' Cinema Romantico: Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (The Minutes)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife (The Minutes)

I confess, I may not have been the intended demographic for the latest episode of “Trophy Wife.” This is because “The Minutes” turns into a half-“Scandal” homage and I have not seen a single second of a single “Scandal” episode (unless Tina Fey and Amy Poehler dramatically saying “Scandal” at the Golden Globes counts). So, when the episode inevitably deviates from its “Trophy Wife”-ness to go straight “Scandal”, I had nothing to go on, nothing to gauge it against. For all I know, it was exactly like “Scandal”, though the attempts a rat-a-tat-tat dialogue seemed a little less potent than might be required. For me, it evoked memories of Harry Crumb and Nikki Downing, and I’m not certain whether that’s good or bad. Should it matter that I haven’t seen “Scandal”?


For instance, I never saw (and still haven’t seen) a single second of a single “Melrose Place” episode and yet one of my 127 favorite “Seinfeld” episodes is the legendary “Melrose Place” episode. I remember hearing about the latter all the time, and I remember it always being referred to as a “guilty pleasure”. It was something people loved to watch but didn’t necessarily admit they loved to watch because it seemed so trashy. And that’s what “Seinfeld” played to, and they played to because it was universal. We all have things we love but don’t want to admit to, don’t we? So rather than act as a straight homage, it featured Jerry denying that he watched “Melrose Place” – even though he loved it – and being forced to take a lie detector test by his policewoman girlfriend to determine the truth. It’s incredible. It’s hilarious. And it didn’t matter one iota if you didn’t know what “Melrose Place” was or who was in it because “Seinfeld” effortlessly made it relatable to everyone. That’s why “Seinfeld” was and still is the greatest.

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INT. POLICE HEADQUARTERS – DAY 

NICK PRIGGE, infamous anti-Reality TV activist has been hooked up to a lie detector. A grizzly DETECTIVE stands above him. 

DETECTIVE: “Nick, have you ever watched Reality TV?” 
NICK: “No.” 
DETECTIVE: “Nick? (Clears throat.) Have you ever watched Reality TV?” 
NICK: (sweating) “No.” 
DETECTIVE: “Nick. (Dramatic pause.) Have you ever watched…… (Even more dramatic pause) ……‘Temptation Island?’” 
NICK: (Breaks down crying.) “Fine! FINE!!! I watched the first season of ‘Temptation Island!’ You wanna know why?! Because Reality TV is lewd and disgusting and EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH SOCIETY and ‘Temptation Island’ was the lewdest and most disgusting and EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH SOCIETY reality show of 'em all! And I loved it! Okay?! Are you happy?! I! Loved! It!" 
DETECTIVE: "And who was your favorite?" 
NICK: "Mandy! Mandy was totally my favorite! Yes, I remember her name!" (Falls to floor, writhing in a pool of his own tears.) 

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This isn’t to suggest “The Minutes” is an eyesore for any non-“Scandal” fanatic. Marcia Gay Harden is too good, first playing up the part of a binge-watching “Scandal” fanatic and then showing Kate how to play dirty when Kate runs afoul of the PTA and finds that her inflammatory comments about Harden’s Dr. Diane Buckley behind Dr. Diane Buckley’s back have officially been entered into The Minutes. (Scandal!!!). The idea of a PTA-related Scandal!!! is simply irresistible, but the means by which the Scandal!!! erupts – Person A saying things about Person B without Person B present only for Person A to realize Person B might hear them after all – and the follow-up – having to do with a PTA mom’s devotion to the sport of squash – come across so much less than juicy. And I suppose that’s partly the point – that in the world of the PTA, a Scandal!!! would be less than juicy. But shouldn’t it still feel juicy in spite of its non-juiciness? Like, to a bunch of PTA moms this Scandal!!! is as skandalouz as the Scandal!!! shown during the commercial for “Scandal” in the midst of “Trophy Wife” where some dude puts his hand around Kerry Washington’s throat and says “You killed the President” (Scandal!!!). I dunno. It just seems to me that aside from Marcia Gay Harden, everyone is playing Kerry Washington dress-up. It’s a cutesy homage, an aw-shucks, gee-whiz, “we’re family friendly!” scandal, and it doesn’t do much to invite non-“Scandal” watchers into the proceedings.

And the episode’s biggest problem is that the “Scandal” homage runs counter to the tale of Hillary wanting to go to the semi-formal dance with a boy who is the son of the neighbors with whom Pete and Jackie have a long-running feud involving a garden hose. There is a hint of potential Scandal!!! here involving the feud but that mostly gets ignored to instead build to a moment of fatherly heroism on account of Pete. It’s rather sweet but at odds with the other half of the episode. So too is Warren’s woebegone quest to get in on the Ask-A-Celebrity-To-The-Dance-Via-The-Internet craze by asking Vanessa Hudgens to the semi-formal by pretending to be gravely ill a misfire on a potential Scandal!!! I mean, if you’re gonna go for the fellow-ABC-drama gusto then, you know, go for it. “Trophy Wife” doesn’t quite go for it. So let’s all just watch this instead.....

 

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