Since the pilot, Another Period has taken its 20th-century setting and reality-show base as absurd backdrops for social commentary, satire, and some pretty dark humor. It’s not afraid to “go there,” as one might say, and it does so with the type of “smart stupidity” that you see in programs like Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp or Childrens Hospital. In “Switcheroo Day,” Another Period takes all of that a step further—a feat that appeared impossible—by combining rags to riches, hate to love, and fake relationship tropes into a somehow coherent storyline. It’s also the best episode of the season so far, marrying the off-center humor with genuine emotional beats (as well as genuine acts of despicableness). Moshe Kasher’s script takes these confusingly popular tropes and molds them to fit perfectly into Another Period’s twisted, hyper world.
What’s important to realize about “Switcheroo Day” is that while it’s a predictable episode through and through, it still manages to find a way to be original and hilarious. These really are some of the most predictable and prolific tropes there are, and Another Period follows them beat-by-beat with Kasher’s script, only with the Another Period touch—turning everything on its head so quickly you barely know what hit you. These types of stories don’t typically have Mohandas Gandhi (Ravi Patel) and Leon Trotsky (Matt Besser) getting into a fight at Mark Twain’s (a returning Rich Fulcher) estate, nor do they tend to involve potato-related sexual tension. That’s specific to Another Period and its approach to everything.
Lillian deciding to use a fake kidnapping to become a national treasure is a play right out of her fake domestic abuse and fake dead husband playbook, and at this point in the series, these harebrained schemes are still as charmingly delusional as they were when Lillian first began to use them. And Hamish taking said fake kidnapping all too seriously is “classic Hamish.” But the two of them developing a dark and dirty spark from all of this (especially after Lillian’s previous attempts at bedding well-respected men) just feels right. It’s not just because they’re both horrible people; these characters all feel very lived-in. Even with other prominent characters like Frederick, Hortense (who only shows up for a moment), and Victor out on their own offscreen adventures this week, at no point does the episode feel like it’s scraping by in order to constantly give the characters something to do. This is a rich story and everyone here tackles it head on.
Peepers: “Without the rich, the serving class would have nothing to do but gamble, eat taffy, and drink gasoline.”
“Switcheroo Day” also puts the Commodore’s perpetual absence to good use by having Peepers pretend to be him for his beloved Dodo. Peepers’ dedication to his life of servitude has led to plenty of over-the-top scenarios, from his Native American ancestry to his servant training with Chair, and it all comes together here, as he must act like the rich folk that he serves. The fact that he’s barely able to keep up the charade is only saved by the fact that the rich are self-involved across the board, not just in the Bellacourt family. This particular plot ends up being proof of sorts that Peepers is really the closest thing to a “good” person on this show, as his dalliance with the world of privilege doesn’t change him a bit. Just see how he attempts to teach Gandhi and Trotsky about non-violence.
The same can’t be said about Blanche though, who gives in to the awful world of the obscenely wealthy rather quickly. It’s fun to watch, though, as the sight of Blanche with Beatrice’s dress over her own maid’s uniform doesn’t get any less delightful as the episode goes on, nor does Beth Dover’s constant pained and terrified smile prior to her fully accepting the Bellacourt’s world of absolute decadence (and torturing Chair). With the end of the episode, it would be easy for the other Bellacourts to be duped by Blanche’s disguise, considering their stance on servants being subhuman, but instead, everyone—especially secret genius Beatrice—is in on the farce.
The only thing this episode is missing is an identical strangers bit for good measure.
As the lines between the upstairs and downstairs characters continue to blur, Another Period heads further into the realm of unpredictability. After all, this episode is three different romantic comedies unfolding at once (which would make Garry Marshall proud, especially given the episode title), and in the most out-of-left-field ways. The show’s episodic concepts are becoming more bizarre too, as “Dog Dinner Party” is the next episode after “Switcheroo Day.” It’s a smartly demented ride, and even if the only clues as to what’s next are things like Tom Lennon’s Marquis de Sainsbury spouting catchphrases, it’s something to look forward to.
- Beatrice: “Blanche, I’m not an idiot! This one is small, that one is big!” Beatrice started her plot off right, by torturing Blanche with perspective.
- As I mentioned Childrens Hospital earlier, that show had a version of the Blanche/Beatrice storyline trope with Chief and Owen back in season four.
- Blanche has a sister named Anna, who is also a servant, and Beatrice has been keeping her in a box underneath her bed. That is…dark.
- I recently saw someone compare a moment from another show to Pete Campbell revealing Don Draper’s real identity (only for no one to care), and now I’m going to do it with Chair informing Peepers of Blanche’s behavior during “switcheroo day” (only for him not to care). No matter what you say, it’s a Mad Men callback!
- With her thinking behind her kidnapping idea, Lillian versus babies continues.
- Lillian: “Dear God, please free me. And if you have time, make me really famous. And while you’re at it, God, would you mind killing all my enemies in a fire? Ooh, but hopefully after they bathe, so their hair’s still wet and the fire takes longer to cook them!“ The holy music and light washing over her during this prayer just makes it all better.
- “It is an order” is no “Majestic no more,” but Dodo/Paget Brewster certainly knows how to leave an impression with just a single line (repeated or not).
- I think, deep down, we all knew Gandhi was “not a little bitch.”
- The weird sex web is getting more tangled, as now there’s something bubbling between Lillian and Hamish, and Peepers is even more interested in Dodo after she went downstairs. If you know what I mean.