Season 7, Episode 2: The Wedding

Let me guess, Larry will have difficulty reaching the church, and he won’t get to hump on time, right? Is there any other possible wedding story?

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Oh, right, nevermind, this is fine. This is fine!

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We open to find that Larry has managed to buy himself another cherry Ford (previously a mid-60s Mustang; now a ‘73), and that it is currently hurtling Larry towards his destiny “somewhere between Chicago and Lake Whitefish”. I assume this must be near Mt. Whitefish, based on the “watch for falling corpses” sign they pass.

Who’s driving? Oh my god Balki is driving! How can that be?

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Note the major reversal, even this early in the season. Redshift to blueshift underscores the fact that Balki is capably driving in the middle of the night, meeting Larry’s schedule; but Larry himself is so unaware of vehicular demands that he opens up the road map in Balki’s face.

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Or at least that’s what the joke is supposed to be. Linn-Baker doesn’t open the map all the way and has to lean over to obscure Bronson’s view. Balki chews out Larry for making sure his car has common safety items that everyone is supposed to own.

The Cousins are soon pulled over by a State Trooper and instead of, you know, Balki failing to recite the alphabet backwards, he shoves the map in Larry’s face.

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State Trooper Chips Badgeman tells them they were driving so far under the speed limit that even daily Mary Worth strips were outpacing them.

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Balki blames Cousin Larry, Larry explains that they are cousins and the audience laughs. I don’t know, I guess I had to be there!

Larry mistakes Badgeman for a woman and gives him the exposition: he’s getting married at the Westridge Country Inn, and if he doesn’t get there by eight sharp, he’ll miss the gangland murder in the parking lot. Larry asks if Badgeman wants to see them do the skis bit from season 2 and he says they just need to drive faster. Badgeman reminds them that only first-cousin marriage is illegal in Illinois and wishes them a happy life together.

Then, because they’ve never done the bit where they change places in the front seat of the car, they change places in the front seat of the car. Between this and the misfired map joke, I have to wonder what restrictions the actors–or the director–think they’re operating under. Why not have Larry open the map all the way and have trouble closing it? Could they only afford the one and didn’t want to risk crumpling it if the first take wasn’t perfect? Obviously they can’t pan out without risking the camera capturing the fuse box on the far wall of the darkened studio, but would they even need to for the Cousins to get out and change places? Trading places (cough SYMBOLISM cough cough) this way is not even necessary for the gag where Balki moves the seat up and smushes Larry.

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Larry cranks the car but Balki does that bullshit you only get in sitcoms where no one can say what they’re trying to say immediately–

Balki: O dearest and nearest Cousin, I think it might prove salutary to your–of course I mean our–shared goals if you would consider my timely insight on the misguided–well, I pause here, as I am equally bound by standards of honesty and of compassion in equal measure, so I suppose it’s more correct to say ill-informed–choice of behavior which I ascertain you are on the very verge of undertaking. To wit, I humbly submit that you…

–you know, instead of just saying “it’s in reverse!” so Larry won’t talk over him.

Larry tells him to shut the fuck up until he’s ready to mangle the best man speech, cranks the car he must drive nearly every day, and blueshifts rearward, backing right up onto that (heh) motor unit.

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I’ve really got to stop comparing this show to the real world, because I just wrote and deleted 300 words on how backup lights were included on every Mustang model starting in 1966. I’ll go the wacky humor route instead and say that Badgeman wasn’t paying attention because he was masturbating.

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Then Badgeman, having hooked his detached headlight mechanism up to some power source, walks back up to the driver’s side door.

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Mt. Whitefish may be fictional, but at least they did use get a real exterior shot in the town of Police Station, Illinois. The high-quality Hulu rips continue to pay off as we see that one of the crew left some lighting equipment visible in the background of the shot.

Larry is talking to Jennifer on the phone, who is (SCREAMING) upset that Larry is not there.

