Friday, September 22, 2017

COMEDY ROUNDUP: 'People of Earth,' 'The Mindy Project,' 'You're the Worst' and 'Broad City' (September 17-23)

Some brief reviews for various comedies from September 17-23, 2017:

TBS' People of Earth - Episode 2.09 "Truth or Dare"
Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 6.02 "A Romantical Decouplement"
FXX's You're the Worst - Episode 4.04 "This Is Just Marketing"
Comedy Central's Broad City - Episode 4.02 "Twaining Day"

Due to time constraints, I'm not able to give every show I watch or regularly cover the proper write-up this week. Of course, I apologize for that. But here are some brief thoughts about several comedies that aired new episodes between September 17 and 23.

People of Earth - "Truth or Dare"
Agent Foster goes to Gina with a personal problem. Richard sues his employer for wrongful termination with the help of the group as character witnesses. Jeff is blackmailed by Eric and Jonathan Walsh offers his support. Written by Samantha McIntyre and directed by Shaka King

On one hand, it feels like "Truth or Dare" is just setting up a bunch of plot developments to be paid off in next week's finale. The aliens are making their plan for when to make their mutiny against Eric. Meanwhile, Gerry is obsessing over everyone coming to his game night while putting the finishing details on whatever project Eric has him working on. Both of these are very ominous teases for the finale. And yet, this episode succeeds when it's focusing on the personal dynamics of these characters. Sure, it's a little lackluster that Jeff is conveniently given a way out of confessing his true feelings to Kurt. But it's still a story that works because of Ken Hall's performance that makes Jeff so worried about what others will think. Meanwhile, it's great to see Richard take charge and fight back to his recent termination at his job. Sure, he's still mean-spirited and doesn't have the appropriate rationale for a sound argument. But he still ultimately wins only to decide he doesn't want that job in the first place. And finally, the most effective story is Agent Foster seeking help from Gina regarding the note that she found in her bag about her family. Those two characters have quickly forged a strong bond. So, it's very emotional to listen as Agent Foster tells Gina "don't you dare leave me right now." Plus, it's rewarding that she's finally able to connect with the sister she didn't even know she had. But will that leave her too distraction for whatever happens in the finale? B+

The Mindy Project - "A Romantical Decouplement"
Mindy and Ben's relationship is put to the test when Ben gets an interview for a job in Philadelphia. Anna gets the girls of the office together for an ill-fated girls' night where Tamra realizes she might have feelings for a co-worker. Written by Lang Fisher and directed by Lang Fisher

Two couples fall apart while another comes together. That's the purpose of this episode. It's surprising how much more invested I am in Jeremy and Anna than the other two pairings. It's surprising because I don't think either of them are multi-dimensional characters. And yet, the longing Anna feels after their breakup as she struggles to get back out there is very moving and significant. Plus, the beat with her trying to carry the bust of Queen Victoria is very amusing. Meanwhile, the Mindy-Ben divorce just seemed inevitable. That was clearly the direction the show was going to take as soon as they got married but Mindy had a worried look on her face. It's fascinating for the show to explore how Mindy loves being married instead of the person she's married to. Ben seems very smart in that regard. But so far, this divorce just seems too easy without a whole lot of passion. That's weird - especially with kids involved. Of course, it's also delightful to see that Leo now has lines. And finally, Tamra and Morgan coming together romantically just feels like the show returning to a story it did previously. It didn't work in the early seasons of the show. And now, the creative team is going there again because it's the final season of the show and they don't have to tell ongoing stories with them. Plus, it still feels like Tamra could do so much better than Morgan. But she's finding him a viable option considering she's trying to get pregnant right now. It's just a little too predictable and lackluster. B-

You're the Worst - "This Is Just Marketing"
Jimmy learns that his literary novel is being marketed as erotica. While doing Vernon's podcast, Gretchen realizes she's been letting Jimmy off easy. When Edgar and Lindsay babysit Tallulah, Lindsay learns for the first time that she's capable of love and Edgar tries a new technique to pick up women. Written by Franklin Hardy & Shane Kosakowski and directed by Tamra Davis

The show is still largely just settling into its new status quo for the season. But it's also abundantly clear that the cast and writers are loving the new situations they are getting to do. It's great that Jimmy is very much against his book being marketed as erotica until he enjoys being catcalled and objectified during the book reading. It's great that Edgar and Lindsay are lusting after each other and not falling in love. The moment where Edgar tests out his new skills on her could be seen as deepening their emotional connection. But it all being a ruse is absolutely the right twist. It allows things to remain fun while still allowing the potential for more should the writers even want to explore that avenue anymore. The fake-out with Lindsay regarding her committing herself to her job more fiercely instead of falling in love with her nice and wanting a baby herself is a little less effective. The audience is always going to be worried about that baby being around these characters. Becca and Vernon have a success podcast. But that doesn't make them great parents. In fact, they are terrible just like everyone else. That shouldn't change. And finally, Gretchen being motivated to move back into Jimmy's house and taking over his bedroom is a brilliant twist that is bound to escalate this personal war even more. I can't wait to see what happens next. B

Broad City - "Twaining Day"
Abbi's brief return to Soulstice gets interesting when she's given the training opportunity that she's always dreamed of. Ilana gets a new job at a restaurant. Written by Paul W. Downs & Lucia Aniello and directed by Lucia Aniello

Abbi and Ilana have had many different, odd jobs over the years. They've also had some consistent jobs as well. This episode is establishing that they are growing up a little bit and moving on to different professional opportunities. The stories are largely separate but very effective as well. It's just a ton of fun to Ilana excel as a waitress for a place managed by RuPaul. She's terrific when it comes to being mean to the customers. She's terrific when she's being supportive to the customers. She sees herself as a person who lifts people up. She's not even aware of how selfish her actions can be a lot of the time. But it still makes for an amusing story. Meanwhile, Abbi spends most of her time reflecting on her past. She has this new job with Wanda Sykes. Sure, it's largely just getting cat food or litter but it's a step up from Soulstice. Her return there forces her to deal with Trey once more. Their romantic connection was such an unexpected but really delightful twist last season. It's great to see that passion is still alive as well. But it's also great that it's Shania Twain who brings them together once more. Of course, she also tears them apart as well. Who knows if the two of them just work as occasional sex buddies. She already seemingly finds a new love interest in the paramedic who comes to take care of Trey's sex injury. But this is just a nice story that perhaps brings more closure to Trey while also having a blast with Shania Twain. B+