Monday, March 10, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.15: "Happy Bert Day"

“I could have been outside playing and running, but instead I was inside reading and eating. And it was all worth it!”

I wouldn’t exactly call “Happy Bert Day” profound television, but it was an enjoyable half hour, and that’s all I really ask of “Trophy Wife.” It’s Bert’s birthday, and all sorts of Harrison family dynamics are at play. There are several subplots going on, but everything takes place in the context of Bert’s birthday. That focus on the one event helped amplify the humor. All of the Harrison family was in one place, and I think the episode was better for it. I don’t think comedies are well served by fractured storytelling, because there are so few minutes in which to tell the story. I also liked that Kate stood up for Jackie with the mean soccer moms at the end of the episode. It shows that while they may all drive each other crazy most of the time, the Harrisons all have each other’s back when the chips are down.

The episode opens with Pete and Kate playing a mildly naughty game of Scrabble, which is interrupted by Bert running through the room screaming. He has read 100 books, and he says that Pete and Jackie promised to do whatever he wanted for his birthday if he met that goal. Pete doesn’t remember this agreement, but when Bert pulls out a contract, Pete and Kate figure he’s probably telling the truth about what happened. It would be very Pete to draw up a contract for a birthday party agreement with his young son, after all. Bert is absolutely thrilled about all this, but I’m not quite sure why. As we see later, his wishlist for his birthday isn’t really all that out there. It’s probably something the Harrisons would have been willing to do even if he hadn’t read 100 books.

We next move to one of Bert’s soccer games, where Pete is coaching and Kate is watching from the sidelines. Kate sees a group of moms all sitting on the blanket, and she decides to try and join them. These women, however, are the mean girls of the soccer mom crowd. One of them deliberately puts her purse on the open spot on the blanket to keep Kate from sitting there. Kate goes back to sitting on the bench, where she is soon joined by Jackie, who is cheering extra loud to make up for being late to the game. She says she’s been really overwhelmed trying to plan Bert’s party¬, and Kate volunteers to take the task off her hands. She thinks that she might be able to use the event to impress the mean soccer moms.

Kate talks to Bert about what he wants to his party, and his biggest ask is to have both chocolate and vanilla ice cream. When Kate presses him, he says maybe he’d like strawberry ice cream, too. This isn’t going to do for Kate’s big impress the soccer moms plan, so she goes a step further, asking Bert about his favorite movie. Bert’s favorite movie is Aladdin (good choice, Bert!), so that is going to be the theme for his party. Kate dresses up in an outfit that looks like it belonged on “I Dream of Jeannie,” just to make the effect complete. Pete is not enjoying the party at all. All the little kids being messy in his house is just stressing him out.

There’s a bit of a problem with the birthday cake. The photo airbrushed on it looks like it would fit more on a Harlequin cover than a kid’s birthday cake. It’s a mistake by the bakery, obviously. Diane and Pete volunteer to go to the bakery and fix the problem. At the bakery, Diane just barges in and cuts to the front of the line, while Pete mumbles and apologizes about Diane not believing any rules apply to her. Diane is pretty obnoxious, I’ll admit. On the way home, Diane gets impatient at an intersection, and she just blows through it, almost causing several accidents. Pete thinks Diane is finally going to get what she deserves when a cop who saw all this pulls them over. Diane plays the “I’m a doctor” card, though, and she says she’s taking Pete to the hospital with a cardiac emergency. What do you know, the trick works, and Diane gets off without a ticket. Back at the house, however, Diane finally gets hers. She slips trying to walk through the door, and the cake smashes into her chest. All the kids then rush at her, wanting to eat. It’s kind of glorious, really.

In other subplot news, Hillary takes a liking to a dancer boy who is at the party (apparently he surfs, too). Warren offers to be Hillary’s wingman, which is kind of the worst idea ever. Warren instead befriends dancer boy, because they have a lot of goofy things in common. Dancer boy even has a locket with his parents’ pictures in it. Warren is worried that a dancer boy/Hillary relationship could jeopardize his new friendship, so he tries telling all sorts of horrible lies to Hillary about dancer boy. Hillary figures out the true story, however, when she sees dancer boy wearing one of Warren’s vests.

The soccer moms arrive at the party, and Kate overhears them criticizing the party. What really upsets her, though, is when one of the mom calls Kate a stripper. In complaining about this to Jackie, Kate learns that the spreader of the stripper rumor is most likely a soccer mom named Fern. Kate corners Fern in the bathroom and goes all scary Swedish model on her. Fern says that she first heard the rumor from Jackie. Kate then confronts Jackie. It turns out that Jackie started the rumor because she too wanted to get in with the soccer mom mean girls. Kate clears up the rumor, and the soccer moms take her in. Kate soon becomes disenchanted with it though, and all the soccer moms want to do is gossip about Jackie. Kate puts a stop to this and kicks the soccer moms out of her house. The whole thing ends with a big dance number featuring Bert, which is, of course, adorable.

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