For Better or for Worse
The New-Runs were created so the author could avoid bashing Anthony.With the supposedly happy marriage of Elizabeth and Anthony, Johnston inadvertently wrote herself into a corner. While men are generally depicted as boorish and neglectful of their wives — even fragile genius Mike — having Anthony turn out to be just the same would've damaged the whole "man of destiny" vibe she was going for. Plus, she wanted a way to keep working out her anger towards her ex-husband. When she couldn't figure out a way to portray a geniunely happy union between them, she fell back on what she knew. This way, she can Retcon John Patterson into an even bigger Jerk Ass and avoid tarnishing her precious Anthony.
Everything after April falls into the stream is a Fix Fic written by Michael to cope with losing his baby sister.Farley's Heroic Sacrifice and Edgar's Timmy in a Well - and everyone rushing to the rescue - never happened. By the time they realized April was missing, it was too late. The loss hit the Pattersons hard; on the suggestion of a friend, Micheal tried writing about it. Unable to cope directly with his feelings, he speculated instead on what might have been, if only things had worked out a little differently. This eventually ballooned into the Wish Fulfillment seen in the published strip; after all, why not make things perfect in his fantasy version?
Anthony was going to have Therese murdered.He pleaded for Elizabeth to "wait for him", yet Therese was vilified further for daring to divorce him. But if he wasn't planning to divorce Therese anyway so he could get together with Liz, he must have had some other plan in mind for getting rid of his unwanted wife... Thus, Murder Is the Best Solution. Therese was always going to work instead of staying home like she should have been; therefore, an oh-so-tragically-random mugging in the parking lot and her brutal murder would only be her just reward for daring to have goals and dreams outside her assigned gender role. Plus, this would mean they'd get the insurance money, and he'd come off as an even more tragic character, the poor pitiful widower left raising his baby girl all by his lonesome self... until Liz got her act together and threw herself into his waiting arms. Fortunately for Therese, since Good People sit around and wait for opportunities to be handed to them on a silver platter, Anthony was still patiently waiting for a suitably hardened criminal to drop into his lap before making the arrangements. As a result, eviiiil Therese beat him to the punch by hitting him with divorce papers and taking off on her own, having the sheer nerve to stay alive instead of dying for her 'sins'. The cheek of that woman—!
Anthony was waiting for Therese to die.He just assumed she'd get what was coming to her soon enough; he wouldn't have to lift a finger to speed it on. That she divorced him instead of getting herself killed still shocked him because he had assumed that she'd stay with him even though he made no effort to help their marriage work; that's just the way he thought the world worked.
Elly and John approved of Anthony because he reminded them of Elly more than John.By his own admission (though he didn't recognize it as such), Anthony is extremely passive-aggressive and tries to manipulate others without understanding how they tick. He has a narrow, conservative mindset and doesn't know how to deal with alternate points of view. Therese's reluctance to start a family stymied him because he adheres to Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits. Thus, he lied to her, expecting that her female instincts would override all her stated plans and wishes once their child was born. When Francoise was born, he was stunned when Therese did precisely what she said she would do and expected him to keep his promise to her... He made her out as the villain because she wasn't doing exactly what he wanted without being told. Both of the Patterson parents have this problem, but it's far more prevalent in Elly than it is in John. Also, because the strip focuses on her, the audience is meant to feel sorry for her while deriding John for the same flaws. Elly is a poor, put-upon housewife because she doesn't understand John or the kids; John and the kids are horrible because they don't understand her. If we were meant to see Anthony as being similar to John, then he'd be unsympathetic. Since we're meant to praise him, the parallel with Elly is stronger. Elly actually manages to pick up on this, making Anthony a rarity — a guy that she understands. That makes him perfect for her daughter, because she can actually comprehend somewhat why he acts the way he does. (This is also the cause of John's disturbing No Yay vibe with Anthony; of course they seem to connect — he's just like his wife! Only male and not a strange, strange female!)
