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The Kids Are Alright - Mailbox - Review - Some Penmanship Prize

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Relying on the strength of its ensemble, The Kids Are Alright delivered a fantastic episode as the show hits the halfway point. No need to return this one to sender. Eddie and Wendi's breakup ripples through the entire Cleary family, and no one escapes its shadow.

The split results from Wendi's discovery that Eddie is more excited over his summer sanitation job than taking the SATs with her. As Eddie basically glows while he talks about saving the city from trash ("Garbage Man or Trash Man. Which do you prefer?), Wendi feels that the gap between their ambitions is insurmountable. It's a very real-world problem. Her departure sends a sobbing Eddie barreling into his father's arms. Of course, as they say, when the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.

A bored Joey turns out to be the perfect person to open that window. Christopher Paul Richards ignites this character with such charismatic mischief one half expects him to turn and break the fourth wall with a smirk or wink. Joey observes Frank's crush on Wendi and exploits it. He encourages Frank to take advantage of the breakup to woo her. Frank is dazzled. And in an episode full to the brim with brilliant moments, few are presented with such perfect timing as Joey's "100%" when Frank wonders “If you were interested in me, you would date Eddie?”
Frank writes a letter, rushes to mail it, and mayhem of the best kind follows.
This predicament interrupts the younger boys' "do-it-yourself-vacation," and their intentions to watch Frank try to retrieve the letter result in Pat getting himself locked in the mailbox. All this wonder, and the episode still makes time for a family dinner (sans Pat but with moon pies), Mike struggling to comfort Eddie, William offering Mike heartfelt guidance over backyard campfire coffee and biscuits, and Lawrence gifting Frank some brotherly admonition.
“I feel stupid now.”
“That’s your conscience.”
The episode ties up the misadventures perfectly. The brothers team up to free Pat. Mike joins Eddie on his garbage truck route to listen to him (without having to listen to him). And, in a very sweet moment that allows Sawyer Barth to show Frank's softer side, Wendi catches Frank with her mail but he uses the opportunity to encourage her to reunite with Eddie. Not going to lie. Got a genuine lump in my throat when Frank said Eddie was already working on being the best he could be. 
Every member of the cast got to shine in "Mailbox," a successful and entertaining balancing act. With more and more episodes like this, the show has really started to hit its stride. 

Nostalgia Note:
Do you have an "It's in the adult section" memory? I was forbidden to venture there by my parents. My library kept all of Louisa May Alcott's books there, and I would always ask a librarian to get me "Little Women." Talk about dancing with the devil. 

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