Married with Children... All Things Episodic


0726  -  The Proposition

Very much a season finale, The Proposition stands out - like so much of this season by 
virtue of its polish and confidence. Whereas earlier season finales would be quiet affairs 
that reaffirmed the series and could have fitted in anywhere along the line, the trilogy the 
was filmed in England set a precedent for larger-scale stories that either threatened or 
else expanded the show's premise beyond what we could normally expect from a middle-of-the-year 
story. The Proposition belongs to the first class of these two, as the episode goes right 
to the edge of splitting up the Bundy family. Casting Vanna White as Coco, the woman who is 
responsible for all of this, is a stroke a genius; she is purely a plot device and the script 
is not shy of recognising this. It's not too cruel to say that White has limited acting 
abilities and is there for the visual impact; the story is about the Bundys, as ever using them 
as a metaphor for the Great American Public. What would you do if a supermodel decided you, an 
ordinary person, was The One? This is the Married with Children version of everyone's daydream, 
by turns hilariously funny and then piquant and touching.

Married with Children is amazingly good at taking the smallest little plot device and making 
a big thing out of it. The Proposition is one of the ultimate examples of this and never 
for one second tries to pretend at realism. This must be the only show Vanna White has guested 
on where she gets to walk on set with a pizza in one hand. The subsequent moment when Kelly, 
Bud and Peg go sniffing around her (ooh...ooh...ahh!) is brilliant, with even the audience 
joining in. It's a parody, in many ways, of how other sitcoms gather the most unlikely stars for 
cameo appearances - this must be the most unlikely and, as ever, Married with Children exploits 
this to the limit. The contrived fainting scenes with Bud, Kelly and Peg are examples of this 
too. Not only is The Proposition an exploration of everybody's fantasy, but it also 
parodies sitcoms themselves in its theatricality and its joyful irrationality, careening from 
just a casual scene in the Bundy bedroom to Coco turning up in the shoe store a day later with 
a most unbelievable proposal. Thirdly, of course, it's a ripoff of the film Indecent Proposal 
with Al in the Demi Moore role, although since that film was utterly ridiculous the episode 
struggles to make it seem any worse.

Where it scores, instead, is in Ed O'Neill's performance as Al, self-esteem suddenly boosted 
to stratospheric levels by this attention and - as always when this happens - rising above the 
circumstances of his life. Katey Sagal, too, is magnificent. When she realises she might actually 
lose her husband, upon whom she depends (little though she may admit), Peg is abruptly reduced 
to desperate actions. The ultimate of this is the eleventh-season trilogy Breaking Up Is Easy 
To Do, but that was never so emotionally charged as this tale. In that one, we knew they 
would get back together. Here, at the end of a season, was a cliff-hanger ending in the offing? 
Could the Bundys be splitting up like this? It would certainly have made the eighth season 
fascinating. By virtue of its position in the season and not for a second - until the end - 
intimating that either Peg or Al might have doubts, The Proposition has edge that makes 
the viewer feel that it just might be possible. It is a brilliant script that has polish, some 
perfect lines, and is definitely the best of the season.

Top of the class!

10 points.

By Grail


send your MWC review to me

home on the range