We missed out on SLOTAT while we were finding our dream home with a murder basement up in Seattle, and it appears we made the correct decision to not immediately watch the post “having sex will kill your dad in an airplane crash” episode until we had another one to pair it with. “What’s Done Is Done” had three basic plot lines:
1. Grace is mewed up to her heavens (Shakespeare!) and is, like, really fucking angry at everyone because she’s transferring her own self-hate onto others. This show is deep.
2. Every character in the SLOTAT universe has a discussion about whether or not they will/can/should attend Dr. Bowman’s funeral. Like I said, deep.
3. Amy is a tired new mom, coping with changes in her life, which she uses as an excuse to be a total fucking bitch to everyone else.
This is another way of saying that nothing actually happened that moved the story forward. Sometimes SLOTAT gets into these writing ruts where different sets of characters will have the same conversation numerous times, such as the discussion of funeral attendance. Adrian tries to convince Grace that she’s not responsible for her dad’s death (which she fails at doing, even though I think she said Grace’s name about 23 times during this scene, which is how she demonstrated how serious and caring she was being) and asks her to attend her father’s funeral, George helps ex-wife Mrs. Bowman execute Dr. Bowman’s funeral plan, Amy realizes she’s the only one not going to the funeral and acts like a total fucking bitch about it, Madison and Lauren appear for all of two minutes to participate in a totally pointless and frustratingly circular conversation about going to the funeral versus babysitting John versus doing Amy’s job for her so she can go to the funeral, Ben and Ricky fight over which one of them has to cover at the butcher shop so the other can go to the funeral . . . bah! This just kept happening and happening and happening and I don’t understand why! Did we run out of actual plotlines and character development? Is this all we’re left with? Redundant discussions about funeral attendance and debates over the correct terminology for the monstrous catered trays of cheeses and meats available at fine retailers such as Costco and Sam’s Club? I do not care if it’s a cheese tray or a party platter! I just want you to tell me a fucking story!
The following episode, which ended with Dr. Bowman’s delightfully quirky golf course funeral (because doctors LOVE GOLF!!!!) and a Kathy Kinney-led chorus singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” while actually riding on golf carts, was basically just a continuation of Grace’s continued struggle with her intense guilt (and some transference of that guilt onto Adrian, who clearly made sex look so tantalizing that she’s actually the one responsible for Dr. Bowman’s plane crash . . . yes . . . that’s it) and yet more whining and bitching from Amy about how she really wants to go to the funeral and is mad she can’t go because she has to work. Boo! Responsibility and childcare are hard! So hard, in fact, that Amy, very darkly, delivered my favorite line ever uttered on SLOTAT:
“I don’t have time to dream.”
Did she trade identities with Ashley? Christ. That’s almost as heavy as my favorite from Grace in “What’s Done Is Done”:
“He had a horrible death because I had incredible sex.”
SLOTAT suddenly became very, very dark.
“Par for the Course,” which is a golf pun in case you were wondering, concerned whether or not Grace would show her face at her father’s funeral. Some confusing arguments were made, the most perplexing of which came from Jack’s dad, who claimed that while he doesn’t necessarily frown upon premarital sex, he believes sex should occur only within the confines of marriage for the protection of the female partner, so they’re not violated or devalued. That makes no sense to me for two reasons: 1.) There are many places in the world where religious law requires women to be virgins when they are married, which sometimes lead to men marrying very young girls to ensure their virginity. 2.) There are also many marriages in which the female partners are sexually abused by the husbands such an argument claims will protect them. I also raise an eyebrow at that kind of rhetoric that continually frames women as things to be protected.
As Ann finds herself in the position Amy was in at the start of the show (although actually pregnant Molly Ringwald is obviously way too pregnant to match her character’s level of pregnant and the production folks at SLOTAT are not nearly as good at masking her as other shows might be), she and George discuss the terms for finalizing their divorce, and she and David maybe, possibly proceed towards marriage, providing George goes through with that whole divorce thing. George actually had a couple of soft moments in this pair of episodes, comforting his ex-wife as she mourned the loss of her husband and telling Ann that, when they divorced, he wouldn’t try to take her house from her as, after 14 years of marriage and two children, “I figured I owed you the house.” That sentiment was probably the nicest thing I’ve ever heard come out of George’s mouth, but even that didn’t last long as about 30 seconds later the two were bickering again.
Almost as much as superbitchmom Amy, who really, really, really does not want to have sex with Ben anytime in the near future, even though he kind of really wants to now. The writers achieved some semblance of character development with this plot, as Ben’s father goes to work with him so Ricky and Kathy Kinney can attend the funeral. Ben perceives this as yet another person who doesn’t think he can do anything (coming on the heels of Amy’s complete belligerence toward his desire to babysit and subsequent perceived failure when he leaves the baby with his father and soon-to-be-stepmom Betty the Escort for five whole minutes), and tells his father as much, storming out of the butcher shop in a fit of anger, echoing the fight Grace and her father had only episodes before. Luckily for Ben, Betty the Escort picked him up and drove him to the funeral, along the way dishing out some unsolicited advice about how he shouldn’t be upset with his father because if he loses his family, he’ll probably end up becoming a male prostitute somewhere along the line. I don’t really know what happened in that scene, but, at the very least, I learned some more about Betty, so that’s a plus.
I truly believe these two episodes would have been stronger as one entity, although on the other hand, I appreciate the realism of drawing out the aftermath of Dr. Bowman’s death a little longer. SLOTAT just doesn’t have the actual dramatic content to bridge that gap anymore. What’s up with this season and why don’t I care?
Quotes that amused me:
- “We’re not married. I don’t have to tell you what my plans are.” – Ricky, with a sneer.
- “Does this look like a baby store? Are we selling babies here?” – Kathy Kinney, to which Ben correctly retorts that they do sell veal.
- “Don’t glamorize teen pregnancy, okay?” – Mama Ringwald, in the show’s most self-aware moment.
- “Don’t try distracting me with a whole bunch of questions no one can answer!” – Bitchface Amy, about a bunch of questions that someone actually could answer. I mean, it’s not like Ben asked her about the meaning of life; he just wanted to know if her mom was going to marry her boyfriend!
- “Even if you killed him, he’s with Jesus now. Mom isn’t.” – Tom, softening the blow a little bit. I think.
- “Obviously you’re okay with you son having sex because you’re still alive!” – Grace, to Jack’s dad.
While the quote “I don’t have time to dream” is definitely the darkest line the show has ever possessed – it’s something I should say to homeless people begging for money in order to creep them out – the funniest line in SLOTAT’s history was the aforementioned (and re-mentioned here) piece of genius, due to its mixture of sheer inanity and illogical rage:
“Don’t try distracting me with a whole bunch of questions no one can answer!”
And while I agree that this two-episode intense focus on the drama surrounding Grace’s father’s death (didn’t this motherfucker die hard enough on Smallville several seasons back?) went on far too long, I’ve been greatly enjoying something my wife passed over – Adrian’s extremely frank sex talks with her father, which walk the line between earth-shatteringly inappropriate and kind of sweet in a Kevin Smith sort of way.
And I hate to be this guy, but the developmentally delayed actor who plays Tom, Luke Zimmerman, usually portrays a very sweet guy who just has trouble getting words out but is really struggling with some of the more serious dialogue thrown his way, and I try my hardest to stifle a giggle whenever he tries to scream at Grace. I like the kid, but Chris Burke he is not. (Shit, did you know that Corky from Life Goes On is 42 now?)