dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As we all know, the Mike of the Early Years acted like a real weirdo when Lawrence got dragged off to Thunder Bay because his idiot mother didn't want to face what she expected would be the derision and scorn of the masses for her self-induced plight. While a regular person would note that the beige kid had moved away, shrugged and become insta-friends forever with the kid with glasses, Mike acted like a teenaged girl moping because "You Don't UNDERSTAND, MOTHER!! You're OLD and you've forgotten what Love IS!!!!" had left for Uni and more or less declared they were on break; this off-kilter take on childhood friendships plodded mercilessly on with the two of them acting like lovers who'd almost forgotten each other after Connie moved back in with a rich husband to wave in the faces of men who'd moved on and forgotten her, thanks loads.

The reason that I mention this is that despite the fact that the Michael of 2017 still probably thinks of Lawrence as his friend instead of Liz's, the plain fact is that after Martha enters the picture, their friendship is effectively at an end. In a heart-beat, he turns into bosom pal who Mike can't live without into one of the following three things:

  1. An immature jerk trying to drag Mike back down into being a useless, irresponsible single person instead of someone good trying to make his way in the world the only acceptable way by impressing a female contemporary.
  2. A rival for Martha's affection.
  3. Mike's token gay friend who Mike is as warm to as Connie and Greg are for much the same reason.


Anyone who hurts Lynn's feelings by paying attention to continuity is probably going to note that after 1 September 1988, the role of Mike's actual best friend stops being 'beige kid from next door' Lawrence and starts being Gordon "Stumbling Idiot Wingman" Mayes because he also wants to make his mark and be a husband instead of a boy.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Of course, Michael isn't the only one undergoing a sea change in the next year. We know that adding a female contemporary in the mix to impress turns him from a dim-witted accepter of foolish dares into a clueless but better-behaved moron boyfriend. Lizzie starts to mutate into Liz in about five months' time when she declares that she looks stooooopid and ugly and because of that, no one can or should like her. As I've said before, the strip that explains why this might be is the one in which, after having her hair braided and receiving compliments from a lot of friendly people who like her hair that way, she tearfully takes them out and wailed that everyone everywhere tore her down because Random McAssbucket made the same sort of massive flapping anus of himself Trash Bag Johnny did when, after cheerfully insulting her to show her who's boss, declared that she was too young to feel good about who she was as a person.

What this tells us is that Liz is one of those horribly depressing people we all have to deal with in our lives: the person who needs to feel like an ugly monster no one should like and who seeks out damaging idiots who make her feel like shit so she can be proven right about how hideous she is. The Liz Pattersons of the world can't allow themselves to listen to advice from people who wanna help them or take honest compliments seriously because to do that would mean that the looming shapes of malice in their lives that can't fucking get over having a kid sister, asswipe fathers who get to decide when she can feel good and mothers who see her as a rival for her husband's affections aren't worth powder and shot and certainly aren't worth marrying Blandthony for.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
As we know, Lynn seems to have wanted Gordon to be a Very Bad Influence Indeed on Michael because she can't quite own up to the fact that the moron doesn't need help doing stupid things that aren't in his best interests. The irritating thing is having to remember that aside from his being a mad scientist this coming week, all he really does is reveal that Elly is an ignorant and panicky idiot who doesn't like or trust children much. From assuming sight unseen that a video arcade would HAVE to be a seedy dive to caterwauling about his putting Mike up to do something she convinced herself meant his arrest by getting him to dress up like what pasty little suburban kids thought a punk rocker was, Elly clearly doesn't trust her children not to embarrass her because she cannot allow herself to live in a world where they'd choose wisely without her constant input.

The problem is that this sort of contrast can't last in a world where Mike is a too-damned-young romantic lead. It's fine for what Lynn sees as an easily-influence innocent to be led astray by a hooligan-by-definition because his dad makes less than John does. It's not fine for what she wants us to see as an in-over-his-head kid (only stunted snarker-troll fungus people see him as a repellent failure as a boyfriend) to have the old Gordon as a wingman. What she wants is a clear buffoon to contrast against Mike's confusion and earnestness. The problem is that she doesn't understand men so Gordon ends up looking like the protagonist and Mike the moron stumblebum.
dreadedcandiru2: (Default)
Another interesting thing takes place in a year's time that almost goes unnoticed. Said blink-and-you'll miss it moment is when Lizzie wants everyone in class to pay attention to her stooooooopid nose because it's clear as anything to her that it's her stooooopid nose and not her angry scowling that makes people avoid her. One of her classmates tells her that no, she never noticed that Lizzie had a stoooopid nose because she was too busy paying attention to the face it was attached to. Said student's name: Candace O'Hallaran!

