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Therapist Reviews Family Dynamics in Movies & TV

Marriage and family therapist Stephanie Yates-Anyabwile breaks down scenes of family dynamics in movies and TV, including 'Succession,' 'Little Miss Sunshine,' 'This Is Us,' 'Inside Out,' 'Mrs. Doubtfire,' 'Schitt's Creek' and 'Addams Family Values.' 00:00 Intro 00:34 Succession 02:43 Thor: Ragnarok 04:16 Little Miss Sunshine 06:25 This Is Us 08:29 Inside Out 10:16 Mrs. Doubtfire 12:08 Schitt's Creek 13:48 Addams Family Values Director: Jameer Pond Director of Photography: Cole Evelev Editor: Matt Colby Therapy Expert: Stephanie Yates-Anyabwile Creative Producer: Frank Cosgriff Line Producer: Jen Santos Associate Producer: Jess Gordon Production Manager: Marile Hodge Production Coordinator: Jamal Colvin Casting Producer: Nick Sawyer Camera Operator: Lauren Pruitt Audio: Gabe Quiroga Production Assistant: Jermy Saint Louis Post Production Supervisor: Marco Glinbizzi Post Production Coordinator: Andrea Farr Assistant Editor: Andy Morell

Released on 07/21/2022


It's probably for the best

that we never see each other again.

That's what you always wanted.

If Thor was being genuine,

I think he would have given Loki

the opportunity to verify,

has he always wanted to leave,

or is this a threat,

especially with Loki being adopted,

he might always question his place in the family.

And when Thor makes statements like

You always wanted to leave,

it's almost saying Loki is dispensable,

which I imagine is his worst fear.

Hi, my name is Stephanie Yates-Anyabwile

and I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist.

In today's video,

we're gonna be talking

about family dynamics in television and film.

This is a scene from Succession.

You know, I like to begin these things

with uh, a little prayer.

Um, they f you up, your mom and dad.

They do not mean to, but they do.

They fill you up with faults they had

and add some extra just for you.

This therapist, you can tell,

is starting with a gut punch approach to breaking the ice.

And you have to be very careful with that.

You might have some that find that sort of joke funny,

and then some who completely shut down

and feel alienated by the therapist.

Figure out how do they joke and try to mirror that.

I never touched Roman inappropriately.

If he says I did, I didn't.

[Daughter] Well, glad to clear that up.

He was gonna make a horrible joke,

so I'm preempting.

Even for being a new watcher to this show,

they are showing you what their roles are in the family.

The uptight one, I imagine he's probably

the oldest in the family, maybe.

He felt the need to set the tone in the session

and basically predict what his little brother

was going to say

and try to stop that in its tracks before it happened.

The little brother,

I'm assuming he's probably the distractor of the family.

He's probably the one that's gonna

crack an inappropriate joke to diffuse the tension.

This is like uh, like the first stages of an orgy.

It's like kind of exciting, but also super awkward.

That is a useful and valuable role in a family.

But they do normally get a lot of hate within families,

'cause it feels like you can never be serious.

Even with the daughter taking a step back,

she gives middle child vibes,

but I'm not sure because I don't watch the show.

Everything I've done in my life,

I've done for my children.

I-I know I've made mistakes, but,

but I've always tried to do the best by them.

To just put a cliche statement

onto years worth of hurt.

Mm, I don't know if I would view that

as an accountability standpoint.

If he had maybe apologized or if he was able

to maybe specify areas that he regrets

and maybe share a plan for how he's going to navigate

that going forward,

I think that's what accountability looks like.

This is a scene from Thor Ragnarok.

Here's the thing.

I'm probably better off staying here on Sakaar.

That's exactly what I was thinking.

Did you just agree with me?

I thought this scene was very telling

of their relationship as brothers.

They're constantly trying to give one another

an opportunity to be a good brother.

At the end of the day, you're you and I'm me.

And, I don't know, maybe there's still good in you

but, let's be honest, our paths diverged a long time ago.

We usually only look at it from Thor's perspective,

but on Loki's end, even in this elevator scene,

he's giving Thor an opportunity

not to view himself as the hero.

It's probably for the best

that we never see each other again.

That's what you always wanted.

Thor phrased that as a statement,

instead of asking a question.

Whenever we're passive aggressive

or make declarative statements,

we really remove the opportunity

to learn more about the person we're engaging with.

If Thor was being genuine,

I think he would have opened that up

like an open ended question

and given Loki the opportunity to verify,

has he always wanted to leave,

or is this a threat, especially with Loki being adopted.

It's almost saying, Loki is dispensable

which I imagine is his worst fear.

Hey, let's do get help.


Get help.


Come on, you love it. I hate it.

It's great, it works every time.

