' Cinema Romantico: Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Halloween)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Halloween)

As it turns out, last week’s episode of “Trophy Wife” was not the Halloween episode. This week’s episode – the aptly named “Halloween” – is, and Halloween, it seems, brings out the best and worst (best?) in our whole generally functional –give or take – clan. It splits the family into two groups – three and four – and views what happens out on the streets amidst so many little kid Iron Men and what happens on the home front when the cows come home to roost (coinage: Frank Drebin).

Bradley Whitford’s Pete has been established as a lawyer but we have rarely seen him in a lawyering light, aside from that mysterious phone call he fielded that led to him declaring how much he hates his job (which is just so tragic). Unless he doesn’t really hate his job, because “Halloween” suggests that aside from his legal puns (Marcia Hay Garden’s dismissal of this had me in stitches) he really might have the legal shark blood. This is because when a mystery kid in a mask shows up at the front door demanding candy, Pete recognizes the voice. It’s the voice of the kid that egged his house last year. Thus, exercising his right to indefinitely detain an American in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act (at least I think this is how the NDAA works), Pete drags the kid inside, apparently turns off the porch light and sets up a suburban kangaroo court.


The interesting thing here is not how it ends, which is inevitable, which is to say the kid is guilty despite being “released” and Pete literally winds up with egg all over his face, but in how the family professes to taking issue with Pete’s tactics while idly sitting by and sort of quietly encouraging it. Consider Dr. Diane Buckley. She professes sorrow for this detainee and keeps offering him candy, but Gay Harden delicately conveys how she’s really on Pete’s side. I suspect she just wants to elicit sympathy from the accused in case the authorities turn up and question everyone involved. In these moments you can see what a Pete/Dr. Diane Buckley wedded consortium must have been like, sub-levels upon sub-levels (flashback episode?).

Meanwhile, off in never never land, Jackie has failed to score an Iron Man costume for precocious Bert, apparently because she has no idea who Iron Man is nor any idea who Lady Gaga is (which is a shame because I suspect Jackie would dig Lady Gaga and her ability to turn anything into “acceptable” evening wear). Kate to the rescue! She cuts in line at a costume store by posing as the rich stepmom of a couple eager lads (after offering to buy a couple teenage girls booze who decline because they're, like, you know, totally "straight-edge"[which suggests a potentially dire irresponsibility lurking within Kate that I hope is explored]). So now Bert wants Kate to take her trick or treating rather than his mom which leaves Kate flattered and Jackie forlorn, though Jackie schemes her way into the mix. Needless to say, hijinks ensue. Leaving Jackie & Kate in charge of a kid on Beggar’s Night is like putting Laverne & Shirley in charge of a Christmas pageant.

Their trick or treating sojourn ends with a woman mistaking Kate & Jackie for a proud lesbian Mom & Mom of precocious Bert, which is sorta obvious and I only mention because it shines a spotlight on a more subtle and more clever demonstration on how sitcom sexual civics have evolved.

Warren’s Halloween costume is Ellen. As in, Ellen DeGeneres. The script does not do much with this idea, instead focusing (unfortunately) on Warren’s visit to the dentist the same day which renders his enjoyment of candy mute which just feels like the disgusting taffy that – as Kate explains – is handed out at apartments which is why apartments are to be avoided. Nevertheless, if most sitcoms had teenage sons dressing up as Ellen, the entire episode would revolve around insecure fathers having major freak-outs over their sons’ orientations. Not here.

Pete may have a little Col. Nathan Jessup in him, but he’s tolerant too. And we know he’s tolerant because he never bats an eye at his son wanting to dress up like Ellen. Maybe next Halloween, after Jackie does a little research, she’ll let precocious Bert dress up in Lady Gaga’s soda can curler wig? (Not that I dream of forcing my hypothetical children to dress up for Halloween in Lady Gaga’s soda can curler wig.)

2 comments:

Andrew K. said...

The more I think of this episode the more I like it.

There were so many familiar set-ups that felt earned. Hillary giving the boy a "Blow----pop" worked both on the "Is she really?" aspect and the realisation that he WOULD be as upset about her giving away the candy. And the two moms joke is so warm because neither jumps out to say "No, no, we're not GAY!" (Even though Jackie's hilarious cluelessness means she couldn't.)

(I've always found the actual concept of Iron Man a bit wonky, so I'd take Jackie's ironing man - dangerous heat and functional.)

Nick Prigge said...

Yes! The blow pop bit is a perfect description of what this show manages. In the moment I was like: "Ah, that's tired." But when I think about, you're right, it makes perfect sense.

I do sort of wish Bert had had to go as Ironing Man to see what that would have led to.