That's right. Lizardbreath's pet antagonist seems to have started out as more or less someone whose job description was to check Liz's expiration date because Lizzie was cute and she had stoooopid freckles and stooooopid mutant teeth and bad grades and so on and so forth. Once Candace started to....ah....develop, she mutated into the low-grade mean girl who stunk things up for years on end by highlighting what a dozy bonehead Liz was. We didn't need a reminder that Liz was stupid and self-defeating because the facts spoke for themselves.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about Elly and John's panicky bleating as regards how Michael is suddenly a hostile stranger who disrepects them and wants to usher in a world where he makes his own rules and so on and so forth is that they not only look like panicky morons pissing themselves because he's starting to think for himself, they're also obsessed with his hairstyle.

The reason that I mention this is that the extra-annoying Christmas At Exile Farm arc sort of gives the game away. We have Mike desperately trying to look like this cool dude only to have either Elly or Bev lecture him about how no one is there to impress when Bev musses his hair up like he's some little kid. If he's got his hair slicked up in order to attract girls with dangerous body language and impress his hoodlum friends, he hates the family and wants to destroy goodness and niceness. If he lets his hair get arranged in the rightful and mother-respecting Evil Linus Van Pelt look, he's Elly's baby who loves her and kindless and all the love in her great big heart. This leads us to what I'm starting to call a Foob Axiom:

Axiom 3a: John and Elly hate like fire the idea that their children have people who influence their lives that are not them. According to John and Elly, they or people they trust should be the only people on Earth their kids listen to and respect.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As you know, one of the less palatable of Middle Years Mike's traits is his being too blasted stupid and into himself to realize when he's putting Martha on the spot. He hadn't the vaguest idea of why Martha had to share his note because he didn't want to admit that she was just as much at pains to fit in with the girls as he was with the guys and he hadn't the blindest idea (nor especially wanted to have said blindest idea) that the reason she didn't write him is that most people aren't good at writing letters and have a hard time trying to decide what to say. In both instances, Mike reminded us that he's an extension of a woman who isn't very good at understanding why people do what they do and also tends to be a gloomy idiot who holds grudges and has impossible standards to meet by acting like he was this huge hero for exhibiting the bare minimum of common decency.

This, I should think, is because unlike his creator, Mike had in his arsenal the wonderful thing called "a friend who can call him on his weak BS and make him listen." Good old Gordon was in his corner telling him to not act like a swinish git and make up with the person who didn't actually snub the fool. Personally, I wouldn't have stuck my nose in and let the fool get embarrassed when the truth finally hit him over his stupid head but I'm not a nice person by any stretch of the imagination. His incessant and idiotic wailing about being a bug on a windshield the second things don't go his way offends me and I wish to see it punished, not rewarded as it is here.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about the irritating arc that we've put behind us is having to remember that later on, Mike actually behaves as if he had been grounded when they punish him. Oh, he complains about the unfairness of the punishment imposed on him but he does accept the punishment instead of trying to duck it like he does here. Before 1988, he was so out of control that he actually was a burden to Elly. He wouldn't go next door when she wasn't home, he seemed bent on trying to chase Lizzie away and he does horrible things like climb up trees in hopes of seeing if the girl next door is wearing a bra or not. Afterward, he stopped looking like Evil Linus Van Pelt and started acting like Generic Inoffensive Clueless Dumb Guy From The Sticks Number Two. This leaves us asking what external force came and changed him from an antisocial monster into the dullard wondering why his parents want to give him a hard time by having him around to call irresponsible. I think I have the answer and she has the body and the language Elly Richards never allowed herself to have.

