Recently I wrote about As Told Ginger’s depression episode and the response was good and interesting across social media. As alluded to at the end of that, today I thought we would look at one of the saddest and dare I say most cringe-inducing episodes…
Episode 33: Family Therapy
In a series that has a caffeine addiction episode and one about stuffing bras, the one that feels the most awkward is an episode about one of Ginger’s best-friends Macie and her 13th birthday.
Macie is the nerdy girl stereotype of the early 2000s with constant references to her allergies, an inability to take the pressure of attention from her peers while also wanting it (in a weird way), a snorty laugh, and highly intelligent yet somehow seeming kind of dumb at times. Where Ginger is the creative leader of her friend group and Dodie is the gossiping wannabe popular girl, Macie tempers them by reminding them that they are only teens or that their parents likely wouldn’t want them to do the things they do in order to gain popularity. In the episode family therapy, Macie’s nervous and downright depressing family life is brought to the forefront.
It is Macie’s 13th birthday that she sadly shares with a popular and wealthy girl named Mipsy. While Mipsy’s party will be filled with all matter of large spectacle, Macie’s birthday party seems to be a surprise to her as her parents have been secretive as of late. Ginger is excited about her friend’s big age change and even turns down an invite to the Mipsy’s more exciting party, opting to not only go to Macie’s party but also bake a cake for it.
On Macie’s birthday, with still no invite, Ginger and Dodie sit waiting to understand what is happening for their friend’s birthday, to only get a call from her.
A sad heartbreaking call that her parents forgot her birthday and that she was now home alone.
Now you may be thinking that this is where the cringe comes from, but no. It is coming soon. You will know.
Ginger being the type of friend she is, decides to confront Macie’s parents. Macie’s parents are revealed to be two highly successful therapists who almost don’t see their own daughter as their receptionist tells Macie she can see them in several weeks (something Macie is excited for). Storming in Ginger tell Macie’s parents their mistake and they move quickly to rectify it.
All is well right?
Well, no. You see, apparently her parents forgetting her is a common thing, so much so that they don’t seem to know what age she is turning. They treat this now thirteen-year-old girl like she is turning 5. They buy her a children’s jungle gym set, they take her to an indoor children’s activity zone, they style her hair like she is a preschooler. All of this makes Ginger (and the viewer) uncomfortable as Macie seems to love and enjoy the attention given by her parents.
It all comes to a boil as Ginger suggest Macie speak to her parents and the usually timid Macie instead strongly tells Ginger that it is none of her business and that Ginger should butt out otherwise she won’t receive an invite to Macie’s newly planned birthday party.
AND OH BOY THE PARTY!
Held at a petting zoo, you have Macie’s parents in costumes dancing and acting, Macie herself in a little girl’s ballerina birthday dress complete with plastic crown.
Ginger fearing for her friend’s embarrassment attends and is shocked the party is a success as their classmates think it is all a jokingly themed party. I am sure this is meant to be some kind of commentary about how people should just be allowed to be themselves, but when coupled with an early speech that Macie gave about how her parents finally are showing her attention, it feels like a mismatched moral. Like it is just Macie wanting her parents to not be upset with her.
At the end of the party (and the conclusion of Carl’s subplot that involves a naked molerat) Ginger apologizes and give Macie a sweater labeling her as a teen with Macie saying she will tell her parents the truth. An ending I’m not sure was really planned. With all the drama proceeding it, the ending feels like they read the script and didn’t like where it was left. It doesn’t feel genuine but I am SO relieved that this won’t become the norm.
So that is Family Therapy. It is interesting, sad, and dare I say a great story idea. The only thing that makes it a cringe laden thing to watch for me is the montage of this girl desperate for parental love and attention, taking it in any form, no matter how bizarre. I really enjoy showing this episode to people after they see a few episodes of the series cause while I understand if not everyone thinks that it is as awkward as I do, I find the sadness felt for Macie, and the ability by many to relate to her it to be one of the strengths of the show.
Being young and weird can suck. The support of family and friends is how a lot of people make it from their day to day, and when your own parents forget you, maybe being a 6-year-old loved by them is just what you need for a bit.
I don’t know.
As Told By Ginger is a masterpiece of relatable plots and likable characters. The next time we talk about this show we will be talking about a little more of a drama filled episode.