April became The Unfavorite after falling in the river.A four-year-old nearly drowning and being saved by a Heroic Dog's final act would be pretty big news and would make the rounds in Milborough, meaning that everyone would be talking about it... and, quite frankly, passing snap judgements based on whatever information they got. They'd likely ask unpleasant questions like "What was a four-year-old doing unsupervised anyway?" or "How'd she get out of the yard without anyone noticing?" Elly is very self-absorbed and extremely conscious of others' opinions; even if nobody ever said anything to her, the mere thought of others silently judging her the same way she judges everyone else would leave her terrified — and outraged. And who's to blame for the accident? Certainly not herself — no, it must be that ungrateful, horrible brat April! She never forgave April for that horrible embarrassment, viewing her from that point on as the troublemaking little snot that damaged her reputation.
The Patterson's dislike of the legal system comes from Elly being arrested and tried for the reckless endangerment of a minor.Not only would the near-drowning and rescue of a four-year-old child and rescue cause the Patterson's neighbors to discuss Elly's parenting skills, it would definitely attract the unwelcome attention of law enforcement. All the times that we were watching Michael and Weed match wits with their landlady, we were being distracted from what was really important: Elly being put on trial for child endangerment. The reason she's not in jail is that they convinced Elizabeth to commit perjury and take the blame for her mother's screw-up which resulted in her having to do community service off-camera. This explains why they didn't want a police constable as a son-in-law; he might find out what Elly did and take her to task.
The later years of the strip are being related by April during therapy sessions; the new-runs are from Elly's sessions.At some point in the future of the Foobiverse, April begins therapy sessions to cope with years of being The Unfavorite. She is a somewhat Unreliable Narrator who paints herself as the Only Sane Man, Elly as a Smug Snake with a martyr complex and a need to control her family, John as a useless buffoon obsessed with trains, Michael as a Jerkass, Elizabeth as a whiny, self-centered ninny, and so on. She despises Anthony, and this comes through in the sessions as she describes him as a Nice Guy In Name Only who her family raised up as the Best Man Ever for no reason she could clearly see. They ignore her "wisdom" and treat her horribly for no reason whatsoever. Only occassionally do we see April admit that she might have been in error, as she relates her clashes with Becky and her other friends. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue was delievered with a great deal of sarcasm on April's part, mocking how her family expected everything to be wrapped up neatly forever and ever after the wedding. While the events are true in Broad Strokes, the details aren't so pretty when she focuses on them in further therapy sessions; for instance, their parents starting on longer trips afterwards indicates their further abadonment of the family as things started going to hell behind the mask of marital bliss. The new-runs come about from Elly entering therapy, as she begins recounting her past. Elly is an even worse Unreliable Narrator, as she keeps forgetting or mixing up details and insists that she was the most martyred and put-upon and unappreciated housewife EVER in the history of homemaking. The amount of bile directed towards John indicates that he may have something to do with her entering therapy in the first place; the pair may finally have divorced, or he simply bullied her into it, unable to put up with her passive-aggressive crap any longer. He may have even passed away; given how much Elly relied on his support, it makes sense that she'd lose it after he left and resent him for "abandoning her".
Elly is writing a delusional Fix Fic in her head rather than face the harsh reality of her family breaking apart.Combining elements from various WMGs: after April fell in the river, Reality Ensued. Farley and Edgar didn't save the day; by the time they noticed April's absence, it was too late. Elly and John were charged with reckless endangerment of a minor, with testimony calling them out for other questionable acts of "parenting". They lost custody of Michael and Elizabeth, and — even worse in Elly's mind — became social pariahs. The strain was too much for their marriage, and John divorced her, leaving Milborough and Elly stuck in the lurch. He eventually remarried a brunette French-Canadian. Rather than face reality and make any effort to repair things or just make a decent life for herself, Elly became mired in self-pity and blaming everyone but herself for what happened. Over the years, she constructed an elaborate fantasy — one where she could continue to "suffer" through martyring herself raising a family and insulting her own appearance, while at the same time convincing herself that all the agony was worth it and she was the Best Mom Ever. A massive contridiction, to be certain, but this theory isn't based on the imagining of a woman in fine mental health. Hence, we have Michael fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer, with a girl she very dimly remembers Michael maybe having his first crush on serving as his "ideal" wife. We have Anthony, the only man she felt that she really understood, raised up as Elizabeth's True Love. His marriage to Therese was Elly's way of dealing with John's "betrayal", while the chain of events leading to his finding his way back to Liz was cribbed from cheesy romantic novels and daytime soaps. April becomes The Unfavorite and a whiny brat to assauge her guilt over losing her youngest child in such a horrible fashion. The new-runs come from her entering therapy even as she sinks further into denial; she relates a very unreliable view of events, including projecting her own thoughts and bias into the thoughts of everyone in her elaborately constructed fantasy. On some subconscious level, she recognizes her failures, but can't bring herself to admit that she screwed up. Real Life. Thus, April was created as a bit of Wish Fulfillment... and perhaps to help convince her husband by showing him how cute another baby could be. But as the years went by and she still couldn't convince him, she instead began trying to convince herself that another kid would be more trouble than they were worth. She's trying to convince herself not to regret having that third child she wanted so much.