The reason I think that Martha did Michael the world of good is that she was the first person he seems to have met that actually seemed to want to really have him around. While he'd later go on to cast her as yet another person who only pretended to like him so she could bust his ass and mock him for thinking he deserved to belong anywhere, the plain fact is that before her, I cannot think of a cast member who was really grateful that Michael Patterson is part of their life. Elly's undiagnosed post-partum depression and hatred of conflict means that she loves her son but cannot resist telling him that she cannot like him, John is looking for instant obedience and Lizzie seems to not much care for him. What escapes Elly and the others is that the reason Mike doesn't much like the people he's with is that up until the fire messed with his brains, he saw the Pattermanse as a penitentiary filled with cruel guards that lived to treat him like a shitheel. What could they expect of him other than rebellion? Since Martha allowed him to dream of escape from the tyranny of filial piety, his behaviour improved because he felt an emotion he hadn't before: hope.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we know, the depressing payoff of the current arc is Lizzie saying that she cannot wait until she's a grown up because they don't do the irritating thing Paula did and deliver a big, stupid ultimatum about how there can be only one best friend. This begins a trend of Liz making adults sigh a wistful sigh of hating to break the bad news to her about how they don't actually have love and life figured out either. Here she is, wondering when people are going to start treating each other right and not seeing that she'll have to wait a very long time for that to happen.

The sad part is that we're also dealing with someone who doesn't see herself as having the horrible capacity for destruction and malice that she wields like a bludgeon. She has no idea that she's been the same peevish jerk to Dawn when she delivered her own big, stupid ultimatum about choosing between her and Shawna-Marie and she doesn't admit that most of the reason she'll always hate Therese is that she was told where she could and could not go and couldn't handle that well. Hell, she made Mike make the most sense when he warned her not to rub Therese's nose in the fact that as far as she saw it, she was always going to be in second place to some girl Anthony barely really dated in high school.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we know, we sort of play musical friends in a week or so when Lynn wants to drop an anvil on us as concerns how shabbily adults behave and how we should grow out of petty, stupid behaviour. This is because the same Paula who's going to wave her piercings under Lizzie's nose to make her feel bad delivers a big, stupid ultimatum about how there can be only one best friend in her life. This led Lynn to change Melody from a snob to a sort of ditzy little thing who didn't realize how intimidating she was or something.

The reason that I mention this is that it all turns out to not matter much in the end. Just as we don't get the standard moment where a Patterchild Learns Something From A Special Teacher until Elly turns into a blubbering heap when Liz chooses to talk to Miss Edwards rather than have her loving mother leap down her throat and turn everything into a referendum about herself, both Paula and Melody might as well have dropped off of the face of the Earth when May comes around thereby leaving Lizzie in the state Lynn seems to have decided was best for her: virtually friendless and confused as to why that might be. We have to wait a year or so for Lynn to realize that since Lizzie and Dawn are the same age, it makes sense that they hang out together. Before that, we had Mike in his pack and Lizzie being alone and sad and confused as to where she fit in. We also had Mike envying someone who's worse off because all he can see is the special treatment lavished on her for not fitting in well and not the not fitting in well. Doing that would possibly lead to his realizing that he's not the victim of all victims surpassing all others and that would be just awful.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about the Middle Years is having to remember exactly why it is that Mike is thought of as having a bad attitude that isn't simply his not wanting to get away from a house he's starting to regard as a maximum security prison run by a cruel warden who spends her days thinking up new ways to torment the children she only had in the first place to have people to be mean to because she's incapable of kindness and happiness. While I like to dream about what would have happened if he realized that there was a whiny infant weeping about how awful she felt about having to make decisions and be the heavy inside the implacable loudmouth, the fact is that he never learns about her and he never learns what he did to piss his mother off.

This is something of a shame because it keeps him from figuring out how to avoid getting himself into trouble. While he does know that for some reason, his mother overreacts horribly to his not immediately and cravenly agreeing to do her bidding, what he doesn't get is that when she's got a stupid idea that hurts her in her head, she'd rather die than dislodge it and be happy because of her need to be taken seriously. This is why his cruel, hateful and hurtful comments about how her baffling habit of acting as if her life is all used up and gone at the horrible age of forty is as absurd and self-destructive as her belief that she's somehow morbidly obese and thus unworthy of love and fellowship are not taken well. Elly has no real interest in being reassured because she wants her crazy self-destructive delusions taken with as much pointless seriousness as she takes them. Admitting that she's still young, presentable and slim means that she's wasted her life feeling sorry for herself over lies and that would make her a fool who isn't worth being taken seriously and that's bad. Eventually, though, he learns to shut up and agree with whatever mush she speaks because he knows it ain't worth it to make her see the truth because she's always going to prefer a melodramatic lie that confirms her self-hatred than the truth.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we saw, yesterday's reprint had Lizzie totally fail at pouring juice because she didn't understand the core concept. We also saw her fail at sharpening her pencil because she obsessively ground it down to a nub to get it razor sharp. This tells us that we're starting to develop the second part of her middle years identity: the little girl who's rather incompetent when asked to do things because she isn't really paying attention.

