Now that I've seen the episode, I decided to go and see what other people thought. The results are very mixed - some love it (gee, I wonder who?
), some think it's okay and some hate it (I've even seen one person suggest that the show was on the verge of jumping the shark because of this episode). Basically, what I'm here for is to look at some of the criticisms that have been going around, and then try to go more in-depth into them than my reaction and give my thoughts on them. So, here we go..."The character designs suck."
Okay, sorry everyone, but as I have stated before, the character designs do not bother me. I'm perfectly fine with them. There's two main arguments I've seen against them - that nobody looks any older or grown up, and that it's stupid how everyone is wearing long sleeved clothing in Summer. For the first, I can understand the argument, but it's not something that really phases me. I don't think they look as ridiculous as everyone makes them out to be - I felt like that they were aged up somewhat, but they also made sure they still looked familiar, which is something I personally like, even if many don't. Speaking of familiarity, the least familiar looking design was Buford, which amazingly some people consider to be too radical, yet some people I've seen actually consider his to be the best. It's quite divisive, sure, but I like it as well. I also just realised that people never bring up Irving - he's the only character that does
look indisputably aged up, yet since he only has a cameo he's forgotten. When I first saw an image of him when the episode was leaked, it took a bit to grow on me, but it did just that. There's also the comment that the designs for the adults are really lazy and show no signs of aging - I understand this, but that funnily enough didn't bother me that much either. I guess they are somewhat lazy when they did try to change them (just changing Doof's hair colour and merely adding facial hair to Carl and Monogram), but I still felt like they were fine. I'm not sure about Linda and Lawrence's age, so I'm not even sure if any modification was really necessary (then again since she dated Doof maybe she's a similar age, so maybe they could've done something?). Funnily enough, I still think Perry had the laziest design, but since platypuses in the PnF universe are teal with orange skin and bills, I really shouldn't say much."It felt like fanfiction."
This is one of the most common criticisms that goes around, and it's one that I understand. I don't necessarily feel like it's much of a problem for me, but there are things that I do question that fall under this label. I'm not going in-depth here because these criticisms also fall under different categories, and this is really an umbrella for them all."Phineas not having any feelings for Isabella until high school is stupid."
This is actually a tricky one, since I'm somewhat torn on it. See, there are a few moments that seem to contradict this, most notably the end of the movie where he liked Isabella's kiss and told Carl to wait a moment when moments ago he specifically said he was ready to have his mind wiped, and in Night of the Living Pharmacists where when Isabella was missing, she was all he could think about - not Candace, not his parents, not anyone else in Danville he knows, but her. However, most of these so called "Phinabella moments" could just be him being a good friend. Someone on tumblr actually has a really interesting take on this issue
, and it proposes something I don't think anyone has thought of - maybe he does indeed have feelings for her, but perhaps he just doesn't recognise them or have the emotional maturity to understand them. It actually reminds me of what Jon Colton Barry has said before with how Phineas tends to view things like romance like a formula or one of his big ideas - I don't have an exact quote, but it does support. However, I still think there's a major problem - no matter how you interpret things, I still have the feeling that the writers are writing it like Phineas does
have a thing for Isabella. Case in point, Aliki Grafft's original confession scene
for Night of the Living Pharmacists. In this, Phineas actually seems to almost directly say that he likes her back, and then there's the idea of him actually kissing her. Granted, maybe stuff like this and the movie were just him not thinking clearly and being confused, but I still get the vibe that the show is being written with the idea that Phineas does like Isabella back. Then again, maybe one reason that scene was cut was because it contradicted Act Your Age, but who knows?"The episode wasn't dramatic enough/was too serious."
I put these together because they contradict each other, yet I have seen both fly around. Amazingly, I don't agree with either. For the former, I think people need to realise that this is Phineas and Ferb we are watching, not some heavy drama. Even when there have been emotional moments in the past, they still aren't that overblown and heavy - there's still humour going around. Granted, I will say that there have been emotional moments in the past that have been handled a lot better than what was in the episode, but they weren't portrayed as too over the top (funnily enough, even if some parts in Act Your Age weren't really big with there being tears and arguments, there were some moments that felt really pretentious - seriously, that kiss...). As for the episode being too serious and boring, I don't agree. I still found there was a lot of humour and fun in the episode, despite the subject matter supposed to be being a big tear jerker (which, let's face it, really wasn't - the potential was there with the whole 10 years gap, but I never felt close to crying). I personally felt like the episode felt like it fit in Phineas and Ferb and fit the tone of the show, and that it handled the emotions appropriately."It was cliche."
