Sunday, April 6, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.18: "Couples Therapy"

“You just acknowledged me as your husband. Does that mean we're all made up?”

“Couples Therapy” was a funny, fairly self-contained episode of “Trophy Wife.” Pete apparently has issues with confrontation, which has led to him becoming something of a pathological white liar. This comes to a head when he doesn’t like the chili Kate tried to make. It’s a fairly simple plot, but it was entertaining enough to watch, and I laughed. Entertainment and laughter is really all I ask of a filler episode of a comedy. The comedy of Pete’s situation had the added bonus of further exploring the relationships between all the adult Harrisons. Pete’s lying in general is all fun and games to Kate until she realizes that she has sometimes been the recipient of Pete’s lies. Kate understandably questions why Pete has an easier time talking about these confrontation issues with Diane and Jackie than he does with her.

Pete has had a busy day, so Kate is trying to help out with Warren and Hillary’s western day at school by making chili. She is incredibly proud of her cooking effort, especially since she used two whole types of beans in the chili. When Kate leaves the room, Pete tries the chili, and he completely gags on it. The next day at the western event, Warren and Hillary are selling the chili, and everyone seems to love it. Oh, sidebar, Bert is supposed to be a guy who has had both arms amputated, and as you’d expect, since it’s Bert, it’s rather disgustingly adorable. Anyway, Diane takes a taste of the chili, and she realizes that all is not as it seems. It’s actually Pete’s chili recipe. Diane calls Pete on this, and Pete admits that he actually threw out Kate’s chili and replaced it with his own.

Pete tries to get Diane to back off by saying that he and Kate are in couples therapy. Diane is, for some odd reason, really happy to hear this. She even offers to do post-western day clean-up so that Pete and Kate can make their next therapy appointment. Pete and Kate decide to take advantage of the couples therapy lie to get some time to themselves. They go on a fancy dinner date instead of going to therapy. This comes back to bite them when Jackie stops by with “healing muffins” to say how happy she is as well (seriously…boundaries much?) that Pete and Kate are in therapy. Jackie has spent a fair amount of time in therapy, so she starts asking about who Pete and Kate are seeing. They say “Dr. J from Philadelphia,” which is pretty hilarious if you’re a Philadelphia sports fan. Kate decides to keep milking this lie, and she gets Jackie to agree to watch Bert the next afternoon so that she and Pete can go to tennis lessons.

The B plot in this episode is pretty inconsequential, all told. Meg has broken up with Tevin (again), so she’s spending a lot of time at Pete and Kate’s house. Kate lets Meg spend a “spa day” using the house’s amenities. There’s kind of a competition among the kids for Meg’s attention. Warren has a crush on Meg, Warren just likes attention from adults in general, and Hillary wants to use Meg as a science experiment. Warren and Bert compete with each other over who can be a better “cabana boy” to Meg. Hillary is writing a paper on “extended adolescence” for a psychology class, and she thinks Meg will make the perfect subject. She tries to do a “marshmallow test” on Meg, and Meg starts eating all the marshmallows before she can even explain the test. When Tevin shows up and has a very juvenile conversation with Meg (the upshot of which is that they make up), Hillary is confirmed in her belief that Meg is an extended adolescent. Meg’s not thrilled with Hillary treating her as a science experiment, but she flounces out of Pete and Kate’s house without too much of a care.

Diane and Jackie figure out after the second attempt that Pete and Kate are most likely not going to couples therapy at all. First of all, Pete’s not so messed up that he would need two therapy appointments a week (he’s more of a once-a-week kind of guy, apparently). Then Diane points out that “Dr. J.” is a sports reference, not a new therapist. They figure out pretty quickly that Pete and Kate are at a tennis lesson, and they decide to crash it. Apparently Pete has always wanted to learn how to play tennis, and he idolizes Andre Agassi. Who knew? Anyway, when Diane and Jackie crash the tennis lesson and force Pete to admit the truth about throwing out Kate’s chili, Kate gets very upset. I think she was more upset about the lying than about Pete not liking the chili.

Kate and Pete get into a huge fight over the lying, and Pete ends up driving next to Kate as Kate tries to walk home. It’s kind of funny and sad at the same time. A passerby thinks it’s kind of pervy that Pete is driving by Kate and trying to get her in his car, and it’s pretty hilarious when Kate basically says “the perv is my husband – it’s okay!” Pete finally starts apologizing for all the lying, and he says it’s something that he’s going to work on. Kate eventually forgives him and joins him in the car. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out, if it plays out at all. I haven’t exactly seen a ton of continuity in “Trophy Wife” thus far. I think Kate always questioning if she can trust Pete would be a bit darker than this show may want to go. There are some comedies that aren’t afraid to go dark (like HIMYM with the death of Marshall’s dad or other…developments or “New Girl” with the death of Nick’s dad), but “Trophy Wife” doesn’t strike me as one of them. When “Trophy Wife” goes dark, it’s dark humor (like the death of Pete’s aunt), not complete darkness.

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