She doesn't get better with age, sadly. In a few years, we'll see her run for her life from an accidentally drenched Elly because she's tasked with washing the house and forgets to check if all the windows are closed and deal with her asking Mommy if unintentionally bursting the bag of milk because she doesn't pay attention to that either means that she has to move. We also have to see Elly stand around screaming when she forgets where she put her glasses and so on and so forth. This means that the pattern is:

1) Lizzie is asked to do something.
2) Through inattention, she makes a mess of things.
3) Elly stands around screaming about how everything bad happens to her.
4) No one explains what Lizzie did wrong so she can do better next time.
5) No one teaches Lizzie to do things the right way.
6) Things are forgotten and Lizzie learns the wrong lesson.
7) Return to Step One.

This means that Lizzie's oblivious nature is a direct side-effect of her mother being an angry idiot who loves martyrdom and pissing away teachable moments because the stupid cow thinks that's asking too much of her. Eventually, she'll be perplexed that Liz goes to a stranger for advice instead of listening to her guano.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
I think that it's pretty safe to say that for the first few years of the strip, Elly's cooking was not especially palatable owing to her reliance of heavy stews, heavy casseroles and a need to experiment instead of staying true to the sainted trilogy 'meat and two veg.' This, I think, was so that Lynn could get on her family's case about loving what other people cooked better and thus obviously not loving her at all. The thing that should be noticed is that despite occasional flare-ups in which she still made the stupid mistake of thinking "Aaron isn't fooling me when he says that he hates the taste of menu item X; he actually means that he hates ME", this started to go away when she moved to Corbeil and checked out of daily family life.

The reason is simple as paper. Since she wasn't doing much cooking, the anxiety about whether people actually like her and fear of being replaced didn't manifest themselves. Since the stressor went away, Elly was allowed to be a better cook so that Lynn couldn't yap at her family about how they're trying to fool her and make her about to be a paranoid basket-case who LOVES feeling miserable and lost when they say that when people tell her that she can improve some skill, it doesn't actually mean that they HATE her and want her to suffer and feel miserable.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The odd thing about Michael is that when he finally does join the Middle Years, he changes from Evil Linus Van Pelt into a stumbling fool who can always be counted on to make a mess of things owing to his being transfixed by the stupid idea that everyone he knows is lying in wait for the chance to make a big fool out of him and laugh at him for daring to want to be happy. This, of course, is what happens when the grandiose get anxious; they assume that everyone envies their greatness and yearns to destroy them to feel good about their own miserable and pointless lives. The problem is that Mike is rock freaking stupid, not aware of what's going on in the background and not especially inclined to find out what's going on.

While it's easy to pick on him for stupidly shoving Martha away because he's too dumb to know what he's doing, not realizing or caring that her idiot friends think that her wanting to have a private life somehow magically means that she thinks she's better than they are, not realizing that her parents don't like him and especially not noticing that his stupidly taking her for granted is a turn-off is too damned easy. What we need to remind ourselves is that Lawrence's outing is a direct consequence of his being a jackass.

This is because the fatuous git thought that Lawrence was pretending to be 'normal' all those years for the sole purpose of making Mike Patterson look stupid. Lawrence's justified fear of how his parents might react and his need to mitigate their insane over-reaction by waiting until it could not hurt him meant nothing to Stupidhead because he'd been lied to by a lying liar who lied and things had to be made right fast. The end result is that Connie and Greg get to parade around boasting about how great they are tolerating that miserable deviant and Mike has lost a friend due to his own stupid vanity and criminal, infantile idiocy. The other end result is that Mike thinks that he's a great friend to Lawrence who has his back because grandiose twits don't learn things.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about the upcoming wedding planning arc is that we start to mark a transition in Elly. The Elly of the Early Years was often seen scrambling to find an identity outside the home so as to contribute more to society than children and a tidy house. The Elly that's busy helping Georgia make her dream come true and also finally make an adult of Phil doesn't seem to have that conflict. While we do get occasional flare-ups of the old conflict when the character most reluctant to embrace the wider world in which the Pattersons find themselves because he cannot hope to occupy all of it, the Elly who doesn't have to watch Mike be a needy gitface seems to have transcended that desperate search.