It's humiliating.

Get help, please, my brother, he's dying!

Get help!

We keep seeing the two of them giving each other

chance after chance

because of their shared history,

and I think that's what both of them hold onto.

This is a scene from Little Miss Sunshine.

Can I get the, uh, waffles?

And, um, I don't, what does a la mode mean?

Oh, that means it comes with ice cream.

Okay, a la mode, then.

Ice cream is made from cream,

which comes from cow's milk

and cream has a lot of fat in it.


Those women in Miss America,

are they skinny or are they fat?

This clip is really hard to watch.

He verbalized fear and she did begin to internalize that.

She is starting to mourn her relationship

with one of her favorite foods.

Often we're thinking,

you're helping this kid be successful

and avoid these pitfalls.

But what you're really doing is instilling

certain complexes and insecurities in them.

Is he concerned about his daughter's health

or is he concerned about her image?

Maybe this parent is in a position

where they have achieved a certain level of success

and they're terrified about their lineage or legacy

being disrupted with the next generation.

My guess is that for this father,

he probably has not exactly gotten

to where he wants to be in life.

He's terrified of his child experiencing

the same disappointment that he feels.

Always ask yourself, is this mostly about my kid

or is this mostly about me?

Does anyone want my ice cream?

Yeah, I'd like a little.

Dwayne, Frank, Olive's not gonna have her ice cream.

Yeah, do you mind if I have a little bit?

Yeah, let's dig in.

That looks really good.

Boy, I feel sorry for anybody

that doesn't want to enjoy their ice cream

so early in the morning.

Boy, that looks good.

I love how the family responds to that.

They actually try to model for her

what it looks like to enjoy ice cream.

Wait! Stop.

Don't eat it all.

A modeling behavior is actually

one of the strongest things you can do

to help show a child the best way to behave.

She was really lucky to have them all around,

'cause had it just been her and her father,

she probably would've walked away

never wanting to eat ice cream.

This is a scene from, This is Us.

Rebecca, do you have an opinion

about your husband's alcoholism?

Did you ever talk to your children

about their father being an addict?

Did you ever warn them that they would have the gene?

When I watched this therapist,

it is actually very painful for me.

I disagree with a lot of her choices in the room.

She is coming from such a hostile perspective herself,

that she incites the family.

She sets the tone

for this very combative, hostile environment.

The first thing we have to distinguish

is that this is not family therapy.

This is what we would call a collateral session.

Kevin has already been working with her

in individual therapy.

For that reason, I wouldn't even recommend

having the whole family there at once

because what's gonna happen is

a lot of these old triggers are reenacted.

Never compare my tortured childhood with yours, Randall,

because I wasn't abandoned or adopted,

or I didn't have anxiety or I'm not a genius.

No, you're definitely not that, Kevin.

You know what else you're not?

You're not an addict, okay?

The only thing that you're addicted to is attention.

Memory is not fact.

He is asserting his truth.

These narratives that we construct about ourselves,

they're really like self-preservation

because if we were to truly accept

another person's narrative,

a lot of times we don't really come out as the hero

in those situations.

If Kevin is an addict,

how does that reflect back on Randall, right?

It's a much easier narrative

for Randall to say that Kevin

is just being attention-seeking.

It's a lot easier for him to maintain the resentment

he's had against him for years.

I'd encourage any of you who are dealing with that,

don't be defensive.

Just be curious and maybe,

depending on the relationship,

what could you do to help make their experience today,

be from a more healed or removed standpoint

than maybe how they've been carrying it

with them for all of these years.

This is a scene from Inside Out.

I found a junior hockey league,

right here in San Francisco, and get this,

tryouts are tomorrow after school.

What luck, right?

Hockey? Uh-oh.

What do we do? Guys?

Uh, th-th-th-this, the, here, you-you pretend to be Joy.

Wouldn't it be great to be back out on the ice?

Oh yeah, that sounds fantastic.

Did you guys pick up on that?

We did.

Something's wrong.

Should we ask her?

Let's probe, but keep it subtle

so she doesn't notice.

So how was the first day of school?

She's probing us. I'm done.

What a great scene to show those family dynamics

and the options you have.

How the wrong choice can really elevate

the emotions in a conversation.

School was great, all right?

Is everything okay?


To ask what's wrong feels like a very safe thing to do,

especially with a certain tone,

but a lot of people,

especially when they're in a place

of struggling emotionally,

they don't want somebody to be able

to easily read them like that.

Maybe Riley's in a mood due to this move.

You might wanna say something like,

Do you miss anybody back home today?

Was there anything that reminded you of home,

where you can just get that conversation going.

If you can ask an open-ended question

that someone is willing to answer,

more than likely they're gonna lead themselves

to what the problem is.

