When we last caught up with the Brinkleys, they were preoccupied with maintaining their coolness. On this week's "Up All Night," Chris starts to wonder where sexy went and tries to persuade Reagan to bring it back.
The latest episode centers around what seems to be an indisputable fact of family life: babies are tiny, evil sex vampires. Just like cats steal your breath, babies sap your will to do the nasty. Chris begins to realize this when he makes Reagan a romantic dinner (gnocchi - nature's most powerful aphrodisiac), which fails to get her in the mood but succeeds in getting her to shed her work clothes. Unfortunately, as has become the norm, she slips into the much too comfortable "charity walk sweatpants" that just don't do it for Chris.
When new parents inevitably hit this kind of sexy plateau, the responsibility for keeping things hot always seems to fall on the woman. I'm not trying to make a feminist statement here; it's just the way things usually are. Perhaps it's because men are more visual that they not only like their wives and girlfriends to want sex but to also look like they want sex. Or perhaps it's that a lot of men don't see themselves as sexy beings or know how to present themselves in a sexy (not cheesy) way. So, the guy who's whining about his wife wearing ice cream-stained pajama pants every night is often the same unshaven guy playing video games in a wife-beater and nasty gym shorts. Well, "Up All Night" takes a jab at that "double standard" in a sly way. Chris wants Reagan to dress sexier, but while she never asks the same from him, he is the one who is sort of "objectified" through most of the episode. (And I have no complaints there.)
Being a nice guy (a part Will Arnett plays beautifully despite its placement well outside of his creepy dickhead wheelhouse), Chris doesn't want to come right out and complain about his wife's newfound frumpiness, so he seeks the advice of mellow fellow dad Reed (SNL's Will Forte). Reed, the previously unseen surfer dude Chris befriended in the pilot, occasionally spouts Spanish and uses terms like "shame spiral," which is all it really takes to be deemed "a good dude" (and super-cool) in Chris's eyes.
Reed encourages Chris to lead by example if he ever hopes to escape "sweatpants purgatory"—specifically, swap out his oversized tee for a form-fitting deep-vee and his smiley-face boxers for Swedish briefs made by Bjorn Borg. On a lesser show (like, oh, let's say "Two and a Half Men"), the scene where Chris and Reed stand in the living room assessing each other's bodies and high-fiving with their pants around their ankles would be just another lame set-up for a gay joke. But here, with Forte playing the genuine and kind teacher to Arnett's earnest but clueless student, the emotions are just right, saving the show from being plunged into the dark sitcom cliché abyss. (Like the guy wearing the $3,000 undies is gonna go dive into an abyss. Come on!)
While Chris is cooking up spicy ideas at home, Reagan is having a terrible day at work. When Ava discovers that her ex-fiancé, former boy-bander B-Ro (The Lonely Island's Jorma Taccone), is getting married, she goes on a studio-trashing rampage before focusing her anger on Reagan, whom she blames for their breakup. As it turns out, Ava and B-Ro had a dysfunctional Bobby and Whitney-style relationship, filled with the highest highs (a hit duet, "Basically," a hilarious Color Me Badd-ish ode to sexual settling) and lowest lows (lots of cheating and several well-publicized sidewalk scuffles), but Ava still ignores Reagan's insistence that B-Ro was all wrong for her.
Reagan returns home to find Chris (who's forgotten part two of Reed's plan: "keep the body tight and the message subtle"), bending over (and over) in his tight jeans and using baby Amy as a bicep-building tool. She quickly figures out what her husband is getting at and the two have an uncomfortable conversation that ends in Reagan giving Chris the dreaded "pray hands" and disappearing to the bedroom to mull over Chris's "helpful advice."
The next day, Reagan strides into the kitchen in an evening gown, sarcastically announcing, "It feels so good to be fancy first thing in the morning." This is where the story falls a little flat for me, as Reagan's response isn't really that funny or relevant to the argument. There's a big difference between fancy and sexy, and Reagan must understand which one Chris wants her to be. Since we already got a Kelly Bundy flashback (within an Ava/B-Ro flashback), perhaps the better make-Chris-uncomfortable move would have been to give the hair a good teasing and go into full-on hypersexual slut mode? I can't stop wondering if Will Arnett has ever gone through this with his real-life wife, Amy Poehler, and how she would have reacted. (WWAD?) Mainly because I spend an unhealthy amount of time wondering what it would be like to live with those two. I'm really not sure who I have the bigger crush on. Oh, to live in a world where Amy, Will and I are all swingers (or Mormons, I guess) and they know that I exist. Aaannnywaaay...
Ava helps wrap up both stories by 1) meeting up with B-Ro to discover that he hasn't changed at all and 2) hooking Reagan up with a sexy red thong. Although I generally like Maya Rudolph, I haven't been sold on the character of Ava until now. I'm not sure I love her yet, but I do like her. When she can distance herself from the hot mess that is her own life, she is a great friend to Reagan, and like any talk show host worth her salt, dishes out some sage advice. In this case, it's that Chris is "one of the good ones." That much is obvious, but Chris drives that point home with a sweet slideshow of how his life would suck without Reagan. My guess? They have sex after it fades to black.
* There were a lot more laugh-out-loud moments last week, but we got Will Arnett out of his pants this time around, so you know, it's all good.
* Making young Reagan look like Kelly Bundy was a great sight gag. I can only hope that Chris pulls out some old polaroids of his days as a magician.
* I hope they don't start to lean too heavily on them, but so far I'm loving all of the random late-'80s and '90s references. The Lisa Stansfield mention cracked me up, but I'm sure it won't be funny two weeks from now when I still have "All Around the World" stuck in my head.
* The Brothers Solomon reunited! And cheers to you two other people who saw that movie!
* If a man sent me a flower arrangement shaped like a dog with a card that read, "I Woof You," I would never fight with him and I'd pretty much wear anything he wanted me to wear. Seriously.
* The lyrics to "Basically" are pretty fantastic. Check out the video here: