Season 3, Episode 5: Your Cheatin’ Heart

Chronicles 3:5

We open at the Chicago Chronicle, and I think this facade clarifies some of my feelings about this season so far.  We aren’t shown the top of the building, leading me to wonder what this paper’s relationship is to the Chicago Tribune, or the Chicago Sun-Times.  Is this the tallest building in the city? We know also that the cousins work in the basement–but how far down does it go?  What are the true dimensions of our new setting? And what, moreover, are the dimensions of our characters?  We’ve seen some growth this season… the incremental movement towards Larry’s dreams, the knowing wink on the Balki-isms, Larry trusting Balki to take care of his own issues, actually managing to go to dinner with Jennifer and Mary Anne. But what depths have yet to be plumbed–and how far down might they go?  We are given limited views of exteriors, and this repeated opening shot troubles me, because it’s not the exterior that corresponds to the interiors we are shown.

Why is McRaven like a writing desk?

Here, in the interior, we find a state of disrepair: the “j”, “k”, and “.” no longer wor  on Larry’s typewriter  Not only that:


Larry says that he will have to use the typewriter on a higher floor and ta es off up the stairs  You have to remember,  ids, this was the 1980s: once set down in a place of wor , typewriters would create a magnetic bond with the earth reaching down to its exact center  They simply couldn’t be moved

Bal i responds with reason #2 why seasons 3-8 will likely never be released on DVD:

howzbout shaking it around a little

Bal i mashes the elevator button repeatedly while singing “Barbara Ann” and sha ing his imaginary tits around  Then the real tits come down in the elevator

oh no no no

It’s Harriette and  ennifer!  Continuing her role of being a forceful blac woman, Harriette demands to be given exposition for why Bal i and  ennifer have been snea ing around for “the past three days”

Bal i,  ennifer, and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) have teamed together to buy Larry a “Wellington 4000” typewriter, whose main feature is “feather-touch control”  It’s actually funny how Bal i switches voices when saying “feather-touch control” because you can tell that it’s probably referencing how someone on a television commercial would say it, but then that’s followed up by Bal i saying “bummer” and the audience ust loses it  Those wac y foreigners and the zany way they acquire language, am I right?

Anyways,  ennifer has been all over the city and can’t find a Wellington 4000 that’s within their budget  Luc ily, Harriette is able to point them to a guy named Malcolm who can get them a good deal on one  (Insert your own “blac  mar et”  o e here )  Wait a second, though, I thought Bal i  new how to fix things?  Can’t he, idunno, hoo  up Larry’s old typewriter to a newer one and then sell that to a blac  guy?

No sooner do I start to get racist than the show does it too   ennifer starts to tal  shit about guys who wor  out of alleyways, but before she can finish, Larry’s bac !  That was quic , so I guess he’s still writing two-sentence articles

Evidently  ennifer has been giving Larry the same bullshit story for the past three days about putting ads in the classifieds for her sewing machine, her water pic , and now her toaster oven  Then  ennifer leaves via the Hyrule exit

hey! listen!

O ay, fine, she’s in cahoots with Bal i, and it’s probably becoming obvious to some of you by now where this episode is going, but why conspire in the place Larry wor s? Girl was downright luc y Larry was gone when she got there, but how did the other two days go? Did she  ust show up, tal about her classified ad, and then wait silently until Larry left so she could develop a game plan with Bal i?

Larry wal s over to Bal i’s mail table and says that he can “see right through her”




Larry says he  nows what’s up– ennifer’s got a bad case of “the Larries”

don't be ridiculous

Bal i: Are the Larries anything li e the Willies?

(attn Philip   Reed)

But Larry’s ta ing  ennifer to dinner that night, and he plans to pull out not one, not two, but ALL the stops! He’s ta ing her to a restaurant with waiters!  O ay, I laughed at that one, but ust for a second until they  illed it with a Bal i  o e

christmas balki

Later, bac  at the apartment,  ennifer shows up, and what the hell, woman? Mary Anne may wear your outfits sometimes, but she’s not dumb enough to wear all of them at once  So why are you dressing li e shit for an actual date with the one guy in Chicago who’s willing to overloo  the fact that you have no personality?

