Main cast: Kerry Norton (Anne Alstein), Jason Priestley (Alan Alstein), Elliott Gould (Barney), and Brenna O’Brien (Amy Alstein)
Director: Joe Dante
The Screwfly Solution is a take on the nightmarish scenario that, when men begin to act on their aggression, with their sexual arousal turning into homicidal tendencies aimed at women, the world will be a dire place indeed. You must believe that women are a helpless lot in general, unable to resist, fight back, or run away when their menfolk turn berserk. And that women all over the world would be wiped out by men in a matter of a few months, because oh, poor helpless women.
Caught in this whole mess is our heroine, Anne Alstein, and her husband Alan, both of whom study insects. The title of this episode is a giveaway that it is based on Alice Sheldon’s short story of the same name, one that won all kinds of awards for, I always believe, its so-called daring concepts rather than the story itself. In fact, the screwfly solution is nothing like the premise story – the solution refers to sterilization of male screwflies to artificially reduce the population. Here, it’s just men going crazy and killing their womenfolk, to the point that they eventually rid the world of women before they either begin murdering boys or die of the infection that gives rise to their murderous impulses.
To top it off, the central female characters in this episode are mostly on the fatally dumb side. Anne is the sole exception, as she is the heroine, but my goodness, her daughter Amy deserves what is coming to her. Her father tries to kill her, and yet, she runs back to him… all because she and her mother are like, so over. Jason Priestley looks like he’s only half-awake throughout the episode – it’s not like his career is flourishing at that moment – and he’s the weakest link in this episode, but then again, he doesn’t seem so bad when the rest of the cast are probably a bit too competent at crying, being useless, and doing stupid things to get killed. Barney is the only character that escapes this episode with some dignity intact.
Sure, this episode plays on the fears one may have on the exaggerated notion that men would turn into violent beasts bent on rape and murder if given the right impetus, and there are disquietingly too-true-to-life moments of men justifying these impulses under the guise of religion or “she asked for it by being immoral, etc”. But the whole episode plays out like a toxic masculinity pamphlet distributed in left-wing colleges these days, written by college professors and diversity officers who have never experienced normal, healthy loving relationships with other human beings. It exaggerates the haplessness of women to make them victims even as it passes off violence as part of a man’s genetic makeup. It’s all nonsense, done in a stupid way too.
This one is just stupid enough for those social media crowd that blames everything wrong in the world on cis white men, but I’d like to think that most people are too smart to do anything more than to roll up their eyes at it. This isn’t Joe Dante’s fault, it’s just that he’s drawn the short straw to have to work on a source material that is stupid in the first place.