Thursday, January 16, 2014

REVIEW: 'Ground Floor' Shakes Up Its Basic Premise During Season 1 Finale - 'The Decision: Part 2'

TBS' Ground Floor - Episode 1.10 The Decision: Part 2

Brody faces a difficult choice between the job he always wanted with Mansfield and the love he never expected with Jenny; Brody tries to come up with a third option; and Threepeat is forced to stay with Harvard after losing his apartment, but he soon discovers Harvard's place in a converted funeral home isn't technically zoned for the living.

All season long, Ground Floor has been about Brody's attempts to balance his romantic relationship with Jenny with his professional relationship with Mansfield. The two-part season finale effectively destroys the basic premise of the show. It's some real emotionally tough stuff and the show handles it so well. The comedy presents Brody's love for both sides of his life right now - his saying "I love you" for the first time to Jenny at the end of the first part as well as playfully with Mansfield on his balcony during the finale.

It's a difficult decision that the show presents Brody with here. He makes his choice to go to Paris with Jenny - because at its core, the first season has been about this love concurring all. And yet, the show doesn't shy away from the consequences that result from such a decision. Mansfield has to fire him even though he loves Brody as his protégé. Mansfield hates having to do that too. Very easily, Mansfield can be seen as the antagonist to this story. Yet, Jeff Astrof, Bill Martin and Mike Schiff's script gives him nuance. John C. McGinley gives that character nuance. He wants Brody by his side and is devastated when he's not there at the plane terminal. Brody doesn't tell Jenny about his firing because she would drag him all the way to the Hong Kong terminal. Because as much as it would make her sad, she just wants him to be happy and stable in his life.

But this big change during the last minute of the finale (well, besides the tag sequence) sets the show up for a wonderful second season. The show really hasn't been about the business operations. They have set up stories there but it's also been told from the perspective of how it effects things with his relationship with Jenny. Ground Floor has been about its characters. And the type of fun they enjoy having. The show was never about classism and how those on the top floor are better than those on the ground. These characters were placed in fun interactions all season long - a good odd couple pairing always being Mansfield and Harvard. It allows for Threepeat and Harvard to live together without it being weird or unrealistic. Taking Brody out of one environment (and possibly making him actual co-workers with Jenny) opens him to so much more character interactions with the rest of the cast. And seeing this collection of characters interacting in fun, interesting and edgy ways was a delight during this season - and hopefully a delight in a season two.

Some more thoughts:
  • The B-story of the finale involves Threepeat and Harvard becoming roommates - which is weird but also brings a lot of levity to the episode. It's odd that the episode closes with that story. But it's also a premise that could bear some interesting fruit in the hypothetical second season.
  • Derrick and Tori never fully came together as characters for me this season. Even though they both had lots of laughs in the finale - with Derrick repeating the stuff to Jenny and Tori thinking her phone stopped taking selfies in Harvard's place.
  • Also, because it needs mentioning, the Forget Paris running gag from the first part of the finale was pretty great.
  • Please, TBS renew this for another season. If for nothing else, than to see Briga Heelan again in such a breakout role.