dreadedcandiru2 (dreadedcandiru2) wrote in binky_betsy,

Catharsis with the Kelpfroths.

As long as we're re-examining old irritants, I'd like to talk about two more walking plot devices who irritate me: Mel and Winnie Kelpfroth. Their purpose is carefully disguised but obvious when you know what to look for. When they were first introduced, they were promoted as being "The Neighbors From Hell" who stood around complaining about every little thing the Pattersons Redux did. Sadly for Lynn, she dropped the ball on that one too. Let's list her failures in order of height and popularity:

  • First off, she simply decided sight unseen that their child-free lifestyle was shorthand for their being selfish without really thinking too hard about why they didn't have children. I can think of a lot of reasons why they didn't have kids that don't end in the sentence "because they're selfish hedonists."
  • Second, her standing around demonizing Winnie as a narcissistic malingerer for daring to ask for sympathy and quiet reveals a certain heartlessness. It seems to me that it would have cost the Pattersons nothing to accommoate her but then I'm not an idiotic narcissist with a persecution complex.
  • Third, their distaste for living downstairs from two gutless idiots who don't want to control their children but do want to act like trailer trash tends to blunt her attempt to make monsters out of them. Mike can harrupmh abot Mel being objectionable all day long but at the end of that day, Mel at least tried to be open about things.
  • This leads me to my next point; the Pattersons made no attempt to resolve the issue for fear of abandoning their martyrdom; the closest they came was that awful article Mike wrote. Mel might be a jerk but at least you wouldn't catch him writing a poison-pen essay about the smart-mouthed young punk upstairs.
  • Even though he was guilty of nothing more that appreciating a Havana inside, Lovey Saltzmann treated Mel like a leper for speaking his mind instead of dummying up about appalling conditions like a good little Smurf; she treated Asshole Mike who did nothing that didn't bring down property values as if he were the Messiah because he didn't complain.
  • This, of course, highlights the problem that the author of Sunday Comics Debt noticed: namely, Mel and Winnie were regarded as The Other because they disagreed with the Pattersons. No attempt to find common ground with them was ever made or contemplated.
  • Finally, Mel's smoking was used as a harbinger of the Housening to come and its stupid moral: simply put, Mike and Deanna were burned out of house and home to prove that he could have no identity separate from Elly nor live a life that would not allow her live through him.

Think about that for a second. Then think about how Lynn must see it; she'd probably insist that Mike tried living on his own without Elly to guide him and look what happened. She'd say the same thing about Portrait: "Mike tried to live his own life but the mean man wanted him to fire all those people so he had to quit." To her, it's not a cowardly default on his responsibilities to others as such as it's his finally repaying her for feeding, clothing and housing him all those years ago. Mel's talking about the glories of a good smoke is not the only foreshadowing; I remember the strip that had Elly whine that her kids would only appreciate her in their forties. I have a mental image of them standing over her grave whining about how selfish they were to steal her life from her.

After you do that, think about what would have happened in the real world to both Lovey and the Pattersons Redux; she would have had to answer some pointed questions to both the rental control board and a lower court judge while Mike would have not only been evicted, he'd have had to pay Mel's legal fees.

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