Oh, no, wait, newsflash:  ennifer’s empty-handed because she hates bargaining!  She doesn’t necessarily li e men with muscles, she li es a little belly on a man, she  eeps her closets organized, and she hates bargaining! But because it’s the last night of some sale somewhere, she and Bal i have to act fast to get that Wellington 4000 (with feather-touch control), so she blows off Larry with a story about some special flight that she’ll be a stewardess on  Even though “I have to wor  a flight” is basically something she’s said 500 times on this show already, we get a full minute of the show establishing that she’s a really bad liar  She leaves, signalling to Bal i to meet her downstairs in 5 minutes

Meanwhile, Larry is left deciding which exterior to use to cover his disgusting, bloated torso

so farBalki and Larry share a sickening moment

Bal i tries to cover for  ennifer’s lie under the guise of supporting Larry, but since it’s been long established that there is no disconnect between his interior and exterior, he becomes visibly sic   Larry starts saying how much he appreciates Bal i’s emotional support; Bal i tries to leave for a movie; Larry wants to come along; Bal i then must pretend he wants to stay home and tries to get Larry to go to the movies


Larry hangs his coat (remember this, this is important); Larry says he wants to “tal  it out”  Then Bal i gets super-shitty about it!

Balki and Larry share a tense moment

Bal i: I give, give, give until I’m blue in the head  But you want more  Well, let me tell you something, Buster, I have no more to give

the one time

Damn, Bal i!  The one time Larry is actually being vulnerable and wanting to have sex with you without any game-playing! THE ONE TIME

the caldwell

The Caldwell: nighttime

balki and unidentified female

ennifer and Bal i return, gushing about what a great deal they got  And, despite every time two characters have successfully pretended to whisper with others a mere foot away, tal ing at a normal volume in the hallway sounds li e shouting inside the apartment  You may have heard the hypothesis that the universe is shaped similar to a saddle (or a potata chip); I’d li e to posit here that the shape of a 1980s sitcom is basically that of the United States Capitol rotunda, where (legend has it) you could stand in one spot and eavesdrop on everyone in the room

Larry is rotund, THAT'S for sure

We spend roughly 5 minutes of  ennifer and Bal i spewing vague statements that WE understand refer to the typewriter, but that Larry will assume means that they had sex

Jennifer Lyons

And here’s where everything  ust completely brea s down, because the show is fuc ing around with characterization right now

Bac  in February, when I reviewed “Snow Way to Treat a Lady”, co-conspirators Mar  Moore and Sarah Portland commented that Larry was a doofus for telling Bal i that he planned on lying to  ennifer so he could try to do a gorilla turn right into her bomb hole  This show has been inconsistent with whether Larry has learned anything about how Bal i’s going to act in any given situation, and really, he should  now better than to thin  that Bal i would go after  ennifer  We haven’t seen Creepy Bal i since, what, “Trouble in Paradise”? So it’s not based on that  And  ennifer?  Well, loo  bac  up at that list of 3 and a half tidbits of characterization

Let’s do a little experiment, shall we? Let’s try to write some slashfic

It was a Thursday  Thursday when new comics day is, so I had bought new Spider-Man and I was loo ing forward to reading it over lunch (I couldn’t read it under lunch! Where do I come up with them?)  I was sorting mail, sending pac ages and letters to all the big toupees that wor  the newspaper business, hoping I do it good enough to ma e Mr Gorpley not frown at me so much  I started thin ing about how maybe I ma e nice dingdingmahmoud for Mr  Gorpley when elevator go dingding instead and out come  ennifer  She wal  over my mail table with same loo  in her eyes what Olivia Crawford have, but this time Bal i not disturbed  Larry was off on assignment for report on big story, so Bal i have basement all to Bal i self  ennifer stand in front my mail table  She have nice lips, not li e Cousin Larry, who have no lips  On Mypos we have saying: big in the lips, good birthing hips   ennifer’s beautiful lips part and she spea  at Bal i:

