Q Series’ A Boy Named Flora A (花甲男孩轉大人) is a dark comedy about a multi-generation family trying to get a handle on the dying (or, non-dying?) of their beloved matriarch and descending into “Lord of the Flies” instead. It is so inappropriate to laugh at some of the things they do. And if I were to watch this drama in public, I would’ve laugh-coughed in fear of offending the public sensibility. Good thing I watched it in the privacy of my own home where I could laugh all I wanted.
Like when the adults were discussing how lavish grandma’s funeral had to be in order to demonstrate their “prominent and upstanding” status in the village, grandson Huajia (aka. Flora A) discovered their “dead” grandma wasn’t quite dead yet. The funeral director knowing that his sale had tragically fell through, given that no one died, he nonetheless tried to salvage the business by inviting the family to come to him when they die in the future. (That is a comforting thought: I can pre-plan my funeral and get an early bird discount.)
Or, when 2nd uncle’s family overslept and missed the life support removal ceremony, they had to crawl to the front door while wailing for the “dead” grandma, only to have 2nd uncle rush out to stop their filial piety act because grandma ain’t dead yet.
Equally embarrassing was when local politicians, in their overzealous patronage, not only gift the family funeral flowers before grandma’s “time”, they came in person to pay their respect, complete with incense and all. Only to be told, again, grandma ain’t dead yet. Being a bunch of slick politicians they were, they immediately turned to the other side of the room and prayed to Buddha for grandma’s long life.
Their death rituals/superstitions baffle me sometimes. So I always welcomed moments when regular old comedy appeared. Like two buddies reading manga on the bed, then one of them farts into the other person’s face.
Family reunion is stressful because this is when all your close and distant relatives come to give you their two-cents on how you should live your life. Even your loser dad will gladly stab you in the back by measuring you against your more successful and better looking cousin. And if you are 28 year-old Huajia, who had failed college entrance exam twice and college senior course 3 years in a roll, was fired from his part-time job as fastfood server for remarkable ineptitude, and had no love life to brag about, the matchup stings.
But Huajia has two things going for him: Agreeable personality and common decency. Something his cousin Huaming sorely lacks. He treats his son, born out of wedlock, like a flirtation prop or child labor depending on what the situation calls for. His fatherly advice to his son is play lotto with license plate number from the ambulance.
Even golden boy Hualiang disappoints his family. He and girlfriend is getting married. Congratulations! They have to be married right away and cannot postpone the wedding in respect for grandma because his girlfriend is pregnant. Boo!
But the biggest loser is, without a doubt, Huajia’s father. The family is wondering why grandma is not “passing on.” Perhaps she is waiting for the missing family members, like Huajia’s mom and his sister? Huajia puts mom on speaker so she can be present over the phone. What she tells grandma is brutal: She endured her no good ex-husband’s drunken rage, his beating, his gambling because she had the best mother-in-law in the world. But when debt collector wanted to cut off his finger and he told them to cut off hers, it was the last straw. There is no way she is coming home unless he begs her on his knees. Dad cuts off the call and proclaims their endeavor to be useless as he avoids eye contact with everyone.
While that is going on, Huajia is getting reacquainted with his childhood friend Yating. Her with wind blown hair. Him leaning against a wall. It is totally not an awkward re-enactment of 90s romance drama.
Then again, even if he doesn’t have a spine, she will choose him over his cousin. Because the girl is obsessed with communicating with spirits, and Huajia, if all goes wrong for him, will be the next spirit medium for the temple. To frighten him into seeing ghost, she unexpectedly gives him a kiss. It is so shocking, the earth shakes and dislodges grandma’s bed (which is to say there is an earthquake right after they kissed.)
The drama impressed me with how they handle the LGBT topic. Huajia, as weak and awkward as he is, he represents my point of view. “Gay people are regular people who live and love just like the rest of us. And most importantly, I don’t need to prove to you that I’m not gay!”
The long and winding arguments between the son and the father started because of Awei. Their closeness triggered a warning bell in the father’s brain. Holy guacamole, his only son is turning gay. Why else would he bring an outsider to a family affair? As a TV viewer, we know Awei isn’t a dude. But does Huajia know that? He blushes every time he is around Yating, his childhood friend, as if he’s never been around girls before. Yet he acts completely normal when he is around Awei.
I gave the show two thumbs up for how they handle the gender identity topic. When Huajia’s little cousin whispers to him that Awei is a girl, he softly whispers back, “I know.” That moment is golden. Because he is essentially telling us, “So what is your point?” Why should a person be confined to his or her gender role according to social norms? If Awei feels confident and happy the way she is, who is he to tell her that she must act like a girl?
Time to get back to the funny moments in the show.