“The Breakup” is a serviceable episode in which the supporting storylines again elevate the overall episode. Of course, the ‘breakup’ of the title not only refers to Meg and her romantic troubles, but also to her and Kate’s friendship dilemma. The classic friendship breakup storyline is such an overused sitcom trope that it was difficult to go along with the narrative without seeing exactly where we were going to end up. And while I am a huge advocate of Natalie Morales and have been wanting for her to be a more prominent presence on the show, I soon grew tired of her part in this installment. Sadly, she was my least favorite aspect of the entire episode. Though I quite enjoyed her mini-clashes with Hilary, because I think we can all agree that she is the worst. I mean, who finishes a project three weeks before its due date? One made of candy no less, that thing was begging to be devoured.
Despite the predictable storyline, the actors do make the best out of the hackneyed material and have done an adequate job in making these characters feel like real enough people. I don’t know that the writers did a good enough job in establishing the friendship between Meg and Kate, yes we are told that they have been best friends for a long time and know each other well, but there wasn’t enough of an emotional connection established. So when they parted their ways, it didn’t hit the necessary emotional levels for us to really care about the future of this friendship (which, honestly, we knew would be resolved by the end of the episode). Perhaps if this had been a conflict later in the season, the impact of the potential death of the relationship would have been more meaningful. Still, I enjoyed Bradley Whitford’s exasperated manner when dealing with Meg, even when he was attempting to reconcile their conflict.
The B & C storylines, however, were quite magnificent. I praised the Jackie/Bert stuff from last week and am glad that the writers are doing more with that pairing. Their relationship is delightfully weird and heartwarming at the same time, from Jackie attempting to explain dementia to her gleeful son, to their very different ideas of what constitutes “brain food”. I liked how the roles were somewhat reversed from last week and in this episode it was Jackie who was encouraging Bert not to give up on something. Also akin to the previous episode, Warren becomes the go to person when a helping hand is needed. Between last week’s hilarious wonderment of a lame party and this week’s oblivious use of vocabulary words, Ryan Lee’s portrayal of Warren is quickly becoming a consistent source of comedy. His oddball behavior and demeanor are a good foil against his mother’s straight-laced and borderline sociopathic personality. I wish some of his quirkiness could rub off on his sister because Hilary is definitely the least interesting or entertaining character. Her Type A personality takes after her mother’s but lacks any of the dark unsettling undertones that make Diane fun to watch. As a result, Hilary comes off as just another annoying/judgmental teen, which is not particularly funny. I’m not saying that all characters need to posses some kind of peculiar eccentricity (Pete is pretty much a straight man but still manages to be funny most of the time), but they should be likable enough or even unlikable-y funny for us to enjoy their presence on the show. So far, Hilary is neither.
Quotes & Observations:
- “Awesome, or should I say abominably.” Oh Warren.
- “Is it diarrhea?”
- “What kind of maniac makes two grays?”
- Really enjoyed the introduction to Helene, the incredibly passive aggressive next-door neighbor. Pete’s nervous/irritated greeting was really great.
- “Oh yeah, I’ll just go to the freakin store and get a new curry-infused mustard from my cousin.” I really hated almost everything to do with Meg and Tevin’s breakup/relationship, but that line did crack me up a little bit. The weird details always get to me.
- “My client’s claim is that the fish were dead before he disposed of the tetra-cyanide in the lake.”
- “Did you just pull me aside? First of all, no one pulls me aside, I pull people aside.”
- “It required communicating with Jackie, hello. You could be an animal trainer.”