Season 5 Episode 16

Gene Shelly

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jan 13, 2009 on FX

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
113 votes
  • This episode is most notable for its recycled plots, sensationalism, and shallow characterizations.

    This show ceased to be artful as soon as it won the Golden Globe, and this episode was further proof. How many times do they need to show Christian's vomit before the audience "gets it"? Yes, cancer sucks. But I already knew that, having lost my mother, father-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, and three aunts to cancer. A balance between the graphic and the subtle is far more persuasive than this constant stream of "let's see how gross we can be before the censors shut us down." The sex scene between Christian and Liz was unwatchable, and Raj's miraculous realization of what had happened between them was preposterous. Rather than actually taking the time for Christian and Liz to deal with the aftermath, and for the truth to come to light as a result of their own internal struggles, Raj just read their minds. This insensitive, self-involved, teenage medical phenome suddenly had the empathy and the people skills to intuit what Christian and Liz weren't saying. This storyline could be wonderful if handled well, but so far - well, I'd call it a train wreck, but a train wreck would be more interesting. The diaper was predictable. Not clever, not funny, not insightful. It didn't even work as a metaphor. Sean allowed the floozy to treat him like a baby because she was hot, not because she was filling some psychic need in him. It was her fantasy, not his, and he just went along with it for the sex. If that wasn't the takeaway the writers intended, then they should have shown the characters engaged in some activity other than sex. If they were at a restaurant, and he let her cut his steak, okay, maybe I'd have bought that he liked her taking care of him. But because he let her give him a bath? Sorry, no. The Shelleys were just a couple more characters to add to the freak pile. Not especially interesting, but okay. The show's done transgender issues before, so it's hardly breaking new ground. Raj is experiencing the same confusion over Tracy that Matt experienced after learning about Ava's sexuality. Maybe the show's just run out of questions to ask, or freakishness to expose. Maybe in 80 episodes, they've already told all the stories there are to tell. But I doubt it. The remarkable thing is that the level of acting on this show still remains strong. These actors deserve far better writing, and so does the audience. I keep hoping that the show will find its way back to the brilliance of the first two seasons, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. The writers are too complacent, too content with shortcuts, too focused on sensational plots to create the true drama that comes from character exploration. These characters are so rich, yet the writers continue their feeble attempts to dazzle the audience with the fool's gold on the surface rather than mining the ore beneath. What a waste.
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