Monday, May 19, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.21: "Back to School"

“Drinking soda’s so much fun. I feel like my teeth are shrinking!”

And we have reached the penultimate episode of “Trophy wife.” “Back to School” was yet another episode that probably could have functioned as a series finale, yet we have one more episode to go. There was a Bert voice over at the end of this one and everything! We had several school related plots in this episode, hence the title. Pete, Kate, Hillary, and Warren are at a college where Hillary is attending Science Camp, and Kate agrees to accompany Jackie to Jackie’s high school reunion. Back at the Harrison homestead, Bert ends up schooling Meg’s loser boyfriend, Tevin. There are lots of good life lessons happening, and the episode was very feel-good overall.

Hillary is spending a long weekend at a college several hours away for “Science Camp.” Diane, Pete, and Warren are along for the ride, which didn’t quite make sense to me, Once Warren falls asleep in the car, Diane and Pete talk strategy. While Diane gets Hillary settled in at camp, Pete is supposed to get Warren excited about college. Diane wants Warren motivated to study so he doesn’t end up going to some for-profit diploma mill. Before they left on their college expedition, Diane made some very unkind comments to Kate about Kate’s lack of education. Kate, trying to defend herself, says that she actually has her degree (which isn’t true). This feeling of inadequacy will come into play later in the episode.

Kate retreats to what she thinks will be an uneventful weekend watching Bert, but Jackie, as she does, has already invited herself into the Harrison house. Jackie wants Kate to go with her to Jackie’s high school reunion since Sad Steve is unavailable. Kate’s a little reluctant, but when Jackie says she has already lined up a babysitter for Bert, Kate goes with it. When they get to the reunion, Kate is a little surprised that her name tag has the same last name as Jackie’s. Soon it is revealed that Jackie has been telling everyone that Kate is her wife. Jackie explains that she was kind of an outcast in high school, so she came out to seem cool. She says the 90’s were a great time to pretend to be gay. Kate sympathizes with Jackie, so she agrees to go along with the ruse.

Meanwhile, at Science Camp, Hillary starts to experience what it is like to no longer be a big fish in a small pond. I too have learned this lesson over the years, and I have learned that I thrive in the big fish, small pond scenario, so that is what I seek out. Anyway, the Science Camp kids (and Diane…when will Hillary ever start feeling embarrassed by her foolishness!) have an orientation circle where they introduce themselves by naming an academic accomplishment. Hillary goes first and mentions that she had a poem published in the school journal. She starts to feel like a very small fish when her fellow campers say they have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and have given TED talks. For once, Hillary isn’t the smartest kid in the room.

At the reunion, what starts to bother Kate isn’t that she’s pretending to be Jackie’s wife. What bothers her is that Jackie is painting Kate as a stereotypical trophy wife who has no skills other than looking good. This dovetails with Kate feeling insecure about not having her degree earlier in the episode. She even tells some of the people at the reunion that she’s an orthopedic surgeon like Diane. Kate tries to express this to Jackie, remarking that all she does is go to yoga twice a week, but Jackie doesn’t quite get it. It seems like Kate and Jackie are going to either tell everyone the truth or leave the reunion, but neither happens. Kate starts talking to one of the mean girls who gave Jackie a hard time in high school, and the conversation is so unpleasant that Kate is once again on Jackie’s side and wants to make Jackie look cool. They end the reunion by dancing up a storm and making everyone else jealous. I thought that was an interesting resolution to the plot. Kate’s not going back to school to become someone she can admire more. She’s going to try and get more comfortable with who she is.

Back at the college, Pete’s not having especially good luck getting Warren to be enthusiastic about continuing his education. Warren’s enjoyed getting all sorts of college merch, and he thinks that the way you can mix cereals in the cafeteria is cool, but he doesn’t see any of those things as reasons to go to college. He can put chocolate milk on his cereal at home, after all. Pete knows his kids, though, and he takes Warren to the perfect lecture to get Warren interested in college. “From Rambo to Bambi: Violence in Cinema.” Warren thinks this lecture is pretty great, and just as he’s getting enthusiastic about college, Hillary is getting discouraged. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Meanwhile, back at the Harrison ranch, Meg and her ridiculous boyfriend Tevin are Bert’s “babysitters.” The whole thing is a disaster, as you’d expect. Bert invites a friend over, and things just keep going downhill from there. Meg and Kevin really just want to make out or have sex (there’s a funny bit where they just randomly decide they should have a kid), but Bert and his friend keep demanding their attention. Tevin acts like the kids are his new best friends, which is kind of sad, really. He’s actually really getting on Bert’s nerves, though, and Bert (unsuccessfully) begs Meg to get him to leave. There’s a cute bit near the end where Bert voiceovers about moving through different phases of life, and it turns out to be Bert giving a speech to try and convince Tevin to make friends his own age.

Again at college, Hillary is still freaking out about not being the smartest person in the room. She seems completely shaken by the experience. She’s binging on French fries, and it’s not pretty! Warren sits down to eat with Hillary, and he starts giving her what sounds like a pep talk about the smartest, bravest girl he knows. That girl turns out to be Katniss from “Hunger Games,” but it seemed kind of sweet at the time. We learn from the montage that plays along with Bert’s speech to Tevin that Warren and Hillary sort of settle in at college watching a movie on campus. They will be okay. The episode ends with Pete and Kate kicking Meg and Tevin out of their bed, because Meg and Tevin are just gross.

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