Infidelity! Car Wrecks! Break-Ups! Deception! All seen in last nights episode of Episodes. Combining genres is a tricky business. And it’s particularly difficult with comedies. Shameless, Parenthood and Nurse Jackie combine comedy and drama with ease. Shaun of the Dead and True Blood combine comedy and horror. And last night, Episodes created a new cross-genre for comedies; Melo-comedy. Sure, comedies usually go over the top with plot points and secondary characters for the sake of a laugh, but the latest episode of Episodes was more of a telenovela than a normal show.
Last week, I wrote about how great that night’s episode was. Subdued, awkward, clever and original. Unfortunately, last night’s episode was the exact opposite. The first seasons of shows are often uneven, but at this point Episodes seems to be two completely separate shows. There’s the funny behind-the-scenes show with Matt LeBlanc; the show that introduced us to crazy studio execs, ex-wives, and slutty costars. The other show is the Sean and Beverly show, and unfortunately, last night’s episode was proof of why this show needs comedy to make it work. When it works, it works well. But there were no funny moments in the whole show last night. No jokes, no awkward moments. Instead, the first five minutes of the show were re-aired from the pilot episode, a fight between Sean and Beverly after she catches him having a conversation with Morning, the ageless female lead of their show, outside. Beverly leaves Sean and in her rage, drives on the wrong side of the road colliding with who else but Matt LeBlanc. Even though LeBlanc was a major part of the episode, it was not the fun, arrogant LeBlanc of last week. Instead, he was just a plot device to move the Beverly storyline forward. And it wasn’t a very interesting storyline.
The Sean and Beverly saga goes like this — Sean was married, then met Beverly, who he cheated on his wife with, then they got married, then they moved to Los Angeles to work on a show neither of them believe in anymore, then Beverly becomes consumed with jealousy over Morning, they fight, then she leaves and ends up sleeping with another man (LeBlanc). Lose interest yet? It’s hard to believe in Sean and Beverly’s relationship when it’s filled with that much deceit. If you’re going to make an episode of a comedy without the comedy, the characters better be interesting enough to keep the audience entertained.
Cheers had an amazing “will they or won’t they” storyline with Sam and Diane. Friends had Ross and Rachel. Even Who’s the Boss had Tony and Angela. The two incredibly important things that all these eventual TV couples had in common are 1) banter that the audience loves and 2) years before they got together. Beverly and Matt LeBlanc have always hated each other, but not in the intense way that makes you think they’ll end up together. They just seemed to really not like each other, fighting over Sean’s attention like they were kids and both throwing wrenches in each others jobs. So when Beverly and LeBlanc end up together at the end of this episode, it feels forced. And as this was only the sixth episode, not enough time has passed with these characters for me to care that they’re together. With one episode of the season left, I’m hoping they focus on what makes the show good, not the fight with Sean and Beverly, or the relationship with her and LeBlanc, but humor. I just hope the finale is funny.
Joey Slamon lives in Los Angeles where she watches lots of television and produces this show.