Elizabeth's wedding dress wasn't really her grandmother's dress "all fixed up".The dress as we first see it after being pulled out of the crawlspace and the dress after all its "alterations" are two different beasts entirely. There's no resemblance whatsoever. This is because they aren't the same dress — the old heirloom simply fell apart during early fittings, having been left to rot for so long. Elizabeth and Deanna had to replace it with a different gown. To cover up their mistake, they held several "fittings" and pretended that Deanna was fixing it up to look more modern. As for Elizabeth's desire to have Grandpa Jim see her walk down the aisle in his wife's gown, well... they presumed he was too addled from his strokes to really be able to tell the difference, especially if they kept claiming to have just "modified" it a bit.
Michael's books were made into Lifetime Movies Of The Week.Stone Season, judging from its samples, is a 'Poor Woman In Misery' slogfest in which the heroine passively endures her husband's insanely over-the-top abuse until he's finally removed from the equation through no effort of her own. Anti-male and anti-femimist; a perfect fit for Lifetime's brand of "entertainment"!
The ending of Stone Season was due to Elly's Executive Meddling.In the actual strip, Michael repeatedly shows a disturbing lack of empathy for others; he has to relearn that "bad things don't just happen to other people" repeatedly over the course of his life... and the lesson never sticks. Expanding this to his already horrible writing, and it seems unlikely that he would recognize that the pain his heroine was enduring was over the top — or, more importantly, WRONG. He treats his own wife like crap, after all. He may not be physically abusive, but mentally and emotionally? Naturally. It's what he grew up with and sees as normal. The strip also established that he was having Elly read over his manuscript as he wrote it. While she enjoyed the torture his female lead went through, finding it "appropriate" since she views herself as a martyr, it eventually sunk in that Michael might be aiming for a Downer Ending that took her torment to a logical conclusion with her eventual demise or, worse, being stuck with her husband forever. Elly impressed upon him the need for the story to have a "happy ending", leading to the Deus ex Machina he eventually came up with.
The entire series was a Truman Show Plot centered around the Patterson kids.Why else would everything be so centered on them and keeping them as close to home as possible? Everyone except the children were in on the act. And perhaps the reason the show got stopped was because April somehow broke the masquerade. They convinced her to keep quiet long enough to air Elizabeth's wedding, but canceled the show there.
The new-runs are Elly retelling past events to Liz over coffee.After the glamor wore off her "token that means I'm taken" and her dream wedding ended, Elizabeth soon found that married life wasn't all she'd built it up to be. She turned to her mother for comfort; Elly responded the only way she knows how: complaining about HER life. Since Elly is the one retelling what happened, she deliberately picks and chooses to try and paint everyone (especially John) as horribly as possible, in order to make herself into more of a martyr. In the process, she's basically telling Liz "Don't hold your breath: nobody's going to help or appreciate you, especially not Anthony." The reruns will stop/the strip will end when Elizabeth can't take it anymore and stops coming over to listen to her mother's horror stories.
