Unstable, starring father–and–son duo Rob Lowe and John Owen Lowe, follows Ellis Dragon, a genius scientist trying to get back to work after the death of his wife. As he goes through the grieving process, he causes chaos at his company. Enter Jackson, his estranged son, who comes back to help him pick up the pieces while also navigating through newfound relationships. The series revolves around the day-to-day shenanigans of Ellis and Jackson, showcasing the talents of breakout actors Aaron Branch, Emma Ferreira and Rachel Marsh, as well as comedy veterans Sian Clifford and Fred Armisen.
The dynamic between Ellis and Jackson is very like Tony Stark and Peter Parker in the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ellis carries the same bravado, wit and quirkiness that Robert Downey Jr brought to his tenure as Stark. Meanwhile, Jackson’s story arc of becoming more than just his father’s son mirrors Parker’s identity crisis in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. The pair’s relationship explores the insecurities a child may feel under the overwhelming shadow of a parent, but also their rebellion and pursuit of affirmation of their own identity.
A high point of the series is the characters’ bonds: the curious friendship of Jackson and Malcolm; the love triangle between Jackson, Luna and Ruby; how Ellis and Anna deal with the antagonists; and the way Luna and Ruby interact with Malcolm. These are all such interesting threads and, while they don’t always have the biggest impact on the developing plot, they still make the show a joy to watch. The jokes are simple but the actors riff off each other so well, and the adventures are wacky and fun.
Unstable‘s production capitalises on Jackson’s dilemma when it comes to his father. There’s a lot of symmetry portraying the two as one and the same, but still separate entities; for example, having them constantly sit or talk across from each other, or highlighting their positions when they’re side by side. Mirror shots help reflect the way Ellis sees himself in his son. All of this further complements the father-and-son relationship and draws viewers deeper into their character journeys. The fact that the two are played by Rob and John just adds extra nuance to their interactions