The sitcom parody Jesse’s “Blessing” proved that Aldo and his father are a much more dysfunctional family than The Conners despite their flaws.
Although The Conners isn’t the most subversive sitcom, the return of Joe Walsh as Aldo’s father, Jesse, overturned a famous trope of the genre. While some sitcoms, like Development stopped and Communityderive most of their humor from the usurpation of television comedy conventions, The Conners generally offers a simpler brand of humor. Like its predecessor Roseane, The ConnersThe secret weapon is fun storylines rooted in real working class issues, from precarious employment to the rising cost of higher education.
However, from time to time, The Conners mine of big laughs while parodying clichés of sitcom. Usually this happens when one of the show‘s more heartfelt characters like Jackie or Mark seems to put on a schmaltzy, sentimental moment only for a more sardonic character like Harris or Darlene to cut through the sweetness with a pointed lining. However, Joe Walsh’s return to The Conners saw the series take this idea further.
In “Three Ring Circus” (Season 4, Episode 19), Joe Walsh returned as Aldo Jesse’s father and, despite his disapproval of his son’s plan to marry Harris, smoothed things over with his brood. The episode focused on Harris’ Conners storyline from season 4 as she once again told Louise, Becky, and Jesse that she intended to stay with Aldo despite their advice. However, one scene saw Jesse tell Aldo that he opposed his marriage to Harris with “every fiber of my being“but then blessed the union anyway since he was”always proud of you, son – but not of what you do and who you are.“A bizarre and contradictory claim, the line was a clever deconstruction of the typical sweet golden moments featured in family sitcoms.
Jesse’s meaningless comment and Aldo’s inappropriate emotional reaction to it underscored the difference between an unconventional, “dysfunctional” family like the Conners and a genuinely dysfunctional family like Aldo and Jesse’s. Although earlier in The Conners Season 4 plot, Harris defended his relationship with Aldo when Jesse told him to leave his son, Aldo instantly forgave his father because he was apparently not even aware that Jesse was actively insulting him. For his part, Jesse also seemed oblivious to the fact that his words weren’t a sweet sendoff for his son and were instead a cold condemnation of his conduct.
Although it sometimes seems like the Conners don’t care about each other because of how often they relentlessly make fun of each other, the family tries to be okay with and respect each other even when they’re not. Okay. However, much like The Conners discovered That 70s showLax parenting, the sitcom’s Jesse/Aldo scene underscored how many sweet sitcom moments are hollow and meaningless when the father/son duo patch things up despite neither of them growing up, growing up, changes or improves in any way. The duo coming to terms with their terrible relationship and treating their mutual disdain as if it were an achievement was an unusually dark sitcom subversion for The Connersbut it was an effective contrast to how the titular family constantly needles but ultimately supports each other, compared to Jesse and Aldo’s terrible setup.
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