Actually, this was one of the worries I had going into the episode. Amazingly, even if there were some aspects that were, they didn't really get to me. I think the reason for that was that I still found the episode enjoyable, even with all of the flaws it has. I don't really have much to say on the issue, so I'm not going in-depth on this one."The Doof and Fireside Girl plots were pointless."
This is one I definitely disagree with. I've seen people say both, so I'm putting them together because they are saying similar things. In regards to Doofenshmirtz and Perry, I didn't feel like it was anymore pointless than any other episode. They could've done the episode without them if they wanted to, but then people would see it as being even more like fanfiction because then the episode would be nothing but focusing on getting Phineas and Isabella together. Plus, to be honest I thought it was overall pretty funny. I've also heard people dislike the idea of Doof not being evil, but if what he did was so bad that he was threatened with prison, then I can see why he wouldn't return to it (maybe further episodes will go into more detail on the subject, though). The only thing that makes it different to a standard Phineas and Ferb episode is that it instead has an effect on another subplot, and not the main plot. Speaking of which, the Fireside Girls and the boys trying to get Phineas and Isabella together wasn't exactly pointless either. I have issues with this subplot, but I'll get to them later - the thing with this subplot is that even if some people might not necessarily agree, the characters doing something only for it to be taken away not only felt in place, but was actually kind of funny for me. There's also an interesting interpretation from someone I know that this was also done to show that Phineas and Isabella coming together needed to happen naturally - granted it does work on some level, but on another I'm not really sure on. However, that will be coming later."The way Phineas and Isabella got together was stupid."
I can see why many people feel this way, but for the most part I don't really agree with it. However, I will first get the part I don't like out of the way - TEN YEARS. Baljeet and his awful "we don't talk about feelings" line is so
forced. As I've said before, how has the subject of Phineas and Isabella being together not come up even once
during the time gap, especially since teenagers always talk about crushes? If they used a different line, such as maybe that Isabella insisted not to let them say anything (then again I'm sure someone's going to find problems with that), or maybe even a conversation (that does lead into my next section, but more on that later). However, for the most part, I actually didn't mind how it was handled. The biggest criticism I've seen is that it played up the tendencies on how Phineas and Isabella handle romance, with Phineas being oblivious to her feelings while Isabella doesn't say anything. Thing is, love isn't easy. I still maintain my personal view that Phineas' obliviousness isn't something that is exclusive to Isabella, since he is pretty clueless towards Candace busting him and doesn't always catch on to certain things like villains being villains (though The Klimpaloon Ultimatum does show that at least in this regard he's improving). Not only that it isn't just directed at Isabella, but that I don't think it's necessarily because he's a kid - maybe some of it comes from that, yes, but come on, do the other kids act like this with romance and these sorts of things? As for Isabella, I will concede that Night of the Living Pharmacists (or as I like to call it, Night of the Living Cockblockers) does show that Isabella learns that she should be confident and just tell Phineas how she feels, but our zombie apocalypse plot kind of messes that up. Since she doesn't remember actually confessing her feelings, we don't know of the aftermath of what happens. I hate to use a meta argument, but you could consider the possibility that with episodes like Pharmacists and Operation Crumb Cake showing that you don't mess with the show's status quo even when Isabella steps up her game (even if the latter is just accepting that Phineas may find out), this is what leads her to give up in high school. Plus, as I said, love isn't an easy emotion to live in and I can perfectly understand why it was so hard for them to come out about it. I'm sure some people will say that Phineas should've acted on his feelings as soon as he got them like he does with his big ideas, but until this episode we haven't really gotten any idea of how he handles love, which as I said isn't easy to process. So basically, I do not think it is immature, childish or out of character that they weren't able to say anything to each other for a decade, and that they were justified in doing what they did. However, it doesn't end here. Firstly, I have seen the criticism that Isabella was a jerk who is portrayed as only caring about Phineas to the point of her rejecting her friends when she gave up. I really disagree with this, not necessarily because some people hold that against present day Isabella, but because I don't see that. I don't think Isabella has abandoned her friends, or even Phineas - granted, maybe Phineas and Isabella might have grown somewhat apart, since he says he hasn't seen much of her that Summer, but the song and Buford's comment suggests that they're still friends. There's also the fact that none of Isabella's friends talk about her like she has grown apart, and that Baljeet actually knew about what university she was going to before Phineas did. Lastly, I have also seen some people say that how Isabella and Phineas got together was mundane, boring and cliche. Granted, I liked the awkwardness they shared and the scene where Phineas decides to go to her university, but as I said in my reaction, after that it got really cheesy and silly (fun fact, Swampy actually faved a tweet I made where I made fun of how the kiss was really over the top and was probably causing a traffic jam because they're on the road XD). So yeah... maybe it could've been better. I'm not sure about something that had Phineas making some big idea to impress Isabella, or something overdramatic, but I agree with those that it could've been more interesting. One thing I can definitely say is that Candace and Jeremy's get together was handled much better though."It should've been an hour long."
