' Cinema Romantico: Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Cold File)

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Cold File)

One of the unique things about having a show with multiple moms is the way in which parenting styles and successes and ineptitude can be compared and contrasted. Kate is the newbie, Dr. Diane Buckley is the old pro and Jackie is, well, we’ll get to her.

I remember when I was a kid and for reasons that escape me (and likely escaped me then) I went through a phase where I could not and/or would not sleep. This is the prase precocious Bert is going through and so when Kate insists she wants to play a bigger role in parenting, she is tasked with getting Bert to sleep. Needless to say, this goes poorly. He stays up all night watching TV and she feeds him coffee in the morning to get him going. Kiddo Crash & Burn awaits.

I remember when I was a kid that perhaps the most terrifying sensation was knowing you had done something wrong and covering up that something from your parents but becoming convinced your parents had through their sixth parental sense picked up on what you had done wrong and were now just letting you live in fear and waiting for you to trip up. This is what happens when Warren and Hillary spill salsa on the couch of their mom, Dr. Diane Buckley, and then spend the remainder of the episode convinced their mom is playing mind games with them even if they can’t be truly certain she is playing mind games with them. (She is.)


One mom is in control, one mom is in over her head, and so it goes. The show itself seems to have laid a strong foundation for its premise, which is reassuring, and employing one story to work as a reflection of the other story is simply beyond the grasp of most television Big Four fluff. Even so, if I had a wish it would be that they move away from these refried sitcom tropes and twists. How many times can something be spilled on a couch? (Though this is partially excused for the simple fact that we get to see Marcia Gay Harden salsa dance.) Did the precocious Bert really need to get kicked in the gonads by a soccer ball? (I envision the writer’s room late at night and one writer railing against this scene and another writer explaining that they were already in too deep, that they had to abide by “Chekhov’s Soccer Ball”. It stipulates: “If you show a soccer ball in the first ten minutes then in the last ten minutes someone has to get hit in the gonads with it.”) Do secrets need to snowball until their inevitable unraveling? Please don’t misunderstand, this doesn’t render the show unwatchable and it’s only two episodes in, but…..come on, “Trophy Wife”, play up to your potential.

The potential can be seen in Jackie – or, more accurately, Michaela Watkins who, at the risk of overstating it, is quickly selling me on the fact that she is a goddam genius. I centered my entire “Wanderlust” review around her performance – a brilliant turn with severely dry line readings as a Reality Atlanta Housewife who institutes a 4:00 Happy Hour and blows everyone (including Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and, yes, Malin Akerman) right off the freaking screen. I sang her praises in “In A World…” where she helped to create a funny and real sisterly relationship. And now this, the stressed second ex-wife, waging psychological warfare with new wife while simultaneously providing potent parenting tips. “Half these kids only eat peanuts, half these kids can’t eat peanuts. One wrong bite and half the team is dead.”

She then leaves her own (adopted) child's soccer game to go on a pub crawl with her tai chi class. I wonder what happened there?

1 comment:

Wretched Genius said...

I'm still waiting for the show to give Bradley Whitford some better material. He's capable of so much more than the generic straight man stuff. Also still waiting for Malin Ackerman, a gifted comedic actress, to dial down her energy just a tad. Watkins and Harden are both perfect and should never change.