Episode 3: The Date
Marc: Are you AG? I just want to make sure. You can never be too careful these days. If I had waited until the end of the review to ask, something may have happened. Comment below that you’re AG so I know you’re all good. Phew, that’s a relief. I just want to make sure you didn’t slip in your bathtub.
VL: AG here! Thanks for checking. I’ll text you in 30 minutes to double check.
So Stuart’s enrolled in a yoga class. Stuart likes yoga? No, he likes ladies in yoga pants. Unfortunately, they don’t like him. It’s only behind the smoothie bar that Stuart finds someone who won’t recoil at his gaze. After some coercion, Stuart does his usual thing trying to be suave. Except this time he has a problem; it’s working! For all his awkwardness, this girl actually likes him! As it turns out, Stuart can talk to ladies but he doesn’t know what to do after that. Deep in unfamiliar territory, namely, with a girl who’ll smile at him, he hits the self destruct button because he’s paranoid about her texting through their second date.
Meanwhile, Jessica has her own problems. After running into an old acquaintance, Amelia, at her acting workshop, she’s reminded that her acting career hasn’t gone as far as she’d hoped. With a spur of motivation Jessica decides to get herself an audition for something more substantial than her web series. Except she has a problem; it works! She gets an audition for a tampon commercial, something she feels is beneath her despite the excellent pay. So Jessica decides to try out, but coincidentally her audition takes place right next to Amelia’s audition for a Scorsese movie! Unable to deter her pride, she hits her own self-destruct button because she doesn’t want to seem so lowly as to be a commercial.
VL: Can I just say that I hate Amelia? I’ve known so many women like her – really, they remind me more of little girls than women – and they never make you feel good about anything. I hate you, Amelia.
Marc: In case it wasn’t clear there are some parallels between their stories. Both have aspirations and anxieties that they can’t seem to get a handle on which only make things worse when something good comes along. In short, they need to get their heads out of their asses. They’re both trying to sell themselves and even if it’s for different reasons, they fail the same way. I’m of the belief that anyone can do anything with reasonable boundaries. However, “anything” may require years of practice, training, or plain natural talent. Neither one of these people are willing to recognize that the thing they lack is the proper insight and understanding that you can’t just walk into something and expect a handout. When you finally scrape together even a morsel of what you want you have to hold firm, but be gentle enough that you don’t accidentally crush it. Even when Stuart goes out with somebody who might actually like him, he will find a way to reject them at the first hint he has to work at it. Even when Jessica finds herself in a position most actors would kill to be in, she doesn’t see it as enough for her. For both of them it’s because all they see is awful people doing better than them. Stuart doesn’t realize what he could have. Jessica doesn’t realize what she wants. What that means is that they aren’t idiots. They’re fools. An idiot is someone who lacks a certain comprehension of actions and consequences. There’s also a certain amount of cynicism to it as well. The guys from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” are idiots. The fool is someone naive enough to think that something which might otherwise be stupid can work. There’s always a sense of optimism in what they’re doing. Stuart and Jessica are fools.
VL: Basically, everything you said, I agree with. Stuart is becoming nothing less than a shallow, pathetic male. He had a good thing going with Annie if he had just tried to be less…. Stuart-ish. He didn’t want to pay for a nice dinner and kept intimidating the waiter over prices, then freaks out when Annie doesn’t immediately reply to his texts. I don’t blame Annie one bit for getting pissed at Stuart spying on her and reading her text messages, then accusing her of seeing someone else when it was just her brother who had leukemia. What the heck, Stuart? What the heck. And Jessica… It may be below my level of decency, but $50,000 for a commercial? Yeah, I’d embarrass myself a bit. Plus commercial actresses get picked up for other, bigger, better things all the time. In short: two pathetic adults who are nothing more than fools. Glenn Frey’s “You Belong to the City” at the end made this episode much better.
Episode 4: The Dinner
It’s movie night for Wade and Stuart, and Wade has picked the movie, “Sense and Sensibility.” Stuart is less than thrilled, which I see as a pretty typical “guy” reaction. Jessica walks in wearing a cocktail dress and announces she and the girls are going to Hades, a gay bar. Stuart is immediately interested in why these women want to go: “Attractive women prefer gay clubs so there’s not a bunch of guys there competing to get our numbers.” But what does Stuart hear? “No competition for the hot ladies!”