This is something I think could've benefited for the episode. Bernie Petterson has revealed
that there was a lot that was cut from the episode, and Kim Robertson has even said that
there was a Candace and Jeremy subplot. This would also give them more time to develop certain aspects of the plot, which would've hopefully helped the episode."There needed to be inventions from Phineas and Ferb."
Sorry, but I don't think they were that necessary for this situation. This kind of goes back into the criticisms that the episode felt too mundane and serious, but I didn't think they were necessary to the plot. The letters thing was enough for me, personally. Okay, maybe Ferb could've made something fancier with Buford, Baljeet and the Fireside Girls, but as I said it really doesn't bother me.
"The use of stereotypes wasn't handled well."
I started with the criticism I agree the least with, so I will finish this off with the criticism I agree the most with. As I said in my reaction, the way they used stereotypes wasn't very good. First off, not only did I explain what I hated about Baljeet's "we don't talk about feelings" line is bad from a plot perspective, it also falls into a stereotype about males. That might have been my least favourite line in the episode, but the way the Fireside Girls were handled wasn't good either. As kids they may have been more interesting characters with their own personalities, but here besides Ginger they are all flat characters that embody teenage stereotypes and are basically a cheer squad for Phineas and Isabella getting together. Some people have also said Doof and his mid-life crisis also uses stereotypes, but I didn't really see it that way. "But Tyrannotitan, it's just a joke!" "But Tyrannotitan, Candace is a teenage stereotype, and Baljeet is racist to Indians!" Firstly, just because it was intended to be a joke, it doesn't automatically make it passable. Thing is, if it was intended as a joke (which I will admit was probably the case), then it went over a lot of peoples' heads. However, the thing that really gets me with the stereotypes is that it takes away from the complexity that these characters have. Thing is, a lot of people criticise characters like Candace, Baljeet and Isabella for embodying stereotypes because of their character traits. However, I think that this is different to Act Your Age because these characters are more than the stereotypes they seem to be, and if they weren't at the beginning then they certainly became that way. Candace and sometimes Stacy may act girly and boy obsessed, but both of them have far more to them than just that. Same with Baljeet and Isabella. With Act Your Age however, the stereotypes that the Fireside Girls embody (especially Adyson, who I found to be very unlikeable in the episode) are all there is to them, Ginger aside (she still has some individuality, but it's still connected to Baljeet and she is acting stereotypically in many aspects). Speaking of which, Adyson's "we're girls, it's what we do" line isn't impressive either. Baljeet at least still has personality, but his stupid line still takes away from complexity but in a different way, which is simplifying the plot as I said earlier. Also, the only time we ever got close to getting these stereotypes called out on was from Ferb, who says you can't force these things, but the episode forgets about that line and he just goes along with helping the project anyway. If these stereotypes were supposed to be deconstructed, then they needed to be more obvious about it, like with their use as humour.
So yeah, there's all of my thoughts on some of the criticisms that are going around in regards to Act Your Age. As I have said before, I still like the episode, but it really does have quite a few problems. I still wonder what Dan, Swampy, and several people on the Phineas and Ferb crew see in it that makes it one of the best episodes they've ever done. Not that I want to discredit them of course, but I think the episode really was overhyped. Still, at least this mess is dying down and no longer causing many problems for the fanbase.