Once again SLOTAT teetered into total ridiculata, as evidenced by the whole “musical houses” plot, the second joke about dreamcatchers to make it into this drama and all of the following exchanges:
David: A night in the garage does not a lifetime make.
George: What is that? Iambic pentameter or Pig Latin?
. . . or it’s neither of those things . . .
Ricky: How do you even know [Ben] had sex?
Amy: Because he’s acting all grown up and reasonable!
. . . because that’s exactly how every other character on this show who’s had sex acts . . .
Anne: I like that building block weenie!
Adrian: Cribbage? Wait – what is that?
Ricky: Adrian, you don’t care and I don’t care.
. . . he’s right; nobody cares about cribbage . . .
Jack: It’s nothing. We just had a few meetings of the Dead Parent’s Club.
. . . a weak defense for spending the summer with Renee Olstead . . .
Jack: Wait a minute – you, Dr. Grace Bowman, are jealous? I kind of like that. It makes you less doctor. And more woman.
. . . because being a doctor absolutely removes your gender identity . . .
But even with all that craziness, I have to say that this episode was actually one of the best in terms of dramatic tension and performance level in a long, long time. Although I find Adrian’s quest to move in to George’s house kind of silly, the resolution of the Anne-George-David love triangle and Adrian’s confrontation with Ricky about living next door to his baby mama actually gave Francia Rasia some levels to play. By the time Anne has broken up with David, but also chosen not to go running back to her ex-husband/baby daddy, Adrian has decided it’s not worth spying on Ricky anymore and has a wonderful, if unnaturally pop psychology-sounding, conversation with her mother about the nature of her relationship with Ricky. This leads Adrian to go talk to Ricky during his night with John in which she earnestly asks him if they could ever stop cheating on one another and just be together, or if being mistrustful cheaters is all they’ll ever be. Nothing really got resolved out of that conversation, but I enjoyed Rasia’s performance in that scene and I think that we can take the following moments of her interacting with John as an indicator of Ricky’s trust in her (he previously wouldn’t let her near his son). The show isn’t known for subtlety, but I’m going to pretend that scene was intended to include some.
I thought there was a similar level of adult awareness in Ben’s scene with Amy on their date night during their frank discussion of Ben’s jealousy about Ricky’s presence in Amy’s life, whether or not either of them has cheated, etc. Unfortunately, this launched into a screed from Amy about how much she hates Ricky and, consequently, Adrian, which prompts her to demand that date night end and she pick up her son from Ricky’s house. Upon seeing her son in Adrian’s arms, she turns into Psycho Amy once again and starts lashing out at the woman who once drove her to an abortion clinic as Ben and Ricky try to act like civilized people, apologizing for interrupting one another’s evenings while the girls hiss catspit insults at one another and Amy demands that the “slut” not be allowed anywhere near her son. I mean, I get that sometimes we don’t want other people to hold our babies and whatnot, but let’s not forget that the “slut” was the one who tried to give you the option to not have said baby. She’s only trying to help you, Amy! God!
All of that stuff? That stuff is good crazy. It’s soapy as hell, but at least it felt well crafted and somewhat real – which is to say that I believe people do and say insane things when they’re jealous. I am down for this Amy-Ben-Ricky-Adrian hate trapezoid. Give me more of this. It makes way more sense than Grace’s reaction to Jack hanging out with Madison all summer, which is jealousy for no good reason, as Madison, though pretty, is so annoying that no one can even stand being around her for an extended period of time.
In other news, I somehow missed in the last episode that new kid Griffin was teh ghey. I guess I was too busy laughing at his “Are you planning to get pregnant this year, too?” line to notice he announced his sexuality for no apparent reason. I do, however, adore him. I would watch an entire show about his relationship with Ashley, because sometimes they come off like a Beckett play. It’s as though they should both be wearing bowlers, he should be crawling around like a dog and both will get into lengthy discussions about the insanity of the world around them and the proper way to put on boots.
As for his gayness, it so far seems pretty incidental to his character, and I do sometimes find it refreshing that a character can just be gay without having to make a big deal about it or force their existence within a work to be strictly issue-based. (A great example of gay characters who simply are: two of Nick’s friends in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.) In some ways, I think you can argue that not making an issue out of someone’s difference is the best way to demonstrate acceptance, and that’s an attitude that’s always been displayed in Secret Life land, a place where the only missing minority has been the LBGT community . . . until now.
The restaurant scene between Ben and Amy was the first this season to get me to put down my iPhone (and my intense Flickchart.com clicking), and for a show that I watch from a distance to achieve the maximum amount of amusement, that’s 100% a compliment. It was almost smarter than this show has deserved in recent weeks, and adult enough to completely renew my interest in the Amy-Ben dynamic, which had completely fallen apart this season.
And yes, we will go with Hate Trapezoid over Hate Square as a term from now on. Spread the word. It’s both unnecessarily bizarre and confusing enough for dumb people.