Just how bad is Pucks supposed to be? Just how stupid are Sean and Beverly? In the glimpses Episodes gives, Pucks seems like an extremely lame, forgettable sitcom, with that 1990s cookie-cutter feel. In tonight’s episode, the ratings for the show have taken a precipitous drop—a talking-dog show is beating them now, and everyone (certainly the execs) is acknowledging how horrible Pucks is.
In one scene, the vacant Myra (Daisy Haggard) gives notes on a script and the whole process is torturous for Sean and Beverly since she doesn’t seem to get anything. But one of her concerns—a joke about iPads and maxi pads—is legitimate. There’s no way that joke is funny. You could write a billion versions of a joke revolving around iPads and maxi pads, and it would never be funny. So it’s hard to be sympathetic to Sean and Beverly as they grimace through Myra’s nonsense, because it’s not like they’re any better than her. I understand they had their star and their concept wrestled away from them by the studio, but that doesn’t stop them from writing supposedly good jokes, right?
We’re left with a show about bad television, the shitty writers making said bad television, the mediocre actors involved and the moronic studio execs foolishly approving everything. There’s not much to root for here. Maybe it’d work if this were a searing television satire, but it’s not. The jabs at talking dog shows and whatnot seem aimed at a bygone era of television, more at the very concept of “American TV” being bad. Merc has never been developed past the screaming exec—Carol is more well-rounded, but she exists mostly to smooth Merc out.
It seems like the whole second season is going to be about everyone learning from the mistakes they made in season one. Merc never should have picked up Pucks, and he definitely shouldn’t have meddled with it. Sean and Beverly shouldn’t have gone along with everything, and they definitely shouldn’t have let the show drive a wedge between them. Matt LeBlanc… well, he’s just doing his thing. Maybe that’s why he’s the easiest character to watch on this show, even though there’s no reason to like him.
LeBlanc is a brat—he’s sticking his dick in anything shows interest in him, he’s sleepwalking through his part on this show, and that’s about it. To apologize to Sean and Beverly, he buys them cars, the main plot point of this episode—Bev accepts immediately, while Sean resists until an “emotional” speech from Matt that’s basically about what an infant he is. Sean totally has the moral high ground here, but since this show needs to get back to being breezy, he kinda-sorta makes up with Matt.
It’s unfortunate that that’s exactly what the show needs to happen. I should, by now, be invested in Sean and Beverly getting back together, but honestly, if the show shed Bev entirely, I don’t know how much worse it would be. That should be the crux of this show, but it’s never had the necessary heft, while Sean and Matt’s surprising connection is usually worth a few laughs.
As you can probably tell, I was not a fan of this episode. A B-plot involves Carol convincing a gay employee Merc fired not to sue, and said gay employee is typically fabulous (and even dumber than the rest of the studio types). Kathleen Rose Perkins continues to do her best to invest some depth in Carol, but this kind of soggy satire isn’t going to give her many opportunities.
We also get some further developments with Sean and Morning (they had sex and it was nice) and Matt and Merc’s wife (they have sex and the whole thing seems very nice). I’ll say this: Sean’s monologue about consummating his crush on Morning was pretty good, in a Four Weddings And A Funeral, Hugh Grant sort of way, and I’m going to post it here to end this review on a high note:
“Have… have… any of you ever had… an experience that you’d fantasized about, but that you never believed in reality could ever happen and then, amazingly, that experience actually occurs and remarkably, it's almost exactly what you expected it would be, but then you discover that the experience meant absolutely nothing? Nothing. Which you'd assume would somehow diminish the experience, but instead, the fact that it meant nothing makes it even better. D'you know what I mean?”
The response: “You got laid. Cool.” Pretty much the one time the show hits its mark tonight.
Matt doesn’t get why Sean’s apartment doesn’t have a front-facing view. “It’s not like the front faces the Parthenon!” Sean protests.
Bev immediately gets a tan from Matt’s convertible. “I choose to wear my ashen pallor as a badge of honor,” Sean huffs.
Myra’s right about the iPad joke, but then she doesn’t even know what a “beat” is, referring to them as “bats.” Sigh.