' Cinema Romantico: Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (The Wedding Part One)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (The Wedding Part One)

As the part one preamble to Kate & Pete's wedding (not marriage, mind you, but an actual wedding), something crucial in regards to "Trophy Wife" and its surprising subtlety dawned on me for the first time - that is, I had never considered the legitimacy of Kate & Pete's marriage. Which is to say, I had never considered if they really were convincing as not only man & wife but as a couple in, for lack of a better term, love. I had not failed to consider this, however, because I simply accepted it per Sitcom Law. Nor did I fail to consider this per trusty Sitcom Denial. I had failed to consider this specifically because the relationship's believability was so subtly plausible and lovingly convincing that I just sort of mentally nodded the first time I saw them and moved on. You know, like when you see Jesse and Celine and you know that if these two were ever to wind up in, say, a pseudo-marriage with two daughters that everything would be hipstery keen and......whoops. NOTHING TO SEE HERE! PLEASE DISPERSE!

When Kate stumbles across Pete’s old wedding videos to Dr. Diane Buckley (Wife #1) and Jackie (Wife #2) and sees the extravagance of each ceremony, she naturally becomes despondent that her and Pete’s ceremony was merely of the civil variety. These old wedding videos also allow for the classic gag of WACKY HAIR! Because it was a DIFFERENT ERA! And in DIFFERENT ERAS people had WACKY HAIR! These are the sorts of jokes “Trophy Wife” is frequently above and yet occasionally still resorts to and which frustrates me but I will allow it if only because at Jackie’s wedding Pete recited his vows by going straight Bangle. We continue.


Sensing and believing in Kate’s desire, Pete re-proposes and the wedding planning begins. This leads to Pete and the Harrison boys wearing kilts because Pete wants to embrace his Scottish heritage which leads to Warren becoming obsessed with Scottish culture and painting his face like the Mel Gibson version of William Wallace which is simply perfect because as a dude who went through a “Braveheart”-obsessive phase too it elicited all sorts of wonderful nostalgia flashbacks, recalling the innocent era before I was made to realize that they can, in fact, take our lives and take our freedom. It also leads to the obligatory maid-of-honor tug-of-war between Meg and Hillary - the former's got the novelty penises, the latter's got the finger sandwiches. Meanwhile, Dr. Diane Buckley decides to go public with her relationship to fellow taskmaster Russ Bradley Morrison and Jackie is more or less forced to tell precocious Bert about her relationship with faux-bagel delivery man Sad Steve.

The real problem emerges when Kate decides to finally change her name in keeping with the wedding bell spirit. Alas, being a Canadian expatriate, a potential name change leads to an INS interview and Kate and Pete become so paranoid that the INS interviewer will take the sitcom’s ironic title to heart and deport her that they go ridiculously overboard in playing up American stereotypes to make it seem as if there is no possible way this could merely be a marriage of money and/or trophies. So Pete dons a fanny pack and the worst polo imaginable and Kate does laundry and references Pete’s “man cave”. They go even further overboard, of course, and eventually everyone in the family bursts into the living room in the midst of the INS interview and, thus, the interviewer deduces that in the face of such commotion and annoyance there is no way this is a marriage of convenience.

My rival re-capper at The AV Club faults this logic by actually employing that term – “seriously faulty logic”. But the point here, I would argue, is not the madcap nature of this everyone-on-the-stage-at-the-same-time conclusion, nor the incident in question swaying the INS interviewer being "logical" within the parameters of "the real world" (because come the eff on), but a gorgeously farcial reminder that Kate and Pete don’t need this sorta sitcom crap to prove they belong together.

Lies giving way to truth, that’s the crux of “The Wedding Part 1.” Because once Warren’s obsession with all things Scottish leads him to over-analyzing the family tree, he learns they are, in fact, not Scottish at all. They are Flemish. Wracked with guilt, he spills the beans to his dad. Pete decides he doesn’t care. He wants to wear a kilt at his wedding. That’s the truth, just like Dr. Diane Buckley & Russ Bradley Morrison's mutual desiccation is the truth and Jackie making Sad Steve Happy is the truth and Kate not being a Trophy Wife but the Woman Pete Loves is the truth. And the truth is that even as Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins remain so routinely comically brilliant on the periphery, it is Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford that cannily give us something to believe in.

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