The Orville 'About A Girl' [Season 1 Episode 3] Review

***Spoilers Ahead***

About A Girl

J Lee, Halston Stage, Seth MacFarlane (left to right). Jordin Althaus/FOX

Political undertones in entertainment are a polarizing subject in today's divided landscape. It seems that there isn't any middle ground regarding this topic. Either one enjoys seeing social issues discussed on-screen or they would rather watch something detached from current events. Like Sunday's episode, The Orville pulls off a risky move despite being very early in its run. This time, instead of shifting character dynamics, the series dives head-first into a dramatic and controversial debate about changing the gender of Bortus's child. When the audience learned that Bortus came from an all-male species in the pilot, it seemed like a throwaway gag meant to act as a catalyst for MacFarlane's bathroom-oriented humor. But, the writers were saving that detail for something significantly more meaningful. While I won't say that 'About A Girl' was as entertaining as the past two episodes, it was still very captivating and engaging in a drastically different way.

The episode starts off with last week's semi-cliffhanger and centers on Bortus and his husband struggling with the fact that their child is a female in their all-male species. At first, Bortus is set on converting his kid into a boy. But, after watching an iconic Earth movie, he changes gears and wants his child to stay the way he is. For a show that was advertised and billed as "Family Guy in space", it's really surprising to see something so touchy being handled in a serious manner. The stakes are raised even higher when the matter is put in a Moclan court of law and ends in a bitter fashion. Despite their anti-female nature, I was expecting the Moclans to eventually cave in and let Bortus's child stay a girl. Instead, the episode goes down a more somber route with his child being forced to go through the procedure and the crew's hard work going to waste. I'll admit, the ending left a bad taste in my mouth, but it was a very admirable way to handle the matter. This cements the fact that the show won't settle for the predictable and satisfying ending and instead will close with something more realistic and heart-wrenching at times. So, while I wasn't a fan of the outcome, it was fresh and well-done.

While the episode was rather solid, some aspects of 'About A Girl' were lacking. First off, the installment almost entirely abandons comedy and takes a more depressing tone. Sure, in an outing like this, it makes perfect sense for the show to stick to the dramatic route. Nevertheless, I do hope that the series ventures back to the more light-hearted territory that was present in the past two episodes. Additionally, there was a lack of action and adventure in this third program. The episode progressed slowly at first and the whole debate about the gender of Bortus's child felt tedious at times. In fact, 'About A Girl' didn't really find its footing until the court case. I think the main problem with this plot is that The Orville hasn't earned the right to do an episode like this yet. It would have been better to have this as a plot after viewers learned more about Bortus, Klyden, and the Moclan species. That way, they would be a lot more invested in the characters and the situation. Outside of that, some of the cast members were pushed aside to the point where the episode could've easily done without them. I hope that the series will be able to focus on the ensemble as a whole in future episodes instead of only focusing on some and taking attention away from others.

Ultimately, 'About A Girl' isn't a poor outing, it simply takes an unfamiliar turn. It hits the emotional beats quite well, but the series should have waited a bit longer before hitting them. Unlike the episodes before it, this installment wasn't very fun to watch, but I understand why the writers wanted to do a politically-charged episode like this. The promo for the next episode depicts a return to whimsical adventure and comedy. Personally, I prefer to see more of those elements in The Orville.

Stray Thoughts

  • That cowboy scene gave me 'A Million Ways to Die in the West' flashbacks
  • Glad to see more of Yaphet. I hope he gets a bigger role soon.
  • In episode two, there were a ton of Kermit references. This time, we get Rudolph. Who's the next classic children's character to be an integral part of an episode? My money's on Winnie the Pooh.
  • It's reassuring to know that cancer will be cured in 2056. I'm surprised that Gordon didn't know who cured it. The other stuff that Kelly asked him was trivial, but this was something important. 
  • I really want more Issac. 

Grade: B-

What did you think of 'About A Girl'?


Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Catch an all-new episode next Thursday at 9/8c on FOX.

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