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I’d talk about what they’re talking about, but let’s talk about the fact that they’re talking instead. Oh My Lord knows I’ve been dutifully tossing out memories of field trips to the zoo to make room for Balki asking if Misty Meanor was someone Larry went to school with. I’ve done so for the length of two Stephen King books now and it’s nice to take a little break sometimes.

A word on wisdom: a lot of the cultural set of “knowledge” we pass around on the internet doesn’t go as deep as it was meant to. Schrödinger’s Cat, f’rinstance: it’s not meant to state any particular truth of how the world works. Schrödinger was making light of a theoretical article written by Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen. After that point the Wikipedia article stopped making sense to me, but the point is that Schrödinger was rejecting the very idea he’s now remembered for. Or the Bechdel Test! We all love to say whether movies pass the Bechdel test. It’s been trotted out so often in the past 30 years that there are honestly-intended critiques of its single-dimension nature by people who simply see others using it and don’t realize what the purpose of it was for. The Bechdel Test was a joke, too: a measure so simple and mere that the vast majority of movies scored zero.  Obviously passing the Bechdel Test doesn’t necessarily give you strong female characters, and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama is my go-to when I need proof of that (it passes in the second scene!).

I cited Kurt Vonnegut’s wisdom two weeks ago that every line must reveal character or advance the story. I need to qualify that, because this scene does both and still has absolutely no reason to be here. It’s essentially a circular-panning-shot across the characters’ remaining personality traits: Balki smiles and drools, Larry cries, Jennifer is upset, and Mary Anne quietly listens while Balki talks.

I wondered for a minute if maybe we wouldn’t see a chapel set because they built a police station set instead. Full House did parts of this story earlier in 1991, and offered scenes in a jail and a chapel. But that show had a bigger budget, so it’s a toss-up at this point in the episode whether we’re here for the rest of the runtime. You can exhale that bated breath now, because here’s my gripe: show, if you’ve decided that the problem situation happens outside the chapel, you have to make it worth the time. Of course Larry would call his hushing bride, of course she would be angry about it and have to bail him out, of course Balki doesn’t give a shit about the delay, and of course Mary Anne is so dumb she thinks petty theft is when someone steals from Nascar. But that could all have been established in 30 seconds instead of two minutes. It’s not as though we’re even halfway through this one yet and “need” any sort of recap.

Also, they’ve obviously also paid for a wedding dress for Jennifer; would it have been that hard to cut to her and Mary Anne standing at a phone? Even Mary Anne worrying that Balki in prisoner stripes would clash with her floral pattern would be a better joke than “Balki eats ice cream”. Where in the hand-churned fuck did he get ice cream at 5 in the goddam morning?

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Police Chief Exact Midpoint Between John Lithgow And Carroll O’Connor shows up and says he needs extras for a lineup; Balki jumps all over the opportunity to keep Melanie off-screen until the third act. Larry offers a perfectly reasonable explanation of why he can’t volunteer, so Chief O’Midpoint drags them back to the lineup room.

Balki shoves Larry’s head against the wall and finds out that Larry has been lying about his height.

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Rudy, an unsupervised prisoner, wanders in and you can tell he’s tough because his camouflage pants signal that he’s not at all worried about being seen by predators or enemies. He’s well-spoken and polite and that joke was certainly funny the first dozen times I saw it. Larry is unsettled by the idea that the self may actually be mutable (see Season 6’s “Black Widow”).

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The winner of ABC’s Perfect Strangers Cousin Larry Lookalike Contest (sponsored by Dow Brands) walks in and we get a long pause so home viewers will hear the laughter and finally look up from plucking the pili multigemini from their stomachs to see what’s going on.

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Balki ponders being spitroasted.

I actually did enjoy his line here: “This is like looking in a mirror if Cousin Larry was standing in front of it.” Larry asks if the grieving mother can hurry the fuck up and identify her child’s murderer.

The woman says “the one with the curly hair and no upper lip” is the guy. She fingers Larry, and I bet I could use that for a funny joke somewhere.

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Now that I’m finally watching these in surroundpixel, I can see that Mark Lip-Faker really doesn’t have a prominent upper vermillion. He’s almost turtly enough for the Turtle Club! He tries to prove his innocence with open shows of physical aggression towards Balki and the Lookalarry. Other Larry did it: other he.