This is because we're now dealing with Middle Years Elly who can supposedly inhabit both worlds. While often seen at home, we do know that she does have a life outside of it because we reference it when we're not looking at the children stumble through their daily lives and experience it directly when Lynn wants to bludgeon her children over the head about how clingy they get or us about how stingy the government is with tax dollars. This seems to be signified by her wardrobe changing from a shirt and mom jeans to a rather dowdy looking dress. Hmmm. Most of them change their appearance to signify buy-in to the new paradigm. John is more clearly defined physically, Elizabeth stops looking like a demented Sally Brown and Elly starts dressing for success. The only person who looks the same is Mike because he doesn't want to live in a world that doesn't revolve around him. This gets him mauled because he's stupid.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
I'd like to get back to the strip we actually have by talking about an issue dear to my heart: Lynn's default assumption that a mere woman could never really hurt a big, tough man and its pal the idea that a man who could get hurt by a woman isn't really a man at all. In the Early Years, this manifested itself in an angry Elly hurling a coffee cup at the back of John's head when he said something that displeased her. This, of course, continues on for years but is accompanied by something else as the Middle and Later Years arrive: Elizabeth firing off and punching Michael in the stomach when he won't shut his fat yap.

When Liz starts getting mood swings, what generally happens is that Mike will be an abrasive, patronizing and belittling dick come to remind Liz that she should just stand around and let a complete plum duff be a hateful shit to her because she's his sister and thus doesn't deserve to be treated like a human being. The end result is that Dumb-ass ends up doubling over because either Lady Haymaker or the Duchess of Waling violently interface with his midsection. In the real world, his dad would standing around drooling and being spoon-fed because coffee cups are heavy and the effect of repetitive concussions is to turn the brain into a sponge. In the real world, he'd be all bruised and coughing up blood because the end result of gut punches is to turn one's insides into sausage meat. In the real world, there isn't one law of physics for big strong men and another for weak little wifeys. Then again, Lynn isn't interested in the real results of violence. We'll see that when Liz clocks Eric over the head with a frying pan and he doesn't end up with debilitating brain damage that leaves him speaking like a stroke victim.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
The interesting thing about Wednesday's strip is that [livejournal.com profile] kefkaownsall saw something that escaped most people. While most of us were focusing on the fact that it looked as if the children had never laid eyes on one another before, she noticed that Lizzie looks out of place. It seemed to her as if Lizzie were a preschooler who'd somehow wandered into a first grade classroom.

This, I think, is a problem that dogged Liz pretty much her whole childhood. Always and ever, it was commented on that while most of her peers looked their age, she still looks as if she's a bit younger than the rest of the group. I've told you about the innate conservatism that has John and Elly prefer her to dress to not impress because they think that there's safety in drab clothing. I've told you about how Elly mentally subtracts a couple of years from her age because she adds decades to her own. What I haven't told you is that the reason Elly justifies that in her mind is that Liz has always been a little bit shorter than most people her age are and always looked a little bit more baby-faced than Candace and Dawn. She thus simply looks as if she's younger than she really is. Add in a mother who hates peer pressure because she thinks letting her child decide for herself what she would wear means that said child hates her and a father who's trying his damnedest to be Canadian Content Tony Micelli and we end up with a lot of class photos that end up with the Weird Frenchy Girl getting screamed at because she correctly identifies Liz as looking as if she doesn't actually belong with the big kids.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
To get back to where I was the other day, it seems that the Pattersons aren't the only people who have a sort of hand-over effect now that the Middle Years are upon us. Phil also gets to transition from one state to the next. Before this arc, he was sort of a foil for Elly in that he called into question her need to get married before she had the least idea who she actually was. The need to fix his life seems, at least to me, to be a foreshadowing of how she'd later try to steer the children to careers she wanted herself to have in order to prove to herself that she hadn't totally screwed her life up by marrying the first man who'd dated her more than twice.

He's still sort of a foil for her in that he's really starting to resent how she's hijacking decisions he and Georgia should be allowed to make on their own. My guess is that if someone with a ponytail had not reassured Georgia that Phil's concerns were all just noise because he never knew what was good for him, Phil wouldn't have made that noise about going down in flames and making a huge mistake. Every decision he made until he left town was colored by his fear that somehow, Elly would take over because, despite what their parents might think, she thinks that she gets to boss him around forever because she won't let go of the past and she won't blame her mother for the way things rolled out.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As I said the other day, what we're going to be seeing the week after the next is the transition from the old order to the new. As Lynn said somewhere, the whole stupid accident served as a sort of wake-up call to Elly that there was still a world that wasn't chasing after children or throwing coffee cups at John because she's got no sense of humor and is still somewhat of a kid herself. What we're going to see in the next two months is something of a hand-over from the old order to the new.