April is The Unfavorite because she's the result of a brief affair... or so Elly thinks.Throughout the strip, Elly has attempted all sorts of things to escape the tedium of being "just a Housewife", something she's repeatedly shown to hate despite it supposedly being the only real gauge of her worth. She also constantly assumes and fears John having an affair. Factor in her blatant Hypocrisy and the strip frequently showing said hypocrisy, and we come to the conclusion that Elly may have done exactly what she fears John might do to her: had an affair. Given her wishy-washiness, it likely didn't last long... just long enough that she felt guilty enough to sleep with her husband shortly afterwards. (Given the unusual interest she takes in John's friend Ted in the monthly letters she writes, we can safely guess as to whom her partner was.) When Elly learned she was pregnant with April, she immediately went into shock, declaring "But I Can't Be Pregnant!" This was because she actually wasn't certain who the baby's father was... but was secretly terrified that it wasn't John. She's never known for certain, because she doesn't have the guts to try and find out. This is why she openly despises and neglects April: she sees her as a constant reminder of her affair, and worries about the truth coming out. This may even explain why she so criminally neglected April's safety to the point that she nearly drowned in the ravine. On some level, Elly actually wants April to die so that she won't have to deal with her anymore. She doesn't have the nerve to openly dispose of the evidence, so she sits back and hopes nature will take its course. (Plus, if April died, she could bask in the attention and sympathy she'd get for losing a child, which just sweetens the deal for her.) Whether or not April actually is related to Elly's secret lover is irrelevant. Elly assumes she might be, and that's more than enough for her to justify hating the poor girl for being a reminder of her own mistake. (Even if it ever came out that April is, in fact, John's daughter by blood, Elly would likely twist it around and remain mad at her for "making her fret and fuss for nothing!" Anything would be better than admitting she was wrong.)
Francoise eventually turns on her dad.Francoise becomes ignored by Anthony as he focuses all of his attention on his son from Elizabeth, because Francoise only reminds him of evil, evil Therese, making Francoise the The Unfavorite and James Allen something of a Spoiled Brat, with her doing all the work and him doing nothing at all, despite Anthony and Elizabeth's claims otherwise. As she gets older, Francoise realizes exactly why her mother left and soon becomes bitter and resentful of her dad, and even plans a time to call him out. Upon graduating high school, right in a crowd of hundreds of people, Francoise rightfully calls him out, to the shock and horror of Anthony, as well as everyone else who comes to call him out too, and finally distances herself from Anthony and moves far away to escape from such blatant favoritism.
Lynn Johnston knew her husband was cheating on her for years, but attempted to deny it; many of the references to John cheating were from her trying to subconsciously admit it.John was the one most willing to talk up Anthony to Elizabeth while Anthony was married. Why would someone who appeared happily married advocate an affair with a married man? Even if he thought the Anthony/Therese marriage was a bad idea, advocating an affair that would speed its demise is wrong! But if you're open to affairs, as Johnston's real-life ex-husband obviously was, then it might look acceptable. It's understandable why such a thing would be difficult to face and admit - after a long marriage, even if it wasn't always happy, it can be difficult to face that one side was unfaithful. Johnston struggled to admit it for years; it came out through the strip. Perhaps this is why she wanted another child and therefore created April. Babies Make Everything Better, anyone?
Mira picked a fight with Lawrence to force the Pattersons to admit that the second wedding was a sham.During the lead-up to the fancy church wedding meant to placate her, Mira figured out that it was a smoke-screen to hide that Michael and Deanna had eloped behind her back. She didn't want to face that the daughter whom she thought she raised to do the right thing was behind it, and so she staged the most elaborate ceremony possible to force the cheapskate Pattersons who corrupted her youngest to confess if they didn't want to pick up the tab. After they did pick up the tav, Mira hit on the plan of using Lawrence's sexual orientation against the Pattersons out of desperation. She hoped that they would accidentally call Lawrence by the name of Mike's real best man Gordon while trying to stick up for their friendly neighborhood florist.
Stone Season and Michael's other works are the For Better or Worse 'verse's equivalents of Twilight.That would explain why it, in a sane person's opinion, isn't that good, but still has a lot of fans.
Michael is lying about his success as an author.Stone Season and his other books are not as successful as he tells his family. He lies to them about their success because he wants Elly to be proud of how well he's living her dream. This is why he and Deanna live so cheaply even after his "incredible success".
