Was That Sex Scene On The Mick Groundbreaking Or Insulting?

Photo: Patrick McElhenney/FOX.
The Mick has always been uncouth. This is, after all, a show where a tween accidentally shoots his friend with a crossbow, and that friend gets unceremoniously dumped outside the emergency room with little to no consequences. Kaitlin Olson’s titular character, Mickey Molng, is blunt to the point of consistently perceived rudeness, although in her mind, she’s the hero of her own story who’s doing everything right. On Tuesday night’s episode — a vehicle that served mainly to get the family back in a mansion that isn’t a pile of burnt rubble — Mickey finds herself in perhaps her biggest moral and ethical quandary to date when she’s propositioned by a 100-year-old woman. A completely naked 100-year-old woman named Rita (played by Judith Roberts).
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The family had gathered at Rita’s mansion to celebrate her 100th birthday, and, as per usual, Mickey found a way to overstay their welcome — even though they weren't welcome in the first place. Their grandmother Tippy (Concetta Tomei) wants to excise their branch of the family tree like rot. Rita is extremely excited to see Mickey, though, so the group makes it inside the party. She thinks Mickey is a long-lost friend named Helen, and that Chip (Thomas Barbusca) is Helen’s son Dippy, who has brain damage. Despite showing signs of dementia, Rita has flashes of lucidity, during which she remembers her time with Helen fondly. The two went through some major life events together, like a racist celebration at the end of World War II. Mickey goes along with it because hey, free use of a mansion, and a kind older woman getting her massages and taking her shopping.
What Mickey doesn’t realize is just how close Rita and Helen were. The two were, per Rita, lovers. That’s why she wakes Mickey up in the middle of the night, astride her completely naked. Mickey is shocked and tries to shove the older woman off of her. She’s not willing to hook up with Rita, even if it means that the family will continue to stay in her mansion and enjoy the spoils of her riches.
While it was revolutionary to see a nude centenarian on network television, Mickey’s revulsion was somewhat hard to read. Was she balking at hooking up with a quasi-relative (Rita, played by Judith Roberts, is referred to as the Pemberton kids’ great-grandmother; Mickey is their aunt), or at the idea of an older person whose body she finds repulsive? The scene was groundbreaking in that an older woman was being seen as a sexual being with wants and desires, which is consistent with research on the sexual lives of geriatric members of the population. Then again, several characters mention during the episode that she suffers from dementia, so Rita might not be in her completely right mind, nor controlling her actions.
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The Mick isn’t the first show to explore this topic, although it’s one of the first on American network television to go so far as to show an older woman’s naked back and the tops of her breasts. Parks and Recreation had an entire plotline about providing sex education to Pawnee’s senior citizens. Misfits, the British show about a group of juvenile delinquents who acquire superpowers during a freak lightning storm, showed graphic sex between one of the titular misfits and an older woman who gained the power to transform back into her younger self during the storm. In both cases, the sexual lives of the elderly are treated as something of a joke, with Nathan (Robert Sheehan) in Misfits being disgusted when he realizes he had sex with a septuagenarian. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is a bit more understanding of the senior citizens of Pawnee’s sexual activity. After all, don’t most people hope to continue experiencing desire well into their later years? Why do we shun the topic on television?
At the end of the episode, Mickey decides to overcome her qualms about hooking up with Rita when she sees the family’s time in her mansion is at stake. The two are discovered furiously making out by the rest of the family, who act disgusted by the sight. Once again, it’s not clear if it’s because Mickey is quasi-related to Rita, or if it’s because it involves thinking about a 100-year-old woman as a sexual being. Lucky for Rita, she got to enjoy one last fling before she gets blown up by lighting a cigarette around an oxygen tank. Once again, The Mick’s true colors were showing: This is a show that isn’t afraid to cross lines of propriety and make you question the gray areas of life. Whether the boundaries it crosses are revolutionary or insulting is up to the viewer to decide.
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