"Tough Love"

A review by Jenni:
Couldn't decide what to watch so I just started with the oldest one I hadn't reviewed yet.  Sorry if this one seems sloppier than usual.  I've been having to shutdown the computer off and on all day due to storms. 

What I love about this episode:
Monica is introduced to coffee!  I'm sure Tess came to regret that.  It made me think back on my first coffee (at least the first I recall): a latte with a shot of raspberry at Borders.

I like Monica's twinkly, wicked lil bit of humor when she catches the ladder and then asks Elizabeth if she'd still like her to leave.  Cute.

Not that I've had an abundance of experience (thankfully) but the depiction of alcoholism seems very realistic to me.  The part where Elizabeth is talking about lovers in front of Beth is so cringe-inducing but I know that drinking can completely destroy the ability to judge appropriateness.  I also thought it was good that Elizabeth brings up that her alcoholism originated with her job.  I don't think that was meant to excuse her.  But I do think certain jobs make a person more prone to it and that's important to consider.  Finally, by having Sidney also be an alcoholic, the show demonstrates that alcoholism often does run in families.

I love that Monica prays and then the birthday cake appears.  It's neat to think that nothing is too small to God.

I thought the exchange Tess and Monica had when Monica is told that she wasn't informed of Elizabeth's alcoholism so she could befriend her as a woman was great.  Because I know how preconceived notions can completely alter interaction between two people.  Plus, it drives home the point that Monica later tells Elizabeth: she is lovable as herself, not as an alcoholic or reporter or any other label but as her true self.

The sequence that begins with Elizabeth praying desperately and tearfully and then goes to Tess singing "Amazing Grace" is very, very powerful.  Which brings me to: the repeated use of "Amazing Grace" (with the music box, Tess singing, instrumental at the AA meeting, and a choral version at the end) was a real strong point in the episode for me.

I like that TBAA often stressed that people needed to take responsibility for their actions.  It wasn't just "Eh, well, God loves you, anyway."  It's shown here when Elizabeth returns to the house and begins to cry.  Monica doesn't immediately comfort her.  Once Elizabeth falls to her knees and asks if Monica is there as punishment (thus signifying she finally realizes her behavior is truly damaging and she regrets it), then Monica tells her of God's immense love and assures her.

The reveal of Sidney at the AA meeting still gets me.  As does "I'm so glad you were born." 

What I didn't love about this episode:
I'm not sure I follow Tess' metaphor about a "plain old cup of joe" being superior to the other coffee drinks.  I dress up my coffee plenty but I don't think that says much about me in day-to-day life.  Normally I like metaphors but that one just didn't work for me.  Not a big deal, though.

I'm undecided about the realism of the press coverage of Elizabeth's drunk speech at that event.  Would a reporter really be that vague and all but cover-up her spectacle?  I dunno.  Maybe.  I guess if she is a town hero they might.  I don't see it happening with my local paper, though! 

Lingering questions:
When is it okay to give kids iced tea?  According to Elizabeth it must be past 7.  Just curious!

Is "you don't understand oatmeal!" an actual expression or just something Elizabeth came up with?  I'd never heard it before.

 Where is Monica when she hears Beth calling for help?  It's very green and I'm not sure where it was supposed to be.  Heaven?  Probly not cause Heaven was never shown.

Parts that made me feel swoony:
None...  But as I have nothing else to put here, I'll put my lil anti-shipperism statement here since I so love defending Andrew against it.

So... a drunken Elizabeth tells Sidney she should get a lover because it might do her some good.  Monica responds that "a brisk walk in the morning always does me a lot of good."  Does that sound like a romantically inclined person, let alone one capable of mad love as Monica is in shipper fics???  NO!!! 

Random thoughts:
I wonder if, when I first saw this and was quite young, I was shocked to see "Mrs. Huxtable" drunk!  ;-)  Stellar acting!

I feel like a dolt.  I've watched this countless times and it just now hit me that Beth is likely named for Elizabeth. 

I can't imagine having to do an intervention and giving someone I dearly loved an ultimatum that might forever separate me from them.  Terrible, terrible thing to have to go through.

A Word from Travis:
Phylicia Rashad is outstanding as Elizabeth and the actors who played her daughter and granddaughter also shine very well in their roles. What I also enjoy about the episode is, the angels do not overshadow the episode so their inclusion doesn’t seem intrusive. A good story is able to play out with dynamite guest star actors while the regular actors are also able to shine, without taking away from the story.

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(The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)