Balki confirms that they were alternately balls deep in each other up until about 3:30 AM that morning, it’s all on the clipboard. Chief O’Plotpoint fingers Balki (gotta figure out how to use that) as a getaway driver and books them both.

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Balki gets excited that he’s going to be arrested and maybe even meet some of the criminals he has Wanted posters of, which is a reference to “Crimebusters” that I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I did writing it.

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Later, at the exact same goddam place, Mary Anne (Sagittarius) rushes in and hugs Balki through the bars, telling him that she’ll wait for him as long as she has to. It’s a very moving scene, really. Midnight Express got nothing on this!

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Speaking of a breast, it’s the only way these characters can ever stand, so Larry must pull Balki away from the bars in order to speak to Mary Anne. He asks her where Jennifer is, Mary Anne says she doesn’t know, and then Jennifer walks in. If only all life’s mysteries could be solved so quickly!

Poor Mark Linn-Baker. He does the best he can with what the writers and other actors give him. But thanks to three separate camera angles, it’s obvious he can still reach Jennifer even after contorting his body to make it look like he can’t.

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Jennifer says she believes in signs, and somehow every other thing that Larry has done every single day of their relationship didn’t signify, but the one time–the ONE TIME–it’s legitimately outside his control, she decides it means she should leave him. But over the past half-hour she’s “given this a lot of thought” and has decided to stay in Iowa and run her family’s corn-canning business, which I’m sure is much better than the airline promotion that would let her move to California for lots of money and good weather.

Larry promises that he’ll mourn the death of their love by continuing to masturbate to her for a year and a day. Jennifer says she’ll think of him when she watches “America’s Most Wanted”. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 90s like I did, know this: it was not a show about criminals who were already captured.

Mary Anne is in disbelief over Jennifer’s decision, but instead of hearing what she has to say, the camera switches to the cousins so we’re spared having to think that they might be real people. I don’t give a shit what the Cousins talk about, because the show is teasing an actual story about Jill Ramirez that I can’t figure out because the graffiti aren’t fully in the shot.

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Actually, the Cousins don’t talk about anything after all. Balki, surmising that Larry will soon hang himself with All the Noose That Fits if left to his own dark thoughts, takes the opportunity to shout at Jennifer.

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He accuses Jennifer of quitting as soon as things don’t go according to plan, just like we’ve seen her do in… well, let’s see… he must be remembering a future episode where Jennifer acts like Larry. He tells them to make furniture polish out of the lemons life has handed them (it really does give you a better high, especially when injected into the anal membranes).

Then the show simultaneously remembers and forgets that Balki grew up on a farm as he scolds her for “throwing the baby out with the trough water”.

Then… then I fast-forwarded through the next twenty Balki-isms.

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Poor Rebeca Arthur. She took the role of Mary Anne because she seemed like a more interesting character than Jennifer. She still is, whenever they bother to give her good lines. But she’s been lately reduced to spouting not only Balki’s cultural traditions, but Jennifer’s past as well. Here, she pipes up to remind Jennifer that her parents sold off the Lyons A-maize-ing Corn corn cannery* and moved to Florida, which would have happened sometime in the last two weeks, given that Mr. Lyons was still two years away from retirement in “See You in September”. They couldn’t fucking wait a month to see their daughter married before moving?

If you get a chance, remind me who the dumb one is.

Larry and Jennifer have a heart-to-heart about changing their plans by pushing the wedding back, you know, all of two hours, or however long it takes the cops to search the blue Mustang and not find any dead one-off characters from season 6. When Larry doesn’t know what to do to resolve his dilemma, Balki tells him to know what it is he wants and “go for it”.

Larry kisses Balki deeply, the way he has always wanted to, his hands a flurry, desperate to touch every hole simultaneously.

