Average Family

A kid and her kin: Raven Bellefleur tries to survive too much family togetherness
Rob Levine

Larissa FastHorse sets Average Family, her tale of authenticity and family redemption, in about the last place one would think to look: reality TV. Nathan Steven Monés, patriarch of the constantly bickering Roubidoux family, sees a call for contestants on a survival show and picks up the phone, deciding to gamble reason and sanity in the hopes of bringing his wife and three children into harmony.

It's a daft-as-hell notion, although you know it's going to work in the end. Yet a twist arrives when the family shows up on the set. They're pitted against the motherless Monroes, crazed semi-survivalists with an alarming skill set perfectly suited for the competition. Complicating matters is the producer's decision to cast the Native American Roubidoux fivesome as teepee-dwelling Indians (never mind that they're lifelong city folk).

What follows is weird, at times alarmingly intense, and finally genuinely moving. Roubidoux daughter Mikenzie (Raven Bellefleur) receives a book called The Dakota and Their Ways from the Monroes' youngest, Sarah (Elaine Patterson), and eventually bonds with mom Debra (George Keller) in a bid to save the family from mounting futility and a dangerous feud with the Monroes that turns positively harrowing. The action ends on a sweet, positive note that avoids the taste of saccharine—when the Roubidoux clan drop their contentious ways, they don't stop being interesting, much like this show itself.

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