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

Man Seeking Woman: “Dram”

Image for article titled Man Seeking Woman: “Dram”

After the body horror of “Pitbull,” Man Seeking Woman is back to tense set pieces in “Dram” as Josh is set up on a blind date once again by his sister. Maude may wind up moving a bit quickly for Josh, but she’s a certainly a better match for him than Gorbachaka and she instantly gets points for being just as weirded out by Liz’s creepy couple friends as Josh is. Jay Baruchel and Maria Thayer have good chemistry together but fun as Thayer is, Maude is surprisingly tangential to the episode, as most of the “Dram” focuses on the meddling of Josh’s family.

As ever, Britt Lower is a treat as Liz, who loves her brother, even if she’s terrible at eulogizing him. Lower tweaks her performance well to fit the varying tones of the episode, from earnest and heartfelt in Liz’s pre-credits plea for a pity date for Josh to psychotically villainous during their mother’s interrogation of him. The star of the episode, though, is Robin Duke as Josh and Liz’s mom Patti, who brings a delightful edge to a mother desperate to see her children happily paired off and unwilling to accept anything less than the full scoop on their love lives. The torture sequence brings the biggest laughs of the episode as Patti pulls out her secret weapon: reaching out to Maude via Facebook. Baruchel is great throughout, but he’s particularly entertaining here as the sarcastic tough-guy action star as Josh does his best to withstand his mother’s questions, finally throwing Liz under the bus when he reaches his limit. Returning along with Duke is Mark McKinney as Tom, who nails his two brief exchanges. In only a handful of episodes, Man Seeking Woman has done a good job establishing and drawing humor from Josh’s family and hopefully, both Duke and McKinney will return soon.

Though Mike appears comparatively briefly, Eric André remains a reliable source of comedy, nailing his reaction to Josh’s description of his upcoming booty call. While Mike’s advice is indeed sketchy, his dram from the local apothecary moves the episode nicely to its final sequence. Based on Maude’s sensible reaction to Josh—once he’s straight with her—and his reaction, it seems likely the season will chart Josh’s progress from post-Maggie hail storm to him being far more together and perhaps ready for love. While Thayer is fantastic at zany, heightened comedy and could have easily kept escalating Maude, it’s nice that the episode goes the other way and has her walk away upon learning of Josh’s hesitancy, opting yet again for a quiet resolution to an episode’s worth of mounting tension.

“Dram” is the most consistent episode of the series thus far, telling a cohesive story with with the series’ usual creativity but lacking the standout moments of “Lizard” and “Traib.” The opening handily captures the tone of a PSA, down to its plunky, inspirational piano scoring, and the dinner sequence benefits from excellent sound design, scoring, and camera work. The whispers of Liz and her friends are just audible through the painting wall, “This is taking too long” the final words whispered before Liz comes bursting through the painting to demand forward motion from her latest attempt at match making. The lighting is great through the torture sequence and as has been the case consistently with Mike, André’s underplaying of his fantasy-inspired dialogue grounds his corners of the series. On the whole, this is a solid and entertaining episode of a series still finding its legs.

Stray observations:

  • Tam’s forceful final words, pre-decapitation, “It will be cute!” and her and Tim’s, “Aww!” at Josh and Maude’s hookup are great.
  • Perhaps the best touch of the torture sequence is Patti’s immediate overreaction to Maude being from the same town as another friend of the family, “Does she know the Stevensons? Do they know each other? Do they all know each other?”
  • Maude’s Keep Calm And Camp On shirt is a great pick for the character. Of course she has a Keep Calm And Camp On shirt.
  • Wait, Mike’s the sensible one this week? Sure, his advice to ignore Maude until she gets it is useless, but he’s not wrong about Maude jumping the gun on commitment, considering they’ve yet to DTR.