The first narrative baton-passing we're going to see is the end of the business with Leah slowly developing into Lizzie's years of struggling at school because she can't actually see well and is lost, angered, depressed and confused because she can't cute her way to success like she can at home. We see a little girl who was taught to trade on her looks convincing herself she's ugly and unlovable because she can't do that any longer. She, on the other hand, does not see herself as expecting to be given a free pass because she looks nice; since she doesn't want to admit that she's the problem, she tells herself that her teachers are finks because they expect actual effort from her and don't care if she's cute or not.

The second one takes longer and is less damaging to the person at the center of the shitstorm. This is because when Elly's plan to become a civic activist gets hijacked by Radcliffe, she's got enough forward momentum going to be a sort of spear carrier for community groups doing some minor good. Instead of being the saviour of the arts, the committees she joined get a reliable workhorse, only too ready to go the extra mile because she can't not do things. Her reluctance to relax and enjoy her life because she thinks that's sinful is the engine that drives any number of minor civic improvements.

John and Mike, on the other hand, seem to hit the ground running because they have no business to wrap up before they can transition from comic stereotypes to the flawed but sympathetic people we see. John is still the same man who seems to have assumed adult responsibilities too soon in life and Mike is still the same deluded clod who thinks that he's cooler, smarter and more respected than he actually ever is.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
Now that we're pretty much at the home stretch of the Boobs In The Woods arc, let's remind ourselves that Lynn thinks of John's returning home as heralding in the transition from the Early to Middle Years of the strip. The problem is that we're still dealing with stuff that happened in the Early Years and will for a while yet.

While I have mentioned that we have yet to have Elly's ultimately misguided campaign to save the Old Town Hall sputter to its "Oh woe is me! My voice will NEVER be heard!" conclusion, it behooves me to remind you that we have yet to see the back end of Elly's career as a poet. What seems to happen is she rage-quits in sheer frustration because a bored and stupid Mike scribbled all over the magazine it appeared in because his hands had nothing useful to occupy them.

Also, we're still in the middle of the whole "Let's get Ted married off so that Connie can return home in triumph" thing that Lynn is using so as to scratch her inane itch to be writing a soap opera. Connie is still in Thunder Bay, Lawrence is still being a spoiled brat who hates his mother's happiness because he selfishly refuses to instantly adapt to whatever people around him do like he's some kind of damned machine, Mike is still acting like some kind of freak pining away for things to be normal and Ted is still living in a fool's paradise because he won't grow up.

What this means is that while most of the strip is in the Middle Years, the Early Years have yet to fully end. We'll see the same damned thing in the Later Years when stupid decisions the Pattersons made before the collective mental failure that resulted in April's almost drowning haunt them for years afterwards.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we all know, the current arc marks the boundary between the Early and Middle Years of the strip. Lynn's take on events is that it was after this point that the Pattersons' view of the world expanded beyond the confines of domestic life and grew to encompass a far wider world. The problem is that this is only true for three of the characters. As we're going to see, Mike expands from "selfish foil to Elly" to "confused boy who gets into trouble because he thinks that he's cooler than he actually is" while Lizzie turns from "timid child clinging to Mommy" to "born follower who doesn't quite understand social norms." John gets into the evolution party too when he transforms from "insensitive oaf who doesn't understand Elly's pain" into "well-meaning but somewhat inept paterfamilias."

The problem is that the only person who doesn't undergo much growth is the one that's doing the housework. It seems to me that despite her having the more public role of librarian and joiner of committees, Elly remains somewhat constant throughout the strip. She has the same narrow focus on minor things that don't affect anything, the same hair-trigger temper, the same belief that family life is a trap and the same general uselessness as an advisor and (most importantly) the same lack of any sort of self-awareness she had in the Early Days. The sequence that highlights this is the one in which she whines to Connie about why Liz went to a stranger with her problems when she was there all along. As I've said before, Elly thinks that she's a better listener than she actually is and doesn't remember the fact that whenever Liz did come to her with a problem, Mommy shooed her away and told her to stop bugging her about meaningless nonsense about irrelevant children. She might think that she's better than losing her temper about whiskers in the sink but, as we'll see, she really isn't.

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