Mr. Sunshine Recap: “Heather’s Sister”

I’m sure I sound like a broken record at this point — a broken record of a song that you barely tolerated in the first place — but it must be said that Mr. Sunshine should probably be retitled The Allison Janney Program and feature her character as the lead. To that end, the big problem with last night’s episode was that it needed more Janney. Instead, someone on the writing staff decided it was time to really flesh out the back story of bananacakes assistant, Heather. Now that character is more fleshed out than [insert famous fat person], and she also has a crazy sister.

The unspoken assumption at the beginning of this episode is that when Roman committed arson on that golf cart last week, he got demoted, causing Heather to remain in her role as Ben’s assistant. Which is weird. Even though Ben is too frightened by rumors that Heather once lit a person on fire to give her his real phone number, he still keeps her around as his assistant, and even though Roman actually physically lit a golfcart on fire, he is kept around as well, albeit in a demoted capacity. Aspiring writers take note: this is what’s known as “foregrounding your sitcom within a bedrock of reality.”

The main thrust of this episode is Heather’s attempt to set Ben up romantically with her sister, Stephanie (Lindsay Sloane), but while this is going on, other shenanigans are afoot. The heretofore nonentity Alonzo (James Lesure) had a big role in two separate storylines this week. First, her majesty Allison Janney’s Crystal taps him to squire around her Yorkie in a dog show taking place at the Sunshine Arena. Former NBA player Alonzo takes the chore in stride and agrees to walk Admiral Horatio Nelson Ticklefight down the runway. (I’m assuming this dog is already hot off of winning the prestigious Best Pet Name Ever Awards.) The second storyline Alonzo is involved in means agreeing to help his office romance, Alice, get revenge on her high school rival by showboating what awesome former NBA playing man-candy he is at a fancy dinner. Can you guess whether this revenge attempt goes according to plan?

Meanwhile, psycho Heather, who is revealed to have a signed picture of the Unabomber on her desk, tricks her boss Ben into going on a date with her sister by promising him that he’s going to the restaurant to meet Tony Hawk. Even though, Ben is quickly creeped out by the way the sister, Stephanie, agrees with everything he says, somehow he gets roped into going on a double date with her, accompanied by Heather and Roman. Here is where the back story kicks in — the reason Ben plays along on this date is because he learns that Heather is way overprotective of her sister and the person she set on fire is Stephanie’s ex-boyfriend. Sure! Perfectly reasonable back story, as well as fore story!

So to point out everything unrealistic that happens on this Sodom and Gomorrah of a double date would be an exercise in pointlessness. I do realize this is a television program we’re talking about here, and a network one at that. But holy crap, there should be some termination notices and police callings in the works here, and that sister character didn’t even make sense. Like, it’s revealed that she was only agreeing with Ben on everything so that he would like her more, but she thought everything he was saying was awful? And this before he was being awful on purpose (“I live with my mom. We cuddle a lot”) to try and get rid of her? That’s a very crazy brand of crazy!

After Stephanie blows up with a rant against basically everyone at the dinner table, Heather stands up for them all in a way that really impresses Ben. He is finally comfortable giving the confirmed arsonist his actual telephone number. All doesn’t end so well for the other main characters, though, as Alice’s revenge plan blows up in her face. While she is escorting her high school rival over to meet beefcake BF, Alonzo, he is in the middle of fighting with Crystal over who gets the honor of escorting the Admiral Horatio Nelson Ticklefight through the final round of the dog show, since apparently, post-NBA, he now craves the attention that only a dog show can provide. Not a good look! Anyway, now that we know so very much about Heather, and a little more about Alonzo, here’s hoping that next week we get a Crystal-centric episode. Who is she? What are her secrets? Will she ever convince Alonzo and Ben to re-enact scenes from Lethal Weapon?

Joe Berkowitz edits books and writes stuff. He also has a Tumblr.

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