Dr. Ken, Season 1, Episode 16: “Meeting Molly’s Boyfriend”
Original airdate February 26, 2016.
Symptoms: When Molly introduces her new boyfriend to Ken and Allison, Allison is confronted with a confidentiality issue: the new boyfriend is the son of one of her patients. This is especially stressful because the patient unknowingly reveals to her that the boyfriend is cheating on Molly. In the Welltopia office, Pat tries to cozy up to Damona, Julie, and Clark in the hopes of receiving positive evaluations from them.
Diagnosis: There’s a lot to like here: We get a scene with Allison in her office; we learn a little more about Dave (he’s left-handed); this week it’s good Molly instead of bad Molly; Ken and Allison demonstrate reasonably liberal attitudes about Molly’s dating life; there’s funny, same-level conversation between Ken and Pat; and Pat comes across as socially clueless rather than just bizarre and cartoonish. I’m going to ignore the lucha libre tag (I’m generally of the opinion that anything goes in the sitcom tag), applaud the continued believability of the regular presence of alcohol in the Park household, and enjoy the family dynamics in dealing with a new boyfriend, which stay mostly away from over-protective caricature and parental shorthand (which I’ve seen a bit too much of lately). The director and actors need to be scolded for complete ignorance in how the game of Risk is played, but it’s a quick transgression in what is otherwise a fun episode.
Prognosis: I’ve heard a lot of speculation about what Molly’s boyfriends would be like, if we ever got introduced to them, and I honestly have no opinion about this. Does it mean something that her boyfriend appears to be at least part Asian, and not full-on Caucasian? Would it have meant something if he’d been some other ethnicity? There’s a temptation, because of the cultural significance of Dr. Ken‘s existence, to overthink details like this. Details do matter a lot, and each is a decision toward creating the art of a television program. Still, can this boy just be a guy Molly likes, without outside-the-fourth-wall context? I say yes, although I’m open to other opinions.
Rx: This is a good episode for character development. Both plots serve characterization, with reasonable advancement based on character and not on gags. There’s some good comedy here among some of the usual just-for-laughs stuff, and I feel myself growing fonder of the program and its regulars. Even Pat.
Check out this week’s Post Show and Tell, in which Joz Wang interviews Suzy Nakamura and Albert Tsai about “Meeting Molly’s Boyfriend, right on the set of Dr. Ken.