Merry Happy Whatever: S1E1 Welcome, Matt
A Note to Parents: Merry Happy Whatever is designed to be a family show, yet things have changed since The Brady Bunch was popular. This show features a teenager deciding he’s an atheist, a young woman embracing her homosexuality, and the implications of unmarried couples sleeping together. We at The Source For Parents never want to introduce something to kids that you wouldn’t want them to watch, so we develop discussions that parents can use if they feel the show is appropriate for their child. This show avoids the language and violence we often see today, but each parent will need to decide on their own if it’s appropriate for their family.
Season 1, Episode 1: Welcome, Matt
Netflix has introduced a series that focuses on a family gathering for the holidays. As you might expect, when family comes together, things are less than perfect. The Quinn family is what you might call a rather close family.
Joy: Don has a saying: There’s the Quinn way and the wrong way. How to spend your money. How to vote. Where to vacation.
Todd: What kind of soda to drink.
Todd: It’s always got to be Pepsi.
Joy: And our spouses think the Quinn way is normal. But it’s like a cult. A G-rated cult.
The Quinn’s are gathering for Christmas, and Emmy, the youngest of the Quinn siblings, is bringing home her boyfriend, Matt. A struggling Los Angeles musician, Matt is intending to propose to Emmy on Christmas morning, but first wants to gain the approval of her father.
Matt: Anyway, I’m in love with your daughter, Mr. Quinn. And when a man loves a woman who has a father traditionally, uh…
Don: Are you asking for my blessing to marry Emmy?
Matt: Oh. Uh Yes, I-I was. I am.
Don: You are the first of my three daughters’ suitors to have the guts to do this.
I really appreciate it.
Matt: Oh. You are quite welcome.
Don: Which makes it that much harder to say no. You know, after this whole Alan thing, I just realized I got to be more careful about who I let into this family. But thanks for asking. It means a lot. Not enough, but a lot.
Earlier in the episode, Alan announced he was divorcing Kayla, the Quinn’s middle daughter. Don turns Matt down in an effort to keep control over his family and to do what he would consider as protecting his youngest daughter Emmy.
Throughout this episode we see people striving for the approval of others. Matt goes on a crusade to earn Don’s approval, which of course does not end well. While serving as Don’s unsolicited helper, fastening Christmas lights on the roof, Matt inadvertently shoots Don in the head with a staple gun.
Meanwhile, Sean Jr., who is Don’s grandson, has decided to tell his parents he’s an atheist. He approaches them with fear, though they receive this news well. Later he doesn’t tell his grandfather that he has surrendered his faith because he doesn’t want to hurt his feelings.
Matt observes that Don is acting strange around nurse Nancy and points out that Don has feelings for Nancy – which of course Don denies.
Finally, Emmy reluctantly agrees to meet to discuss a job in Philadelphia with a man named Ted, because her dad has pushed her pretty hard to at least sit down and consider moving back home.
Don: Uh, you know what would make this perfect? If you’d just agree to meet with Ted Boseman.
Emmy: Oh, Gosh
Don: Not to take a job, just to chat. You know, as a favor to an old man who just got staple-gunned in the head.
Emmy: Okay. Okay. Stop bugging me and I’ll do it.
The goal of this show is to look at the realities of family during the holidays, and to do so with a comical twist. Here we see the members of the Quinn family continuously fighting for the approval of each other and doing so in various ways. It’s difficult not to consider the ways each of us strives for the approval of those around us each day and wonder if that’s the right approach to relationships.
In the New Testament book of Galatians, the apostle Paul writes about our tendency to do things with the aim of pleasing others.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
While there is nothing wrong with doing things that will bring joy to others, what we get here is a serious motivation check. As followers of Jesus, when it comes to our actions, we need to consider why we are doing the things we do. Paul rejects the idea that our focus, that our audience in this life should be others – but instead we should view God as the one we aim to please. The results of pleasing God surely will benefit others and often bring joy and even satisfaction to them.
Through His Word, God is challenging us to a perspective shift. He is inviting us through Paul’s experience to ask ourselves a penetrating question. If we are stepping through each day with a desire to please those around us, can we truly be considered servants of God? It does not seem God is calling us to cause displeasure to those around us, but instead is posing the concept that our primary desire, our ultimate calling is to find out what pleases Him – and to be driven by those things above all else.
Discussion Questions (for parents and their children to engage in together)
- In what ways does the Quinn family remind you of your own? How are they different?
- Who is the character in this episode that you enjoyed the most and why?
- Why do you think Don really denied Matt approval to marry Emmy?
- Do you think the Quinn’s are aware of how they are perceived outside of their family?
- When you consider the characters who were seeking the approval of others, who did you think was right in their actions and who would you say might have been wrong?
- Looking at your own life, whose approval (besides God) do you find yourself trying to earn? Why do you think you do this?
- What is the most difficult thing about aiming to please God above all else?
- Why do you think it’s important to keep the focus on pleasing God?
- Why did Paul say if he was trying to please people, then he is not a servant of Christ?
- How can pleasing others be destructive in our lives?
- What are some ways we can avoid falling into the trap of trying to please others above pleasing God?
- How can we pray for each other right now?
Rob Chagdes is one of the pastors at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi. You can reach Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org