' Cinema Romantico: Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Russ Bradley Morrison)

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Russ Bradley Morrison)

The latest episode of “Trophy Wife” may be named after one person, but it is all about collaborations, two people working together (or two people together and not working). It divides neatly into three separate storylines by pairing off its characters, and by doing so it ably demonstrates which of the untraditional family’s children is most influenced by which of the untraditional family’s parent.

Storyline #1 involves a parent-chaperoned children’s outing to a local museum. Pete is supposed to chaperone with Dr. Diane Buckley, but he falls ill. Thus, Kate, played by Malin Akerman in a pair of form-fitting red and black pants so scorching I almost want to center my entire recap around them (“Malin Akerman’s pants, a fetch rosewood with rip-roaring, oddly-angled swabs of black, transcend HD, igniting the TV in a fireball of fashion, roasting hapless male eyes like chestnuts), goes in his stead. This leads to Kate and Warren (“I’ve been saving my allowance to buy something at the gift shop”) to decide the best way to get Dr. Diane Buckley off their backs is to ensure she “get some”. Thus, their museum expedition revolves less around museum-y things, and more around finding the hardline Diane a date.


Enter: Russ Bradley Morrison. Played by Dennis Haysbert, he is a fellow chaperone, intensely formal and on point. His job, he explains, is mergers and acquisitions and you can practically see him happily attending business junkets, getting a kick out of continental breakfast and staying up late to re-read the C.E.O’s mission statement for fun. It could have been far too obvious, his and Diane’s similarities, but Haysbert crafts a perfectly-pressed character with just the right amount of starch.

Meanwhile, our old friend Jackie is tasked with aiding Pete in his hour of need, playing a whimsically demented Kathy Bates to his hapless James Caan. Lord, it pains me to say it, as much I tout Michaela Watkins’ genius, but this is far and away the weakest of the three tales. It’s like a bad horror movie seen through the eyes of a man overdosed on codeine, shopworn gags and punchlines aplenty. You don’t pigeonhole Jackie in a horror movie that’s already been written, you imagine a horror movie as written by Jackie. It shouldn’t be a bad horror movie in a suburban haunted house. It should be a bad horror movie in a suburban house turned hippie commune.

Meanwhile, precocious Bert has been banned from recess at school for being too excited – dancing in class and performing Bertwheels – and he enlists the aid of Hillary seeing as how she was once the teacher’s pet of his current teacher. They bake cupcakes. Practice fawning compliments. And Hillary turns up in class to put in a good word. It generally backfires, but not completely, and ends with Hillary achieving the upper hand simply by demanding and taking it.

And so the lines are drawn….from Hillary back to Dr. Diane Buckley, from Bert back to Jackie, and, strangely but wonderfully, from Warren to Kate. Kate seems capable of getting through to Warren because they are simultaneously working on the same level of maturity without realizing it. On the surface Dr. Diane Buckley is all about rigid discipline and smart planmaking, but what she’s really about is full-on control and sitting at the top off the food chain. (She's also got a wild streak that only appears when she wants it to, suggesting so much by showing so little.) No doubt she would have publicly dismissed her daughter’s actions, while privately commending them. And Jackie……well, you can’t tell me Bert didn’t learn to do his Bertwheels from watching Jackie do her Jackiesaults.

Oh. Right. Pete. Well, Pete is probably lucky he doesn’t fall ill more often.

1 comment:

Andrew K. said...

Catching up (slowly).

This was a weird episode and the Jackie arc was indeed the weakest. I think the problem is less Jackie and more the writers not knowing what to do with Pete which is unsurprising (the women alone are fun enough) but worrying (he's a good actor) so they sort of just threw Jackie into this a bit oddly.

I do love Kate's pairing with Warren, they work well together. Good observation.