Our Emma Anquillare breaks down the previous night's episodes of A&E's Southie Rules.
When Boston residents heard that A&E was going to make a reality TV show about a salt-of-the-earth Southie family combating the gentrification of their neighborhood, they already knew a whole new kind of storm was brewing down by the waterfront. Just like during Hurricane Sandy, we stocked up, shut down the T, braced ourselves for the worst, and got?something not at all as terrible as it could have been.
Instead of aggressively declaring war against the affluent newcomers, or mocking some of the less envious "traditions" of the neighborhood (think 16 and Pregnant), we have something we haven't really seen since the 1990s: an endearing, light-hearted, family sitcom. Maybe the "PG" rating should have been our first clue.
So what happens in Full House: Southie Edition? First, everyone must pay a bill. But wait! Southie Pretty Boy Jonathan and his Baby Brother Matt can't afford their share. Obviously, Jon tries to sell his investment antique dolls (?dolls?), and Matt sets about cooking and selling Camille's famous meatballs. (He has no idea what a shallot is because the neighborhood hasn't yet been enlightened by Whole Foods, but that's a whole other episode.)
When selling meatballs fails due to a defunct delivery (and not because when someone calls you to sell meatballs, you don't take them completely seriously), Matt and his girlfriend Jenn are chided for not learning responsibility. It's cute?until you remember that this couple has a child of their own. When Jon's dolls also fail him, he desperately turns to Devin (the Kimmy Gibbler of the household) for advice. At the end of the day, all is saved by a bachelorette party, which orders the remaining meatballs, along with Pretty Boy's meatballs, sexy construction worker outfit included.
But, wait, where are the Yuppies? What about the war being waged between the Nantucket Reds and the Rajon Rondo Green?
In the second episode, which A&E ran right after the first, we finally do see the raw Townie-vs-Trendy Turf Wars we've been craving? kind of.
We start with the Patriarch sunning himself balls-out naked (again with the nudity—is this why they pushed the timeslot later?) and learn through a staged, endearing flashback that he once was a motorcycling badass, but since retirement has grown soft and is no longer his hardened self. (Yes, that's what his lady Camille said, too. Actually they're divorced, but they still share a house, family, and bed just like the Bible prescribes.)
To cheer him up, hams are traded (obviously!) for a day on a fishing boat. Catastrophe ensues when the boat won't start while out at sea, but—surprise, surprise—Devin is actually the Good Will Hunting of Engine Mechanics and gets them safely to shore.
Wait, that had nothing to do with turf wars. Sorry, here we go.
Meanwhile, Leah's husband meets a yuppie mom, and decides to start a mommy group to enable the magical networking that will get their daughter into the finest of kindergartens, and eventually, Hahvahd. (How a family that pays their cable bill by selling meatballs is going to fund a private K-12 education though, remains a mystery.)
The archetypically uptight moms ("Never have I ever...spilled pinot noir on a white blouse!") are off-put by Leah's down-to-the-salty-earth-ness (which involves a youth of threesomes in station wagons and a sex tape, again, just like the Bible says) but all is smoothed over with some boozy bonding.
Have the Yuppies been welcomed already? By attempting to give their daughter a prestigious education, have Leah and her husband accepted the inevitable fate of their neighborhood? Ten years from now, will we watch Gossip Girl: Boston Edition as Abby navigates her blue-collar upbringing amongst the Brahmin Elite? I suppose we'll have to wait till next week to find out.