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Later, we find that we don’t actually get a chapel set, and the only characters we get to see are Jennifer and Mary Anne. I want to be clear: I am 100% okay with this wedding taking place in the one-room jailhouse. I haven’t seen this done before, it’s decent storytelling for Larry and Jennifer to be encouraged to tap into their feelings for one another as a way to overcome obstacles to their lives. Hell, you could even look at it as them having to accept that Balki is going to fuck up whatever they try to do for the rest of their lives, but that he’s still a useful enough idiot to keep around, and that effectively sets the stage for the rest of this season. I look forward to the episode where Balki mixes up Jennifer’s birth control pills with a roll of Smarties but saves the day with an ancient Myposian abortion ritual (which Larry then fucks up by yanking the parsley back out of Jennifer’s vagina).

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I had some model cars as a kid called “Weird-Ohs” which featured way-out groovy monsters in their souped-up rods. Straight “monster” stuff usually doesn’t appeal to me, but these were more in the Garbage Pail Kids vein of there being something inherently wrong with the characters. Their vehicles followed suit, coughing out nuts, belts, pistons–everything you’d think was crucial–as they sped on their horrible way.** Full House and ALF both operated this way, with breaks in their show’s logic happening nearly every minute, yet still barrelling along, with the progression of scenes still making sense. How did the Tanners manage to get entire cars into their backyard without so much as a walkway leading from the street to the rear of the house? How does Alf write scripts for a soap opera and get them aired the same week? I guess this show managed to stay out of that whole realm of problems because not much logic is involved in rolling comatose obese men around in the first place; but Season 7 Perfect Strangers has fully entered the territory of higher-level functionality with constant practical issues.

Jennifer arrived at Police Station having made the decision to leave Larry; thus we must assume that she traveled back to Lake Whitefish for her wedding dress, told the entirety of their two families that the wedding would take place at the jail, and then none of them came back with her.

I have no expectation that any of the actors who played Elaine, Billy, George Walter Appleton, Katherine Lyons, or Mr. Lyons, would have kept their same phone numbers after appearing on this show. But I do expect that between them the two families shelled out a small Larry’s fortune for airfare, car rentals, hotels, bridesmaid and groomsman outfits, a band, catering, and chapel rental (not to mention the time they took off work). If this show is willing to tell me that Balki has never seen Wayne Newton before, then it should be fine telling me that a group of people standing in the background for two minutes are the eight siblings Larry has made reference to for six fucking years. Larry can’t be any more embarrassed with them seeing him in a jail cell than knowing he’s in one, and I’d imagine he’d even be proud to show off how his wedding has more deep symbolism of true love than all their empty couplings combined.

Or forget the family; argue that the wedding was planned and executed so quickly that the families couldn’t make it. Where the fuck are Lydia and Gorpley? They’ll show up just to see Balki’s cousin talk in a stock accent, or to see heads of state croak. Lydia should be barging in, exclaiming about how the new dress she bought is wasted on the assorted lipless inbred Appletons and trying to lure the cops into a little bit of search and seizure, if you know what I mean. You’d think Gorpley would blow a truck driver just to get photos of the Cousins in jail!

Rudy plays Wagner’s “Treulich geführt” on the harmonica and the women are allowed back in.

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God Rebeca Arthur is cute. Jennifer’s there too.

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There’s no flower girl throwing counterfeit bills, but the officers wearing boutonnières is a nice touch. And major props to the props department for the lived-in feel of the office with those governmental posters that no one ever pays any attention to.

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Balki has Reverend Gus on the phone, and all of the wedding guests are at Lake Whitefish gathered around the speakerphone, every one of them complaining about what a fuckup Larry is. When Rudy and Carbon Larry hold hands, Balki tells them to sit down and it’s the only line delivery I’ve ever seen Bronson do on this show where he’s being neither zany nor sappy. It’s jarring in how normal and human it is.

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Balki starts repeating the wedding script from the Book of Common Prayer and Jesus turns over in his clouds as Balki gets every single line of it wrong. Balki finally tells Gus to fuck off so he can do it “the Myposian way”.

Jennifer: We don’t have to fuck sheep, do we?