Elly is a low-grade Reality Warper.She isn't aware of this power. It gradually grew stronger over time — strong enough to influence the behavior of those around her and twist things to suit her desires. All three of her children were able to sense that something was off about Milborough and attempted to escape; only April was able to escape, and that only because Elly's overdramatic "I QUIT MOTHERHOOD!" inadvertently removed her sway over her.
Anthony has a relative named Allen who died shortly after his son was born,As we know, Grandpa Jim died not long after his namesake was born. It stands to reason that a member of Anthony's side of the family also had to die to balance the scales. to make Liz jealous. When Liz didn't completely take the bait, they upped the ante over time, until they hit upon the Zany Scheme of staging a wedding — Elly was convinced that Elizabeth would protest, just like in the movies. But they failed to take Liz's personality into account. She was upset, yes, but stewed in passive-aggressive silence, unable to bring herself to interrupt. Thus, Anthony suddenly found himself in a marriage he wanted no part of. So he improvised, deliberately turning his own passive-aggressiveness up full throttle and irritating Therese. He knew how important her career was to her, and that she didn't feel ready to start a family yet — that was why he pressed and cajoled her into having Francoise and acted like he believed she should give it all up to be a stay-at-home mom. He was trying to provoke her into demanding a divorce so he could play the innocent victim. Therese eventually caught wise to this and confronted him on it. However, he hadn't expected that she could also see why he was treating her this way — Liz may have been oblivious to his feelings for her, but Therese wasn't, accusing him of having an affair and taking him to task for how he'd acted. The 'going-after' was not part of the plan — rather, it was an in-universe example of Real Life Writes the Plot. Anthony's infamous line about "Guess I never had anything to fight for before now" was his own honest shock at realizing he'd put himself in harm's way for Liz's sake. This also means that none of the rest was planned — he encouraged her not to report the fight and offered to 'drive her home' because he was flying by the seat of his pants, desperate to get her alone and blurt out his feelings.
The new-runs are a result of Elly's life flashing before her eyes.I was reading the Fix Fic page, and it made note of a group of bloggers that have as a recent development a bungled murder attempt on John by a third party, leaving Elly on the point of death, with the new-runs as their logic behind this. It doesn't sound too implausible, though it doesn't explain the new-runs of non-Elly strips.
Anthony's father pressured him to marry Therese.In an inversion of Parental Marriage Veto, Anthony's father approved of the driven and ambitious Therese, seeing in her the qualities he'd wanted out of his son. Thus, in a mirror of how Elly and John wanted Liz to get with Anthony, his dad pushed and pressured him to pursue Therese. Anthony, being Anthony, was too weak-willing and passive-aggressive to stand up for himself. He didn't have any other obvious romantic prospects at the time; Elizabeth was off teaching, and they'd parted as 'Just Friends'. This explains why Anthony was strangely miserable before even marrying Therese, when he first told Liz about her. He could have easily spared everyone the heartache by simply refusing to bow to his father's wishes, but instead chose to drag Therese into a marriage he didn't even want. This may overlap with the above WMG about the failed Operation Jealousy, if he tried confiding in his father figure John and was encouraged to go along with it.
Anthony lied about Therese having an affair, ending their marriage.Anthony's conversation with John was the only time in the strip that Therese's affair was mentioned. Anthony and Therese's marriage ended instead when Therese found out that Anthony decided that their marriage was over and essentially proposed marriage to Elizabeth in the "going after". Anthony could not admit to the Pattersons the true story of his divorce, so he concocted this story intended to elicit sympathy for him, and to further vilify Therese.
Anthony paid Howard Bunt to assault ElizabethIt's rather convenient that Anthony ended up being Elizabeth's knight in shining armor during that incident, don't ya think? He seemed to be at the right place, at the right time...or was he? He probably knew about Howard's advances and stalker behavior beforehand and decided to take advantage of this. He and Howard struck up a deal, for him to scare Liz then to set up a situation where he could swoop in and rescue her. Whether Anthony arranged for it to be an attempted rape or not is up for debate. Either way, things went according to plan. Being there for Liz got the ball rolling for their eventual romance. The reason Howard didn't bring this up at his trial is because he was scared of Anthony. Being roughed up hadn't been a part of their agreement, most likely. That and no one would likely buy the story, seeing as everyone seems to adore Anthony.
