So Much Better Than Cheesy Garlic Bread
Phil’s description of his new Valentine’s Day activity suits this episode just fine! Sure I’ve complained about the couples-focused format, and sure I’ve lauded this show every week it’s been on, but the truth is that I’ve worried it’s been slipping in the last few episodes. Moon Landing was great, but it wasn’t no Fizbo! This week’s episode was back in business, and it reclaimed its brilliance with – ironically for me – a return to the couple’s focused format against which I’ve tended to rail.
Of course, the return to this format is totally appropriate for the Valentine’s Day episode! Furthermore, it’s hilarity was heightened by the non-couple relationships I’ve longed to and much enjoyed seeing developed. But it was really fun to catch a glimpse of Jay and Gloria facing the truth only to get tired of the laughter. And while I tend to think that Mitchell and Cam are the most solid, healthy couple on the show, it was good to see a little tension between them tonight play out at an ice-cream parlour as they tried to help Manny learn that the universe really isn’t a cold and loveless place (that blonde kid had nothing on his earlier love-interest, the amazing Kristen Schaal!).
But the story that captured my heart (and probably the hearts of all married folks) was Claire and Phil attempting to re-kindle the sexiness in their own 15+ year marriage. First, I loved that Phil was inspired to leave that cheesy garlic bread behind by his daughter’s messed up but endearingly stupid boyfriend, Dylan! And I loved that he had multiple role-plays ready to go (who wouldn’t want to see his tiger training in action?!). Their barside flirtations were actually lovely as they both got their groove back and Phil – sorry, Clive Dicksby – offered line after line of hilarity: “Pretty kitty has nails…I like it”… “I get things to make noise”… “I’m pretty smooth all over” and of course, “She’s always tired…she can make lists for days” were among my favourites. But I have to give the prize to the very smooth jackpot line he makes in his do-over attempt to explain why he’s hitting on this strange lady at the bar instead of going home to his wife – “Because I respect her too much to do to her what I’m going to do to you”…complete with it’s own awkward question mark on the end. For a brief moment, I was almost attracted to Phil. At least I understood why Claire rushed to the restroom to remove every article of clothing she had on!
Of course we could see some version of her subsequent embarrassment coming. But for her father to show up (in addition to their colleagues, friends and local school-teachers) was 3 steps beyond excruciating. Avoiding the schmaltzy voiceover this week, we got to have the moment of sweetness enter through storytelling instead as Claire was forced to bond with her step-mother (who had been through this before) and Jay was forced to recognize that his (mother of three) daughter is also a sexual being.
And perhaps this is one of the more lovely aspects of this family – this collection of slightly messed up adults really tries to accept each other and love each other as adults, in the fullness of who they are.
Perhaps what is even more lovely though is that even after the terrible experience on the escalator, Phil and Claire apparently still made it to the room and did something messy with hot oil. You go Dunphys!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one more great line in the episode: “While bathing her last week I found traces of Martin Luther King behind her ear”. Seriously, how does little Lilly manage to match everyone else with her amazing acting skills? That baby’s got talent!
Posted by Natalie.