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Evidently the Myposian Way involves forgetting that about 80 people are trying to hear through the phone you’ve left dangling by your ankles. The Appleton siblings are going to share beating the shit out of Larry when they see him again.

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The Myposian wedding ceremony isn’t that much different from everything else you’ve ever seen happen at a wedding. The groom and bride put rings on each others’ fings and say some scripted vows. Jennifer repeating “Cousin, I give you this ring” made me laugh in a way the writers definitely didn’t intend.

Larry: I promise to keep you pregnant, I promise to risk your health by making you toil in the fields during each pregnancy, and I promise to offer your paps to the orphans of the village until they are dried grey dugs, but I won’t mind because ewes reach sexual maturity in less than 18 months so I’ll never lack.

Nah, j/k, Larry doesn’t say any of that shit, but there is a line in there about chewing Jennifer’s food when she loses her teeth. Not only are we to believe that, despite Balki being the best cow and goat milker on Mypos, its people lack calcium in their diet; but moreover that Mypos has not yet invented knives and forks, much less pots to cook soup in and mash down the vegetables and meat, making it possible to extend the lifespans of those who would otherwise die when they lose their teeth.

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The other good laugh I got out of this episode is when Balki instructs them to tell each other how they feel and Larry, caught up in the moment, says “I feel really good”. Lines like that are enough to make me believe that Larry Appleton still is a real person with real emotions and not someone who’s willing to verbally abuse his cousin any time he wants the last Cheez-It.

But because being entirely in the moment is a thing that all religions and strains of spirituality warn against (seriously, check your Bible), Balki smacks him upside the head, punches him in the gut, wrestles him to the ground and has one ear half torn off in his teeth before the other prisoners pull him off.

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When Larry hesitates to tell Jennifer about how much of a hardon she gives him before she even knows what one is, Balki pulls the “I know you don’t have a plan…” stuff again.

Psychology sidebar: Boy, do I ever hate this shit. First impressions can be influenced by a lot of things, but they tend to be stable. People get one idea about you into their heads and interpret everything about you through that filter, telling you in some way or another that you are a certain way forever. It’s part self-fulfilling prophecy and part transactional analysis: if you treat someone as though they are a particular way, they’ll respond that way; and deciding that someone is a particular way determines what kinds of things you’ll try to talk to them about. Hell, there’s elements of cognitive dissonance and motivated reasoning here when it comes to overcoming someone’s initial opinion of your behavior. Changing someone’s opinion of you could be a master class in psychology all on its own. At its core, though, opinions we form are susceptible to the Fundamental Attribution Error: that whatever we see someone do, we automatically think it’s a result of their personality and not the situation they find themselves in.*** Personality is pretty stable, but so is the fact that the social situation we find ourselves in has lots more to do with how we react to (especially novel) situations.

What I’m getting at here is that, yes, Larry has definitely earned Balki thinking of him this way after making them practice what they’d do in emergencies like one of them dropping a napkin on the floor. If Larry had stammered, patted his pockets, frantically asked Balki where his prepared vows were, I’d get it. But Larry is a published writer who probably puts a lot of thought into choosing his words, so Balki can fuck right off with that. Stuff like getting somewhere on time is okay to plan. How much fucking planning did it take to get the police boutonnières and crowd two families into the Reverend’s cramped church office?

The music comes on and Larry tells Jennifer how little he deserves her and how much he loves her.

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Poor Melanie Wilson. Jennifer has her own moment of not knowing what to say, but it’s played as a joke at Larry’s expense. Hundreds of places to stick a meta-joke and you put it here, where we might have gotten another glimpse into her personality. I couldn’t even find a good place to slip in a reference to Genesis 2:24 because it doesn’t apply: Balki won’t even let the couple have this moment to themselves, placing his hands over theirs and calling himself the “official giver of the vows” and telling them how he feels about them. Which, you know, isn’t a vow, but what do I know, I’m single.

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If that one image isn’t symbolic of “I’ll never leave you in peace” I don’t know what it is.

