This week’s episodes mark the end of the 5-week journey that is my review of Amazon’s Red Oaks, and also the end of season 1. They are the emotional climax and conclusion of the entire first season. Get ready for the feels.
In “The Bar Mitzvah”, Karen finds out about David’s trip to the city with Skye. Wheeler loses a package, the Meyers’ talk about their relationship, and David and Barry have their own confrontation.
So I’ve been pretty pro Karen/David since the show began, despite it being a progressively dying ship. Even though I have been very much aware that the show was pushing David/Skye, I still had hope. So when Karen got the news about David and Skye from the stereotypical Jersey babe, I knew it was over. Was it too much to ask for David and Karen to work out? Apparently so.
In the meantime, Wheeler gets a cassette player full of drugs from his supplier, and you just know how that story is going to play out. I appreciated this subplot because I thought it would have come a lot earlier. In episode four, “MDMA”, Wheeler is getting directions from his supplier about what to do when it’s time to resupply, when Misty just happens to be walking by. Wheeler then proceeds to zone out entirely when he’s supposed to be listening to some pretty pertinent information. We never go back to that moment, but I guess we were supposed to assume that the information was repeated because Wheeler ends up being able to buy a new car with money made from selling drugs to rich people. Cool.
In other news, the reveal of what happens to that cassette player is hilarious.
The Meyers make a rare appearance at the country club to attend the Bar Mitzvah, and check out David’s job. I like the Meyers as parents, because they’re so interested in what their son is doing, and whether or not he’s happy doing it. Mr. Meyers wants David to be an accountant, but it’s really because he wants David to have a good job that will support him and his family. That’s respectable.
So, in the very first episode, Mr. Meyers admits to David that he and his wife do not love each other. They even go to counseling in episode four, and again in episode seven. However, it’s in this episode that we really see them talking about their relationship. It is not a happy moment, but I think it was very realistic and relatable. I’ve never been divorced, but I imagine that even the most amicable of them are that depressing on the outset.
Midway through the episode, David ends up meeting Skye’s not-boyfriend, and it puts him in a mood that rolls over into a confrontation with Barry. In the midst of this confrontation, Karen’s photo shoot pictures are revealed. So I just wanted to stop and ask: why the hell is that something that Barry would take to a Bar Mitzvah? Those are not kid friendly pictures. I spent the entire scene wondering if someone else was going to pick them up and look at them. It was just asking for exposure, and I am surprise that the show didn’t jump on it.
The episode ends with a big confrontation between Karen and David, and Karen reads David’s whole life. When I say Karen reads David’s whole life, she literally verbalizes everything that’s wrong with David. I loved it. For as much as they haven’t been the best to each other this entire season, Karen had the decency to not actively pursue someone else. She’s actually tried to be a good girlfriend to David, only to receive mediocrity in return. Karen deserves better.
One minor point that I loved about this episode was Nash’s boat buying. I thought the boat would have been excessive, but I feel like Nash deserves to indulge.
In “Labor Day”, David goes to work for his dad, and then goes back to training Getty. Wheeler tells Karen the truth, and the Gettys get a big surprise.
So in the last episode, David had gotten into a fight that cost him his job, and Wheeler lost about ten thousand dollars worth of cocaine. Both are at a particularly low point at the beginning of episode ten. However, Wheeler convinces David to go beg for his job back, and they both make the best of a bad situation.
Cue tennis montage with 80s music.
One of the most consistent relationships on Red Oaks has been David and Wheeler. They don’t have a ton of scenes together, nor do they do a lot of friend things together, but they seem to be each other’s sounding board at times. I like that they’re so different, and yet get along so well. I would like to see more things being done with this friendship should the show return for a second season.
One thing that I loved, from this episode and the last, was that Wheeler told Misty the truth of his situation. They were on the verge of becoming something more, and he decided to be straight with her. I like that Wheeler admitted that he sold drugs so that Misty would like him, and Misty was like, you could have done a million other things. I don’t know if it would have mattered, but I liked that Wheeler was never cocky about it, so Misty never came off as the type who wouldn’t at least think about dating him without the car and money. I like that there’s a chance for them.
I hate that I could recognize that Wheeler fit the “nice guy” trope, and I still shipped it.
It would have been nice for David and Karen to have worked out, but, as I write this review, I have my TV paused on the first moment that David looks at Karen in this episode, and I know it’s too much to ask. Red Oaks was not setup for David to choose Karen. The fact that Karen even had to imply that David should choose her shows me that they never meant for her to win.
In the ten episodes of this season, Red Oaks has only cared to tell you how much David wants Skye, and how he and Skye should be together. I admit that there’s a lot of Karen and Barry, but nothing to suggest that Barry is honestly a better option. Barry has been a creeper from day one, and he looks like even more of a creeper 90 days later. How am I supposed to believe that Karen came out okay in this deal?
Life is unfair, and I will give Red Oaks that they never try to pretend that it wasn’t.
I appreciated that the Getty vs. Feinberg tennis match was set to Little River Band’s “Playing to Win”. I was beyond shocked with the reveal about Getty. That came out of nowhere. You could say that the setup for it was there, but you never get the sense that Getty could really get into trouble for it. So for Getty to be arrested during the tennis match against his rival, in front of the entire country club, had to be embarrassing. My pride hurt for him.
Even though I hate David and Skye, I am obligated to talk about them. This episode was probably the most movement in their “relationship”. David confronted Skye about her not-boyfriend, Skye admitted to her feelings for David, and now they’re . . . something. This episode kind of leaves their fate ambiguous, especially considering that Skye’s moving to France. Skye asks David to come find her in Paris, and I’m like, with what money? Even with the bonus from Getty, David’s parents are divorcing and they’re talking about having him switch to a cheaper college. He can’t feasibly take trips to Paris.
Also, unless David actually works at Red Oaks during the fall and spring, the show can’t be called Red Oaks, and it would be ridiculous for the two to not see each other for a year.
Red Oaks ends (technically) the way it began: with David and Sam Meyers playing a game of tennis. While Mr. Meyers does not have another heart attack, we are again made privy to the state of his marriage. It’s all still very sad, especially since David still has no idea how to deal with this information.
Red Oaks has been an interesting moment in my streaming life. I will gladly admit that it is not something that I would have went out of my way to bother with, but it definitely had its moments. I appreciated the way it connected back to itself. I don’t know if notes were made about it, or if the producers went into the project with the intent to be particular about continuity, but I appreciated that it was not a “scenario of the week” type of situation.
The minor characters were the best things about the show, besides the music. One thing Red Oaks failed at was not telling us more about Nash. It didn’t help that we continuously hear about his wife, but never see her. Richard Kind’s Sam Meyers was endearing, and I think that a lot of people could identify with Jennifer Grey’s Judy Meyers. The fact that we never quite figure out Wheeler’s family situation is also a failing, if only because we don’t yet know if the show will be renewed to tell us about it.
Overall, I thought that Red Oaks was a solid show, but it wasn’t the type of show you would pay an Amazon Prime subscription to watch. There’s a ton of other shows like it, and it doesn’t help that David could have just as well been eighteen instead of twenty with the same results. Still, Red Oaks delivered on its promise to be a comedy, and it will definitely be relatable to anyone that cares to watch it. I, for one, am surprisingly happy that I did.
Let me know if you like it too, in the comments below.
Red Oaks season 1 is now available on Amazon Instant Video.
Image courtesy of Amazon.