You've got somebody who needs that space

before they can talk about something.

You have to give it to them,

even if you're that person that wants

to deal with it right in the moment.

If you push somebody to talk

about something before they're ready,

the conversation is bound to be unproductive.

[Anger screaming]

Just shut up!


That's it.

Go to your room.

This is a scene from Mrs. Doubtfire.

Don't you dare make me out to be the monster here, Daniel,

don't you dare!

You have all the fun and I get whatever's left over.

Oh, you chose the career, miss-

I have no choices here, Daniel.

I have no choices.

One of the first things that was concerning

was just the parents feeling comfortable

arguing so intensely in front of the kids.

I feel for those kids having to watch that

and just be terrified about what

the aftermath of that is gonna be.

Even when I try to do something fun,

you have to do it 10 times bigger.

I bring home a birthday cake and a few gifts,

you bring home the goddamn San Diego Zoo

and I have to clean up after.

Oh, I'm sorry, but it's not toxic waste,

it's just a few party plates.

The fun parent versus the disciplinarian.

We know that's a very common dynamic within families.

More often than not, it leads to resentment.

Both sides struggle in those kind of situations.

We usually only focus on who Sally Field

represents in this scene.

The person who has to work

while the other parent gets to be the fun one.

But it goes the other way around as well.

Because what I hear from the parent

who's the fun parent

is a lot of times they feel insufficient.

Their self worth is tied up in those kids liking them.

That's a very unhealthy symbiotic relationship.

Maybe this is something that worked for you all

for a really long time,

and if it's not working anymore,

be willing to renegotiate that.

Maybe both of us work part-time,

or maybe I'll take on

the caregiving responsibilities for a while

and you take over bread-winning for a while.

You can see when he becomes Mrs. Doubtfire,

same exact person, just with an accent and a dress on,

they get along beautifully.

That lets you know

that this is not about the kids

and how they're raising the kids.

This has everything to do

with disappointments within the relationship.

This is a scene from Schitt's Creek.

We've come to the realization

that we've not been very good parents.

Sadly, and most of the time

we have no interest in what's going on with you.

We have no idea what's, 'cause she means no idea.

We have lost touch as a family.

And if we're gonna get through this ordeal together,

we have got to get reacquainted.

This scene actually represents a great example

of what emotional neglect looks like.

The mother says in the clip,

Our lack of interest.

In reality, that's what it was.

They weren't interested in what their kids had going on.

The game is two truths and a lie.

So you've heard of it, you've-

Um, okay.

My eyes are brown.

I am basically sample size.

And one time I escaped from a Thai drug lord's car trunk

by bribing him with sex.

Right idea, honey.

But you know what?

It's gotta be more challenging

for everybody in the room. Her eyes are aqua.

You did what?

Whenever we ask questions about the past,

especially when it's the parent asking the child,

you want to always be very clear on your intentions

for knowing that information.

I think sometimes we go into it

just out of pure curiosity,

like, hmm, did you have sex before marriage?

But if you already know that you can't handle

if the answer is yes,

probably it's not a good question for you to ask.

Talking about the past can be important,

but make sure you're ready for absolutely any answer

and that you're maintaining that space

for curiosity and not defensiveness.

This is a scene from Addams Family Values.

Fresh air, the scent of pine.

Wednesday, look at all the other children,

their freckles, their bright little eyes,

their eager, friendly smiles.

Help them.

As therapists,

we have to be very careful

about pathologizing a family's culture.

Each family has its own version of what's appropriate,

what's inappropriate,

the boundaries that are going to exist.

That's why those collateral sessions are so helpful

because you may start thinking of this client

as just otherworldly, something's wrong.

But in the context of their family,

it might actually make a ton of sense.

I'm not perky.

That's for damn sure.

[Wednesday] But I wanna be.

You do?

I wanna smile and sing and dance

and be Pocahontas in Gary's vision.

Wednesday is at that age where

she's trying to figure out her own identity

and her family, I think, it looks like

they're giving her an opportunity to explore things

beyond their family culture.

She's figuring out what is normal for her.

For another kid, they might

go into their goth phase at that age.

For Wednesday, maybe her equivalent of a goth phase

is coming out of being a normal kid.

Give your child some space

and give your child some grace.

Allow them the opportunity to try things.

I wanna give them support when they need it.

If you are not ready for family therapy,

the tip that I can give you when engaging with people,

remember to reflect back what you're hearing.

Don't get so focused on defending yourself

or trying to have the perfect response

that you're forgetting to really be in tune

and listen to what the people around you are saying to you.

So that's what I love to leave you guys with today.

Practice your reflection skills

and I wish you the best of luck

in having conversations

that are more productive and healing.

Thanks for watching this video.

Take care.

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