Amelia, of course, is “one of the girls” and starts putting Jessica down as soon as they see each other. Stuart is off being stupid while Jessica is trying to worm her way into a dinner party hosted by Margo, who throws only the best most amazing fantastic awesome dinner parties in the history of ever. Politely, Margo relents and agrees that Jessica can come to the party. Meanwhile, Stuart learns that gay men get to touch and kiss and fawn over all the hot women, and that one of the guys runs a modeling agency. Stuart instantly wants to be best friends with Mr. Modeling Agency, but no luck. Jessica and Stuart head home.
Stuart thinks that a $12.99 bottle of wine is the perfect gift for Margo’s super ultra amazing posh party, but really? No. No forever. Wade comes over and Stuart explains his dire need to attend this party and not have movie night. Poor Wade. He always gets the bad end of the deal. They arrive at the party and Stuart immediately starts kissing cheeks with the gay guys in hopes of getting access to that mysterious modeling agency. Then there’s this horribly awkward toast that Stuart makes – it’s cringeworthy.
Dinner is full of polite conversation about “Vanity Fair” and Jessica and Amelia debate over who is the more unknown actress to try and get into the “Vanities” section, which is written by dinner party guest Armand. Of course, Stuart has to crush the happy party mood by talking about a guy from high school that killed himself because of bullying. Yep, that’s how you have a good time right there. Stuart goes to the bathroom to study up on gay jokes while Amelia mocks Jessica even more relentlessly (have I mentioned that I hate Amelia?).
I want to cry for Jessica so much right now because she needs some good friends who aren’t so pathetic and shallow. She begs Stuart to compliment her, and Stuart begs her to set him up for his jokes. Oh goodness, this could only go badly. So Stuart asks Mr. Modeling Agency (Mr. MA) to set him up with a model because it’s Stuart. What else can we expect? So Stuart goes through all the pictures on Mr. MA’s phone while Amelia prattles on about how amazing she is then begins to sing from “West Side Story.” It’s not that great, but everyone freaks out. These people are killing me. And because Amelia showed up, Jessica must now do the same. She tries to tap dance but it’s one of the worst things ever. EVER.
Wade invites Kives over for understood insanity and shenanigans that will teach Stuart a lesson. Said lesson includes photographs of manly parts, mayonnaise in the lotion bottle, and playing around with Stuart’s “To Do” list. As they are playing on his computer, they find Stuart’s life goals list. It’s so sad and so sweet at the same time. Kives and Wade feel a bit bad for the jokes after that.
After the Great Tap Dance Fiasco of 2013, the dinner party retires to the hot tub. Stuart and Jessica invite everyone over for dinner one night, and they agree to come. Then Stuart begins to joke-banter with on the gay guys and I’m already cringing again. This isn’t going to end well… Anyway, his gay jokes eventually become pretty offensive and the night is ruined. The hole he is digging for himself just gets deeper and deeper until he hits China, and Jessica and he are asked to leave. Dinner Party: 1, Stuart & Jessica: -100.
The key moment in the episode wasn’t at the dinner party or the gay club; it was when Kives and Wade stumbled upon that life goal list. Stuart’s life wishes are so simple: get married, have kids, feel love reciprocated. Things we all want. In the end, Stuart only wants love, but he has no idea how to get, or, as we saw with Annie, how to keep it. Jessica is so confused in her world, too; she wants to be noticed and appreciated as an actress, but the people surrounding her only push her down and make things worse. The greatest tragedy of Jessica’s story is herself because she keeps putting herself in these situations. She wants to be validated by shallow people (her “friends) who make up so much of today’s world, and she doesn’t realize that she is a great person. Moral of the story: you don’t need other people to make you feel good about yourself.
Marc: Honestly I found this episode so completely and abysmally awkward that I had to look away. I averted my eyes more times here than during most horror movies. But then, isn’t “life” the scariest movie of them all?
VL: Agreed. This episode was light on the funny and heavy on the awful and awkward moments that can abound in real life. Let’s hope for a bit more humor in the next few weeks. Until then, dear readers.
Co-written by Marc Price and VL Vanderveer.