This SOLAR OPPOSITES review contains spoilers.
Solar Opposites Episode 6
The bulk of Solar Opposites’ plots draw from the simple, but richly adaptable framework of introducing a classic comedy trope into the aliens lives, but, because they’re aliens, the trope plays out in a bizarre sci-fi fashion that deviates drastically from the plot’s basis, typically culminating in the deaths of a whole lot of people.
In a way, it makes me think of Beavis and Butt-Head, a series which deserves more credit for completely subverting conventional TV comedy storytelling.Maybe this is kind of a funky comparison because Solar Opposites is still a heavily structured sitcom, while Beavis and Butt-Head is borderline structureless, but both of them defy sitcom expectations by virtue of their protagonists being unconventional factors in what might be otherwise conventional stories. Basically, Beavis and Butt-head are too stupid to embark on full character arcs and the aliens of Solar Opposites are too stupid and too technologically advanced to not approach their character arcs all wrong while causing loads of collateral damage in the process.
“The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. Device” openly and repeatedly lets you know this is going to be an episode about gender issues and, for Terry and Korvo, these issues will be explored through the storytelling vehicle of the sitcom mom trope when they build a mombot named Patricia modeled after four different sitcom moms smushed together (and Sophia from Golden Girls). Jesse is also tackling gender as she has an assignment from her feminist teacher to shatter a glass ceiling and provide proof she fought the patriarchy.
Terry and Korvo’s plot is more blatant about it but Jesse’s feels like a riff on previously tread territory as well, as she attempts to join a bunch of boys’ sports teams and clubs, only to discover everyone is woker than expected and girls are already welcome. Lisa Simpson tried to join a football team and ran into the very same problem in season nine of The Simpsons, but it was just a throwaway gag. Jesse (the Lisa of Solar Opposites)gets a whole plot out of it and it ends with her giving an inspiring speech to the mombot because that’s how this show is.
Also par for the course is that, in the end, nobody actually learns all that much of anything; the aliens create their own chaos and then eventually tamp that chaos down. The gender politics premise is there primarily to wring as many jokes out of it as possible, which “The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. Device” does with aplomb. There’s an overabundance of great gags, but I’ll mention some favorites.
I love the guy-centric posters Terry and Korvo have up in their manc ave [sic] for Boys Don’t Cry, Boys on the Side, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. There’s the boy gamer realizing all the other members of the gaming club are girls (“Oh no! I’ve been using some very coded language!”). Jesse is surprised no one can tell she’s a girl because she wears a bow. Pretty much all of Patricia’s scathing one-liners are perfect and this episode also features the best use of Katy Perry’s “Roar” I’ve ever seen.
Yumyulack doesn’t want to get involved in the gender plot, seeing it as a touchy subject, so he has his own plot about getting into Australian culture and accidentally releasing hundreds of koalas from the zoo. His “plot” takes place mostly offscreen and is one big joke, but is still hilariously teased with Yumyulack talking about didgeridoos and saying “g’day.” You can even spot a random koala in the scene where Patricia goes on a man cave rampage, which makes no sense until the end of episode.
“The P.A.T.R.I.C.I.A. Device” is another episode of Solar Opposites doing what it does best: using sitcom tropes as a plot basis and then chucking all conventional sitcom story progression out the window in favor of sci-fi carnage. It’s well-structed, consistently funny, and singlehandedly solves every gender issue. Thank you, Solar Opposites.