After listening to the episode Good Business, you may be inclined to side with the people complaining that they’re not being treated fairly. In that story Jack and Oscar demand higher wages for mowing lawns. Instead of splitting their earnings 50-50 with Robyn, in the end they get to keep all of their wages, even more than they asked for. Robyn, the manager, decides not to get paid anything. It was so convincing in its call for fairness and equality that some listeners misinterpreted it as having a pro-communist message. Well, the episode That’s Not Fair gives the other side of the story, completely countering the pro-fairness message of Good Business. Suddenly the kids complaining about unfair treatment aren’t actually in the right. Their little pity party is crashed by Mr. Whittaker who gives them a dose of reality. This is a great idea for a show which I’m sure parents would approve of. It had the potential for being slightly better than Good Business, but unfortunately it decides to split off into three different subplots which aren’t developed very far. If the episode had stuck with the Connie storyline it probably would have received a higher rating.
Connie tells her story first. We already know she loves to talk on the phone a little too much, so giving her a landline of her own seems like a recipe for disaster. A phone in her room is definitely a gift that goes above and beyond what a parent is supposed to provide. And of course, Connie doesn’t use it responsibly. Instead of getting ready for school she’s talking on the phone. This fits perfectly with her character and helps to foreshadow the episode’s outcome. The fact that Connie’s mom provides for her beyond what is fair doesn’t come out of nowhere. We also find out that Connie has a messy room, which isn’t too surprising either. She’s not exactly the organized type. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t appreciate the list of chores her mom organizes for her. She complains about all the things she has to do around the house, like cleaning up dishes. You would think Connie would be used to doing the dishes, since that’s literally part of her job at Whit’s End. And if she’s complaining about it at home, then why not complain about work or school? She could have asked for a raise or something, mirroring the demands made in Good Business. That would have taken this show into an interesting direction. But no, Connie stays within the realm of experience which all kids can relate to and keeps her complaints directed towards her mom. Then in part two of her story, thanks to Whit’s creative solution, Connie sees firsthand just how much her mom freely gives to her, much more than she deserves. For being a relatively short plotline, having to share the episode with two other subplots, this storyline had a pretty good conclusion which seemed logical and convincing.
Then there’s Oscar’s story, the least interesting one of them all, which is probably why it was stuffed in the middle. He bothers his older brother, Tony, to let him go camping with him. Tony says no. Oscar threatens to go to his parents to force Tony to take him camping. But his mom says no. Now, as much as a story about a kid wanting to be older and have more privileges might normally be interesting, the problem here is that this whole thing comes out of nowhere. Guess what? Oscar has a significantly older brother who gets to do stuff Oscar isn’t allowed to do. And supposedly this happens all the time. This episode apparently takes place in an alternate universe which has no impact on the rest of the show. In the second part of Oscar’s story, the AIO team’s solution is to suddenly give Oscar a younger brother named Henry. That’s right. Not only did Oscar randomly get an older brother who never again appears in any other episode, but now he has two brothers. And Henry is such as throwaway character that he doesn’t even get any lines. This is a very underdeveloped and disappointing storyline.
And, finally, let’s talk about Donna’s story, which seems to be a remake of the second-rate episodes Back to School and It Sure Seems Like It to Me, in which a girl named Leslie complains about her horrible teacher mistreating her and giving her too much homework. Interestingly, Leslie is played by the same voice actor as Donna Barclay. But while Leslie’s story manages to be unbelievable and uninspired, Donna’s story is actually realistic and even interesting. This is Jessie Morales’ first episode and we immediately get insight into her character as we hear her trying to distract Donna by telling her that a boy with “big gorgeous brown eyes” is looking at her. And Donna’s character is also developed. At first she tries to ignore Jessie and read the chapter but soon she doesn’t think talking to this boy when she should be reading is such a bad idea. Mr. Zachary catches her and tells her to do a report on the Bill of Rights, which is kind of funny because fairness is all about standing up for your rights. Maybe if Donna had actually read the Bill of Rights she might have been able to explain herself a little better to her teacher. In the conclusion to Donna’s story, it becomes clear that Donna isn’t as conscientious of a student as she’d have us believe, which was hinted at in her earlier scene. The only problem with this particular storyline is the choice to use Mr. Zachary as the teacher. He’s someone I can’t take seriously. He is pretty funny in the episode Connie Goes to Camp, but he doesn’t come across as a competent instructor. A more serious character playing the role of the teacher would have fit better in this case.
In the end, the storylines with Oscar and Donna don’t really work and this episode should have instead tried to develop the Connie storyline further. This would have been a great opportunity to bring her into conflict with Eugene, and it would arrive just in time, since Eugene Meltsner has suddenly disappeared from Odyssey. And you thought his first hiatus was during Novacom! Actually, it’s right now, because Eugene doesn’t appear in a single episode in Album 6: Mission: Accomplished. Whit does a great job and makes the important point that God doesn’t treat us fairly; he gives us the gift of grace even though we don’t deserve it. But Mr. Whittaker’s solid advice isn’t enough to redeem this episode’s underdeveloped plotlines. This episode gets 3 out of 5 stars.