to the others…it was understated.

Usually the episodes have clear A and B stories and revolve around a scheme (usually Toufic’s) gone awry. However this episode focused purely on one story, with the jokes pulled back. Perhaps this is due to the serious subject matter.

Unfortunately I found the premise of the episode predictable—I knew that Fou Fou’s diagnosis would have turned out to have been a mistake from the first minute, however I was interested in seeing it played out. I felt Fou Fou trying to spoil Mariam and the kids was incredibly sweet and true to his character and I wasn’t surprised that Mustafa spilt the beans, but I felt that everyone’s reaction to the news was hilarious.

I also found the reveal of Jack being a blood type match for Fou Fou  and Olivia using the situation to buy the house back, predictable. That being said I enjoyed how scheming Olivia was in this episode, especially as she was quite zany as opposed to her usual over-the-top serious. I also enjoyed the fact that the ending of the episode left Jack’s fate unknown.

Meanwhile the Elias and Madison (kind of) relationship is touched upon, with Madison trying to drop subtle hints to Elias that she wants to be with him, and Elias finally admitting that he feels the same, only to chicken out. The series has always taken the unconventional route with their relationship by not having them get together straight away, and drawing out their attraction without the cliché obstacles. I have always appreciated this but I am questioning how long this is going to go on for.

Overall I enjoyed how understated this episode was, however I feel it was undermined by its predictability.

 

 

Stray Observations:

-The name mistake at the beginning of the episode was good, subtle foreshadowing.

-The interior of the Habib’s home was on display in this episode, I think they have good taste.

-Fou Fou summing up Toufic in one sentence—“crazy schemes make him happy.”

Toufic’s invention for this episode—downloading Fou Fou’s brain so his personality lives on in the computer.

-Best one liners:

  • “It’s the other big C” (Jahesh)
  • “Shut the door you’re letting the WiFi out” (Toufic)
  • “I’m not racist, I’m O’Neillist” (Fou Fou)

 

 

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 4 (Middle East Side Story)

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.

 

Stray Observations:

  • 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.

 

 

 

 

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 3 (The Fundertakers)

The reason why my review is a little late is because I found it difficult to decide how I felt about the episode.

Rather than evenly splitting the A and B stories, this episode was really 95 percent A story and 5 percent B story. Unfortunately this week, I didn’t enjoy the A story for two reasons–the story itself was too morbid and the attempt at dark comedy fell a little flat.

While the set-up of Uncle Farid dying wasn’t morbid, it was the rest of the story line, specifically the loss and partial recovery of his body that made it morbid. Toufic’s impulsive decision to set up the Fundertaker business was a huge relief as it added necessary comedic moments.

What I really appreciated about the Fundertaker jokes was that they were certainly original and also provided some character development with Toufic, specifically subtle nods at his hidden intelligence. Toufic, with the assistance of Jahesh and Mustafa, established a business and quickly transformed a coffin in the space of a few hours, not to mention Toufic seemed to know the differences between coughs–hardly the actions of a dumb or idiotic person. While I found no-one else but Mariam picking up on Fou Fou taking Farid’s place in the coffin unrealistic, I did enjoy seeing the normally straight man Fou Fou going along with a out-there scheme, especially one thought of by Jack.

I actually enjoyed the B story of Layla learning how to drive more than the A story. I specifically loved Layla and Fou Fou in the car together as both learner drivers and their supervisor/parents would be able to appreciate both sides of the story. However my favourite moments in this story by far were the scenes with Layla and Madison, showing them bond as friends which has rarely been touched on, and not to mention the burnout scene, which enabled the delivery of a superb one liner. The fact that the burnout scene also enabled the A and B stories to merge was the perfect little cherry on top.

Overall this episode, in comparison to the previous two, fell flat, but only because of the A story. While I appreciated the writers’ expanding the show by going down the dark comedy route, I think the problem was the fact that there were simultaneous dark and slapstick comedic moments being thrown at the viewer and it was a little overwhelming. The balance between the two wasn’t really pulled off, that being said, I don’t think the writers’ should give up on their expansion attempts altogether.

 

Stray Observations:

  • Toufic’s invention for this episode–The Fundertaker business.
  • Best one liners (it’s a tie and the ladies have it):
    • “I’ve seen bigger skid marks on my brother’s undies!” (Layla)
    • “I’m not making you do this but I am insisting.” (Mariam)
  • One liner honourable mention–“That could be anyone’s coffin.” (Olivia)

Here Come the Habibs–Season 2, Episode 2 (Go Back to Where You Came From)

I think this episode was one of the series’ strongest.

I believe this due to the simple but strong writing–there are clear A and B stories, solid interactions between the main characters, and a minor mystery.

The A story of Fou Fou and Olivia joining forces to get Joey Chau out of their homes was well done. Despite their differences, it is clear that Fou Fou and Olivia are alike even though they don’t want to admit it, that being said I’m glad that the show doesn’t constantly try to make them join forces. I feel it’s a cliche and too sitcom-y to constantly make enemies become friends, so I’m glad these bonding moments are few and far between. I did enjoy seeing Fou Fou, Olivia and Jack work together and I think they make a great trio when they set their minds to something. I did enjoy the twist of Joey being arrested for smuggling a snake into the country.

The B story of Layla filming a documentary on racism wasn’t strong on its own, however it made up for it by being constantly present in the background of the episode, including in the background of the A story. The B story also provided the premise of the episode, which was an interesting choice. Showing that Olivia, Fou Fou and Joey make racial stereotypes was good character development, and also addresses some of the different aspects of racism without being preachy. I liked the mystery of the graffiti, especially as it was too easy to be Joey, and I appreciated the twist of Layla ultimately being the one behind it. However as a viewer, I would have liked to have been told or shown how Fou Fou figured it out.

On smaller notes, I did enjoy the scenes between Olivia, Jack, Mariam and Ronald, although the outcome was predictable. I’m hoping that Mariam being in the star role of “Middle East Side Story” will be addressed in future episodes. I also appreciated the continuity of the issues between Elias and Madison, which still haven’t been addressed, something to look forward to in future episodes.

On another note, I feel that the writers’ are starting to branch out with supporting characters to provide mostly unrealistic but a needed dose of outside humour. Last episode it was Samantha, this episode it was the two police officers who took reports on the graffiti and arrested Joey. While Samantha didn’t so much make any jokes, rather her presence provided the opportunity for jokes, the police officers made jokes themselves. I especially loved the male officer (Dave Eastgate) actually admitting he never wanted to be a cop, and the female officer being unable to hide how impressed she was by Joey’s muscles. I hope that the appearances of humorous supporting characters continues throughout the season.

Stray Observations:

  • Toufic’s inventions for this episode–The Toncho (poncho within a tie) and pants that play bass music.
  • Doctor Doctor alumni, Dave Eastgate (Joey/Police Officer) and Charles Wu (Ken/Joey Chau).
  • The Footy Show sort-of crossover was a nice addition, especially as it provided another location to be used for the episode.
  • The nickname, ‘Double F’ for Fou Fou.
  • Best one liner–“Idiots will never be caught short again!” (Toufic)