' Cinema Romantico: Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Foxed Lunch)

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (Foxed Lunch)

“That definitely wasn’t worth it.” – Pete Harrison 

Do you know what made “The Cosby Show” in which Theo gets the earring he wasn’t supposed to get so memorable? Well, it was the dueling Marxish attempts of Theo to evade detection and Cliff to detect, sure, but ultimately it swung on how Cliff received comeuppance from his own father for piercing his ear way back when upon reprimanding Theo. It wasn’t to put the parent in his place, mind you, but a gentle reminder that all parents were once kids and amusing evidence that even parents can still learn lessons. 


“Foxed Lunch” is a parent-centric episode, though the kids still factor in mightily, their presence nimbly demonstrating how moms and dads want to live up to their image in their kid’s eyes while also imparting wisdom and proving to themselves that they still got it (whatever “it” may be). When Jackie pitches her latest harebrained scheme (“I’m, like, six for ninety-three”), Kate, quizzically, is onboard. She doesn’t merely want to write Jackie a check (“In the reference line, write ‘taxes’”), she wants to help Jackie create healthy, pretty-to-look-at boxed lunches for kids – “foxed lunches”. Never mind that she can’t even scrounge up a decent lunch for Warren most days – she wants to prove she can fix fifty foxed lunches. She wants to prove that she cut in the real world. She wants to prove she can work an actual job. After all, she has a marketing degree once she finishes those last three credits.

But Kate also wants to prove her self-worth to the ever-dubious Dr. Diane Buckley. The one-time silver medal swimmer from Seoul, Diane has become track-training partner to Hillary, and the sight of mother and daughter in matching track suits and jogging with matching breathing patterns is guaranteed for convulsions of laughter. Diane, however, assumes her level of fitness still matches a teenager’s, and when she finds out it doesn’t, her Diane-ness (and Olympian-ness) kicks in. She can’t appear as a failure in the eyes of her daughter, and she can’t appear as a failure in her own eyes, and so she winds up proving that pushing it to the limit can sometimes result in debilitation and leg spasms.

The third subplot, strangely, is both the most hackneyed and the most awesome. It is hackneyed because since the sitcom’s dawn, it has routinely turned to the setting of karate class when interested in exploring what constitutes manliness – just, you know, in a wacky fashion. And “Trophy Wife” jaunting off to karate class gets wacky. They go so far as to cast Rob Corddry in the role of Sensei. Corddry is an actor whose mean-spirited hysterics frustrate me but whose more recently glimpsed soft side (see: “In A World”…, “Butter”) pleases me. Here, however, he is all mean-spirited hysterics, preaching “fight, fight, fight!” over talking it out. This runs contradictory to Pete, irritated that Warren and precocious Bert are learning the wrong way to deal with their problems, and so he enrolls in karate class to show what’s-what.

This is Bradley Whitford’s best episode yet, over-basking in Dad Pride for preaching the virtues of being non-confrontational, and then letting a different version of Dad Pride get the best of him when he decides to accept the Sensei’s ultimate challenge. The punchline is Pete attempting to break a brick, which is a given, but what works is the follow-up punchline, Pete grasping his broken hand and claiming, “That was definitely not worth it” (see: above).

Kate and Jackies lunch service was definitely not worth it. Dr. Diane Buckley’s attempts to match her daughter’s need for speed definitely were not worth it. Pete’s desperation to stand up to a tyrannical Sensei was definitely not worth it. Parents are always right. Except when they're not.

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