Sunny was sort of a cut-rate Frasier this week, what with all the class commentary and farcical tumbling about. Okay, maybe Frasier never buttered a watermelon and tossed it in a public pool to create a ruckus, but I've decided on the comparison and I'm sticking with it. This week Charlie and Mac struggled to confront their white trash nature. Sure, Charlie might have jean short shorts and Mac supposedly knows how to do a backflip, but they still can't get into the local swim club, and they think this must be because of their lower-class status. That they discuss this while tossing beer cans they've finished chugging onto the sidewalk as they walk only helps to underline the point.
Mac and Charlie's half of the episode, where they try to renovate an abandoned pool before getting stuck in the thing, was definitely the funnier half because a lot of it relied on Charlie freaking out and babbling nonsensically. That's one of Sunny's comedy cornerstones; hell, it's basically one of America's comedy cornerstones. So from Charlie making airplane noises as he hands Frank a beer, to him angrily demanding Mac do a backflip for him, to his screaming "we're stuck in the pool!" while Mac is on the phone, to his bizarre short-shorts dance that demonstrated mobility ("WHAT IS WHITE TRASH ABOUT THAT!"), we had a lot of Charlie-squawking. And I love Charlie-squawking.
Dennis and Dee's misadventures as they try to demonstrate their upper-crustiness had some good stuff but wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny. It was hard to figure when the characters were being mocked and when the public pool was being mocked to the point that I stopped really caring about either. Frank's escalating walk-on scenes (first with the towel, then the watermelon, then asking to be buttered up -- he's like a little butterball!) were the best thing about it.
In fact, my favorite aspect of this episode was Frank's declaration that he lives "on the fringe" rather than in the strict categories of Dennis and Dee or Mac and Charlie. Frank isn't often the standout character of an episode, because he's usually given to very strange, random subplots, but this time his little gags really worked for me. Maybe because every character was all hot and sweaty and angry all the time, his childlike glee at trading a hot dog for a towel or popping a fire hydrant was bouncy and fun.
Plus, Frank's role in the series is hard to pinpoint by now -- at first he was the grumpy, rich patriarch who dispensed no love to his children, and then the writers realized his filthy relationship with Charlie was a comedy goldmine, but over the years he's become such an abnormal troll it's hard to even remember he was supposed to be the one with money. (Sidebar: I wish we could have seen more of Mac and Charlie's pool presentation to him, because their little collage looked pretty awesome.) Anyway, I liked having an episode that highlighted Frank's mysterious, fringe-y role in society now.
I also liked that while Dee and Dennis insisted they were upper class, they obviously aren't because even with their hard bodies and good breeding, their social mores have deteriorated so much they couldn't even pull off the country club if they had money. And Charlie and Mac's insistence that they weren't trash was countered by every time they tossed a beer can aside. But Frank's declaration that he was "fringe class!" was pretty much actually true! In fact, everyone should have just listened to him from the start, because the happiest those guys looked this week was dancing in the fire hydrant over the closing credits.
Mac's "fuck you" got bleeped out -- have they done that before on this show? I forget.
I liked the ongoing tale of Jamie Nelson, skateboarder extraordinaire and swimmer not-so-extraordinaire, and his role in closing the community pool. Charlie's stick-figure memorial to him on the wall was a nice touch, but the Agnus Dei/voodoo prayer was my favorite part.
Dee protests the token black family on display at the country club. "Parade them around like dancing monkeys! I didn't mean that, it's a phrase, it's like … performing monkeys."
Charlie has taken up buying burner cell phones, which Mac deems "felon-class."
Next time I go to a public pool, I'm definitely wearing sneakers.