Deanna didn't quit her job before the Strip of Destiny; she was fired.Remember how Meredith was conceived? "Whoopsie — somehow I, a licensed pharmacist, had no clue that switching birth control would leave me even more fertile during the transition! My bad!" It's not good for a pharmacist to Fail Pharmacology Forever; if she made mistakes like that with their customers... Also, consider how much the Pattersons love gossiping and criticizing others — while being horrible about taking any hint of criticism themselves. Deanna's job allowed her to be privy to a part of peoples' lives they likely wouldn't want being spread around — would you be comfortable if you learned your pharmacist was blabbing about your prescriptions? So Deanna was let go for her unprofessional behavior; rather than admit this, she pretended she quit to pursue her never-before-mentioned dream of opening a sewing school.
Michael and Deanna's private wedding was a sham that Mike cooked up to keep her quiet.A lot of the reason that Deanna didn't want to simply live together is that she was trying in her own blundering way to consider her mother's feelings; since Michael couldn't understand why the emotional well-being of others should get in the way of his having a live-in maid, he got some woman to pose as a minister to make Deanna think that she was really married so that he could get what he wanted when he wanted it. Granted, that had the effect of making Mira's complaints valid but that never stopped the Pattersons from thinking of her as a monster.
Elly will pull the I Want Grandkids trope on April.April went on to have a fulfilling career in Calgary as a vet. Yet there was no mention of she and her 'country boy' (henceforth known as CB) having children (or even really being married). Well, that is just not right in Elly's eyes, and she would constantly be asking April when they will get married/when will they give her more grandkids, cause you know, that's what April's SUPPOSED to do, get married and have kids. Of course, April could very well be childfree but that'd be 'abnormal' in Elly's eyes.
April's country boy is a 'bad boy', or at least in her parents' eyes.Could be anything that sets them off, that he has tattoos and dyes his hair, that he refuses to 'do the right thing' and marry April, that he's a bit bohemian for their tastes, that he and April both do some side music gigs, that he's vegetarian, or even that he's not white. SOMETHING will meet with John and Elly's disapproval, and he'll be as much The Unfavorite as April is.
Social Services Does Not Exist in FBOFWIn a normal world, the Pattersons would have been investigated over April's near drowning. Yet, nothing happened. Either a) there are no social services, b) they're so incompetent that they can't be bothered, c) they've tried, but with Elizabeth taking the blame, they can't make charges stick, or d) they're afraid to because John's got friends in high places that can make life very difficult for them if they try to investigate.
Given opportunities, Elly would have tampered with her daughters' birth controls (and might have already with Deanna)Elly seems like the type to demand grandkids from each of them, and the type to take things into her own hands if they don't give her them fast enough. She could have said to Deanna, no, it's fine to have sex while switching birth control medicines, it won't have an effect, and Deanna, being a sycophant to Elly, would have listened to her instead of remembering that she's a pharmacist and can look this up herself. And in fact, this WMG goes with one I had posited on the WMG page for The New Retcons, one where I suggested that Elly DID sabotage Elizabeth's birth control in that fanfic, resulting in her coming back from her honeymoon pregnant. And let's face it, she WOULD do this to April, and plead innocence, claiming 'well, I guess it's meant to be' and throwing a fit if April implied she would abort it.
Deanna's "Accident" was intentional.She felt that she was ready for kids, and had pitched this to Michael a few times. However, because she knew Michael wouldn't be ready, she arranged an "Accident".
Everything since 2003 has been the result of a conspiracy designed to protect Elly.While we do know that Elly yearns for the day when she doesn't have to race around taking care of other people, it's sadly obvious that she lacks any sort of life skills that would allow her to live on her own. Since she'd be a rather poor fit for any sort of assisted living centre, John, Mike and Liz got together and agreed that the two older children would have to provide for the helpless out of common decency. Since Elly is too behind the times to know what telecommunting is, she has no more idea that Mike is running Portrait from the comfort of his own home than she does that Liz and Anthony eloped and staged a fake wedding to make her feel good.