Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Channing Tatum drives a wedge between Billie and Gene on Idiotsitter

Illustration for article titled Channing Tatum drives a wedge between Billie and Gene on Idiotsitter

Last week’s “Funeral” pushed Billie and Gene out of their environment and out of their respective types, making for the most compelling and surprising episode yet. “Hos Before Bros” similarly prods the characters and their dynamic, shaking things up by introducing an outsider: Trick Malloy (Gene: “Sounds like a bisexual pool player.” Billie: “Or an Irish magician.”), played by guest star Channing Tatum.

Tatum is the first actor on Idiotsitter who comes close to delivering a comedic performance on-par with Charlotte Newhouse and Jillian Bell. He’s given great material to work with: Every line that comes out of Malloy’s mouth makes it very clear that he’s very dumb, but he’s dumb in such a weird and specific way, which makes the character a lot more fun than just your average neighborhood idiot. Trick speaks in figures of speech that never really make sense (“Plane friends stay friends” and “I want to eat life”) and can’t pronounce David Bowie. Tatum nails the delivery at every turn, holding his ground when playing against Newhouse and Bell, who both throw very different but equally hilarious performances at him. Malloy embodies the exact brand of weird that Idiotsitter excels at.

But Newhouse and Bell are still very much so the stars of the episode. Billie and Gene both immediately fall for Trick and, naturally, their crushes manifest in very different ways. Gene is aggressive in her pursuit of Trick. There isn’t an ounce of ambiguity to her come ons (“I love coming first”), and Bell matches the intensity of the dialogue with intense physicality. But while Gene’s busy jerking off a pool noodle in front of Trick, Billie’s attempts at flirting are expectedly less sexually forward. Whereas Gene is completely unfazed by her attraction to Trick, Billie awkwardly attempts to find her chill even though it is clear that she has none. Her version of escalating her flirtation involves researching Trick’s interests and cooking him Belgian waffles. As Gene decreases the personal space between her and Trick, Billie’s scrunchies get bigger, her lips redder. The episode heightens both of their approaches to hitting on Trick in fun ways. In the end, their actions aren’t that different: Both do too much.

And it culminates in a fight between the two. Bell and Newhouse manage to make the fight funny (“SALAD JOKE!!!!”), but the emotional climax of “Hos Before Bros” simply doesn’t pack the same punch as last week’s “Funeral.” Billie and Gene are back to their predictable dichotomies, which would be fine if there was some sort of payoff more powerful—-and less predictable—than a girl fight over a trash dude. Watching two women go full crazy and turn on each other over a hot idiot just isn’t a fresh story. The way Idiotsitter approaches the plot is somewhat interesting because of the weirdness to some of the detail. Billie and Gene’s dueling dream sequences, for example, are fantastic, especially thanks to the sight gag of Tatum dressed as the Goblin King (R.I.P.) at a masquerade. So there are some isolated moments in there that are really funny and particular to Idiotsitter’s voice, but it’s not quite enough to elevate “Hos Before Bros” from its conventional story.

Trick pushes Billie and Gene apart, but the episode doesn’t really bring them together again. There’s a little bit of reconciliation and pathos at the end when Trick turns out to be a dick and makes fun of Gene for the things she told him when she was opening up in a real way. The moment is devastating, and Bell proves that she can land the more understated side of her performance as Gene, who immediately acts like everything is fine even though it isn’t. Unfortunately, the moment comes too late in the episode, and there isn’t time for any relationship work between Billie and Gene. The end of “Hos Before Bros” signals the end of their war over Trick, but it happens in such a rushed and mechanical way that it feels more like the writers are just saying “alright, we’re done with that” rather than the characters arriving at any kind of real conclusion themselves. For as messy as Billie and Gene get in “Hos Before Bros,” the episode itself plays it all too safe.

Stray observations

  • I love when Idiotsitter gets stuck on strange tangents that have nothing to do with the plot of the episode but still add so much in terms of humor. This week’s “dueling Jay Baruchel impressions” is a highlight.
  • “Chugga chugga chugga chugga HIS DICK”
  • “Elizatrick Billie Brown”
  • “Hey are you talking to me or are you talking to yourself in the hallway?”
  • “I cry when I listen to Lennie Annix.”
  • I’m still finding the comedy writing around Tanzi lacking, although Jennifer Elise Cox is doing her best with what she’s given. She always has one line that makes me laugh, and this time it was “Ashanti.”
  • Another favorite from the kitchen fight: “Does this remind you of your childhood? TRASH!!!!”
  • “I don’t actually think that space is real.” Tatum is fun throughout, but he’s particularly great in the tag.