Bizarre character twists, R-rated dialogue, and hours of silent glaring — that’s what you can expect in Seasons 13-18 of Your Child’s Life.
Everyone knows you can skip the first five seasons. Then Seasons 6-12 were delightful. The Parents came off as genuine everyday heroes, papier-mâchéing the shit out of science fair volcanoes and finally getting some sex scenes. But I’m now fully caught up, and I need to warn you: they must have fired the showrunner and the entire writing team. Because in Season 13, everything went off the rails.
The first warning sign was strange character changes. I don’t know whether this came from the actor or the writers’ room, but you can forget about the adorable Child from Season 7 who came in second in the spelling bee despite missing two front teeth. In Season 13, it’s mostly slamming doors, staring at a phone screen, and squinting evilly.
You might expect the central teenage character in a show like this to slay vampires, solve crimes, or balance the challenges of teenage life with a burgeoning surgical practice. But the Child has no special skills. The Child has no catchphrases. The Child barely even has phrases. Instead, the supposed star of the show alternates between monosyllabic grunts, social media memes, and outbursts so foul they’d cause a longshoreman to soil his trousers.
The Parents’ dialogue suffers, too. Remember in Season 4, when the Parents tried so hard to avoid cursing? They’d catch with a save like, “You ungrateful little shi…h tzu.” But that stopped after the Child called the Parents “fucking tampons.”
The network suits must have cut the location budget. Remember those fun plot arcs revolving around trips to the zoo, the playground, and the two-episode holiday special at Disney? Now the Child’s scenes are almost all set in a darkened bedroom, a darkened basement, or the parking lot behind a 7-Eleven.
And what genre is this show even supposed to be now? It started as a family drama, but now the writers can’t seem to decide. Is it some sort of conspiratorial political thriller? That’s where I thought they were going in Season 15, when the Child started ranting about the Parents’ “complicity in the system.”
Then when they introduced driving in Season 16, I thought it’d become an action show or police procedural with extended car chases, or at least the occasional rollover. But it just turned out to be the Parents worrying all evening while the Child drove to the mall a little faster than strictly necessary for a 2009 Honda Accord LX.
And in Season 18, I thought it might turn into a financial thriller. The Parents spent an entire bottle episode in the kitchen hunched over a spreadsheet, talking in hushed tones about “working the numbers.” But they were just filling out the FAFSA.
Where does Your Child’s Life go from here? All the actors have renegotiated their contracts, and the Season 18 finale hints that the Child will soon be “going off to college.” That usually means a show will introduce a slew of new series regulars and downgrade others to occasional guest stars. The Parents will be lucky to get any credit at all.
As strange as Seasons 13-18 have been, I’ve stuck with it. Yes, the script contains an astonishing quantity of explosive anger, strong coarse language, and intense sexual situations. (That’s the Child; the Parents are mostly weeping.) But you’ll want to see how the characters end up. The Parents seem to be headed for divorce, decompensation, or witness protection. For the Child, I foresee a pregnancy scare, a drunken encounter with an unimpressed provost, or a slow death bleeding facedown in a ditch with a phone that doesn’t ring because, contrary to the Parents’ very clear warning, the Child has drained the phone’s battery by playing too much YouTube.
My mother predicts that if the show survives another eight or ten seasons, they’ll have a big wedding special and then add a new child actor to the cast. “I don’t know, Ma,” I said. “Seasons 1-5 were pretty rough. Who the hell wants to watch another baby?”
She told me that if they introduce a new kid, you can just pop in to watch the show once a week, and then “thank God that the fucking hour’s over.” But how the hell would she know?