During his “vows”, Balki claims to have never had a sister Yana who made him a tapestry of the history of Mypos, and then takes some cheap shots at both Cousin Larry and Cousin Jennifer. Can’t anybody pretend for just two seconds that Larry will have a decent life?

Balki gets down on one knee and, holding the cell bars, does the only physical comedy he can in that tight space, which is toss his head and pump his crotch. The audience “gets it” and laughs.

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Sharon, you may want to cover Piper’s eyes for this next scene, it’s pretty explicit!

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Larry Appletwin speaks up, having waited this whole fucking time to confess to building a chair out of Tess Holland’s bones.

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Jennifer and Larry run out of the Police Station police station. Jennifer throws the bouquet and Mary Anne catch it aerious.

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Bronson donated some of his favorite shoes for this scene.****

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Cousins Larry and Jennifer, having procured neither marriage license nor Reverend’s blessing, drive off to commit adultery in the eyes of yours, mine, and everybody’s favorite god, Jesus. As they head towards their future of losing carburetors, brake pads, and lubricants, one question remains: how many ways can one show come up with to keep a wife character out of the story?

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Poor Bronson Pinchot. Just, you know, in general.

Join me next week for “This New House”!

______________________________________________

Catchphrase count: Balki (2); Larry (1)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0)

Unreleased Larryoke Countdown #29: Don’t it Make My Red Car Blue? – Crystal Gayle

*What color do you think their niblets were?

**Fellow blogger Philip J Reed similarly refers to this phenomenon as the “wheels falling off”, which just goes to show that great minds are a terrible thing to waste on sitcoms.

***It truly is automatic! Check out Heidi Grant Halvorson’s No One Understands You and What to Do About It for more information

****Look closely and you might see one of Beth’s!

7 thoughts on “Season 7, Episode 2: The Wedding

  1. Piper’s eyes! They are scorched!

    (Piper’s a 3rd kid. Whereas we told her oldest sister that “SpongeBob SquarePants” is a show for older people and would not allow her to watch, Piper has managed to catch every episode of “The Good Place,” several “Brooklyn 99″s, and, I don’t know, “Die Hard.”)

    That throwaway Iowa corn canning factory line just….come on, show. As a television connoisseur from Iowa named Sharon, I kept running count in my head of 1. characters named Sharon* and 2. Shows or characters from Iowa.**
    This is the only time it’s mentioned, and of COURSE it’s a corn joke. Because Iowa! Corn! Ha ha! That’s all we have here!

    *Chris Elliot’s mom on “Get a Life.” Victor Newman’s daughter-in-law on “The Young and the Restless.” Paul Buchman’s never-seen sister on “Get a Life.”

    **”Double Trouble,” which is one of those identical-twin shows, was set in Des Moines for its first season. Then it moved to New York City, because of course it did.

    Like

      • I just realized that I said Paul Buchman was on “Get a Life” when I, of course, meant “Mad About You.”

        I wonder if anyone is hate watching that right now?

        Like

        • Have you ever read the Wheel of Time fantasy series of novels? There are a type of assassins in those books–the grey men–who, as they had no souls, were hard to detect by anybody. Even if you were to look directly at one, your gaze would slide right past them and not register their presence. That’s kind of how I feel about Mad About You. I could never focus on it when it was on TV, and I can’t even manage to think about it for very long. Every time I look it up on Wikipedia, it continues to just be described as “two people are married” and my brain slips right past it.

          There appears to be an ongoing podcast with the low-hanging-fruit title “Mad About Mad About You”.

          Like

      • Oh absolutely.
        Although the “Double Trouble” twins were played by actual twins, not the same actress, as is the “Patty Duke Show” or “Liv and Maddie” model.

        Like

  2. Of the Bechdel Test, I like to point out that I can name about a dozen mainstream heterosexual pornographic movies which pass it, while, technically, The Vagina Monologues does not. (Not that it’s a bad test or anything, but people very quickly lost track of what it was actually good for, thinking of it as a “is this movie gender-equitable” rather than “How low do we need to set the bar for female representation before movies start clearing it”)

    Like

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