ennifer: —

scared Larry

For what it’s worth, Cousin Larry’s reaction does come from his interior: having had next to nothing of his own his entire life, he’s faced with the newest in an endless series of things that will be ta en from him  Not only that, but he’s facing a lac  of control in both his wor  life (no typewriter) and personal (can’t  eep a woman interested in him)  (What’s more: Larry’s interior and exterior have always had a troubled relationship  Larry is driven by a fear that some flaw in his interior will show in his exterior, and he simply applies fixes from the wrong direction ) Bal i, on the other hand, has made a small shift to being only external  In “Snow Way to Treat a Lady”, Bal i’s criticism of Larry’s falsehoods were rooted in his upbringing on Mypos  Here, we simply  now that Bal i doesn’t lie, but it’s by dint of him being the guy without hangups  The part he plays here doesn’t have to have a different cultural bac ground; he  ust needs to be the second guy in the room

But  ennifer!  She’s so entirely exterior that it was her choice of clothing when she showed up for a dinner date that struc  me as odd

Oh, shit, this episode’s still going  Where were we? Oh yeah, Larry fears that soon he will no longer have access to either  ennifer OR Bal i’s holes  We get the guitar riff, signalling that shit’s about to go down right after the commercial brea

Third Location

Soon, Cousin Larry stops by what is li ely the most necessary third location–  ennifer and Mary Anne’s apartment!  And here we see character development done right: Mary Anne has a poodle, the poodle wears bows, she compliments Larry’s robe, there’s a director’s chair in the bac ground, which I instantly turned into a lost dream of being a Hollywood star  Mary Anne–our second character with a severe interior/exterior disconnect–seems more a complete person than Bal i or  ennifer  She may be so dumb that she opted against buying a purebred French poodle lest she have to learn another language, but she also sporadically offers deep psychological insights  This disconnect drives everything else about her  Her interior inaccessible, what can she do but focus on ma eup, tans, bows, and robes? What can she do but loo  to the very planet’s exterior for self- nowledge, introducing herself as Mary Anne (Sagittarius)?


Let’s try another experiment, shall we?

Mary Anne opened the door, hesitating on the threshold  It wasn’t that the room, or the act of entering it, were new to her; after all, she had been here many times before, usually to borrow outfits  Every now and then  ennifer would buy such pretty outfits, and Mary Anne would try them on one by one until she found the ones–usually the purple or pin  ones–she li ed the most   ennifer would always yell at her later for leaving the clothes strewn all over the bed, but no matter how she tried, Mary Anne could never find the right words to apologize  But now, in the doorway, in the middle of the night, faint light from the  itchen outlining the slight curves of  ennifer’s body under the sheet, Mary Anne hesitated  She wanted to try on an outfit, a new one, a pin  one, but she hesitated  Would she once again leave the room–or her roommate–in disarray?

“Mary Anne, for the last time, this isn’t–”

Mary Anne approached the bed  “I  now, it’s not my room,” she said, placing her hand on  ennifer’s hip, “but I want to come in “

Would the right words come this time? Mary Anne spo e, and hoped for the best: “What,” she breathed, “do you want?”

ennifer turned toward Mary Anne and opened her mouth


Larry tries to tell her the “bad news” about where Bal i’s been po ing his por , but Mary Anne is first confused, and then disbelieving

Larry: An affair, a tryst, a liaison

Mary Anne: Yeah   ?

Larry: Bal i and  ennifer are having a cheap, sordid sex thing

Finally, Mary Anne gets it and is upset, and she’s so completely polite in the way she puts Larry down:

Mary Anne: But why are you so upset?

sikk burnz

After all, she’s  nown  ennifer since they were 8 years old, has lived with her long enough to  now that she can only be described by the negative space around her  She doesn’t li e bargaining, she doesn’t necessarily li e muscles, and she sure as fuc doesn’t li e Larry


Meanwhile, Bal i and  ennifer have returned with the Wellington 4000 (its feather-touch control not pictured, but assuredly in the box)  Then the show seems to have gotten the message that I actually missed season 1, because we get a repeat of the physical comedy from “Happy Birthday Baby”, where Bal i has to hide the birthday ca e while Larry downs Bismol

But show, you pic ed the wrong aspect of season 1  In the immortal words of soda bottle caps: buy Pepsi, try again


ennifer goes from Bal i’s room, to the closet, to Larry’s bedroom (the one time she’ll ever be in there; THE ONE TIME), and again to Bal i’s room, while Bal i prevents Larry from hanging his robe and pretends that a roach lives in the closet, and they dance around or some shit

Then we get some more damn lines from both cousins that can be interpreted, depending on the viewpoint, as being about either the typewriter or  ennifer’s vagina

Guess how long this kind of dialogue goes on

Larry and Balki share a confusing moment


Finally, Larry says the word “lovers” so we can finally get to the resolution of this damn thing


Larry storms off, and then  ennifer storms out of Bal i’s bedroom, and she is PISSED  I guess even tal ing mannequins finally get tired of being forced off-screen by men  But she dutifully  eeps her anger confined to how Larry is being mean to Bal i

it speaks

Then Mar  Linn-Ba er reminds me that he’s the only actual actor on this show  When he as s where they were the night before, and  ennifer says “an office supply store”, you see the punchline coming, but Linn-Ba er’s delivery is perfect

Then, when they give him the typewriter:

Larry: That’s a Wellington 4000!

Larry considers

*five seconds pass*

Larry: With feather-touch control

Larry has decided on a face

It’s one of those lines that wrote itself; it was said enough times throughout the episode that it had to have a capper  But here’s what Linn-Ba er understands about that line: its nature as a feature so wonderful that it cannot be disentangled from the product itself, ma ing it compulsory that it be said, means that it functions in this scene as a means to calm Larry down, pulling him bac  into the reality of the simple gesture

Larry ma es a bunch of faces until my dream woman comes in to brea  the tension with another great line delivery


Mary Anne: How dare you steal the man I li e a lot away from me?

May I also point out that 1) it’s denim wee  for these woman, and 2) it too  Mary Anne this long to get here because she wanted to loo  her hottest for this confrontation about cheap, sordid sex things   ennifer reminds her that this whole thing was about a typewriter, and then they leave   ennifer insults Mary Anne on their way out

So, here we are, the conclusion of every other episode of Perfect Strangers now: Larry must apologize to Bal i

Sorry LarrySorry LarrySorry LarrySorry LarrySorry LarrySorry Larry

Cousin Larry tries to enter the honeymoon phase of being an abusive husband and play things off li e it’s  ust another of those “stupid things people do”  But Bal i  ust spent all of  ennifer’s money on a typewriter, so he’s not buying it

Sad Balki

Larry doesn’t understand why Bal i got him a present, it being neither Christmas or his birthday

Shocked Balki

Bal i as s if he’s the first best friend that Larry’s ever had and a woman in the audience is so moved that she gasps when Larry fumfers

Bal i forgives Larry, but Larry still does not want to ta e the typewriter

Angry Balki

Bal i: Ta e the typewriter

Whipped Larry

Bal i: It’s a gift from a friend

Balki and Larry share a tender moment

*wipes forehead* Whew!  I was afraid for a second there that the lesson would be that women can’t be owned, but nope, it’s  ust that friends are nice to their friends  Good to  now!

*fixes keyboard*

*gets real with you for a minute*

One last word about exteriors and interiors.  When you’re somebody like Larry (somebody like me)–that is, 100% self-loathing, and trying to project it onto others–accepting forgiveness is so hard. You want the external world to be as brutal as your internal world. In fact, “I forgive you” is far preferable to someone saying “no, it’s all right” when what you did isn’t all right with you! You can’t undo your actions, so you can’t let go of hating yourself, and you can’t understand why others would.  It’s a very solipsistic way of thinking, denying others their interiors. Sometimes they have to grab you by the collar and pull you up, showing you their full dimensions; revealing their interior so that yours can deepen, so that you can fix your typewriter (or maybe just go upstairs) and send better messages into the world.

To end, let’s try one last experiment:

Larry: Touch my hole.

Jennifer: —

Join me next week for “The Horn Blows at Midnight”!


Catchphrase count: Balki (1); Larry (0)

Boner count: Balki (0); Larry (0); imagined boners: like, 50 of ‘em