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

Playing House: “Officer Of The Year”/“Celebrate Me Scones”

Illustration for article titled Playing House: “Officer Of The Year”/“Celebrate Me Scones”

Ugh, Playing House, you’re not supposed to make me cry. Twice, no less.

Both finale episodes of Playing House had these wonderful moments that prove how entirely invested the show makes you be in these characters. It’s not a show about being guffawing-ly funny, it’s about considerably more than that. And as Playing House has progressed through its second season, it’s not just Emma and Maggie that are at the emotional core of the show. The weirdos that populate their lives start to have their tear-worthy moments as well (as in the excellent “Knotty Pine”). As much as I wanted Emma to end up with Mark, I similarly wanted Mark to end up with Emma. I wanted this secondary character to be just as happy as the central one. That’s what makes it better than a run of the mill comedy. The characters that populate this show are so inherently lovable that you grow to care for each and every weirdo that populates Pinebrook. Playing House’s true asset is that they made these characters worth loyalty and genuine affection in a relatively short time. Some sitcoms can go their full first season without any of their characters deserving of the same emotional attachment.

In the world of Playing House, there are no villains. It’s an inherently positive show in the same vein as Parks and Recreation, but even that show had its Tammys and Councilman Jams. Bruce is still the guy who cheated on Maggie, but he’s also a good dad, who understands that sometimes a woman just wants to get her body worked by someone who has been there before. Bird Bones was set up as this villain at the beginning, but she ended up becoming this bizarro friend of Emma and Maggie’s. Even her divorce from Mark was mutual and for actual, legitimate reasons. She didn’t sleep with woodworker/DJ/ homewrecker Buck Finch, she was only tempted by it (and if we’re going by …When Harry Met Sally rules, infidelity is not why a marriage breaks up, it‘s “a symptom that something else is wrong”). Instead, Mark and Bird Bones broke up because they simply weren’t compatible anymore. Rabbi Dan was never a bad guy to Emma. In fact, he was a great guy to Emma. His one mistake was breaking the boundaries of ladies’ weekend, which he recognized and quickly remedied. It would have been easy to make him the bad guy, to have him secretly be a scum who made out with the Andy MacDowell look alike lab tech behind Emma’s back. But instead, he continued to be a good guy. His only fault was not being Mark.

But Emma is not the villain either. In this short time, Playing House has made me so invested in this Emma-Mark pairing that it only made sense that Emma would throw away a potentially life-altering relationship for the guy who can simultaneously look like Bel, Biv and Devoe. But it also gave Emma and Mark a reason not to be together, to make it so their relationship was not this foregone conclusion (even though, let’s be honest, it totally is). There was no tangible reason for Emma to break up with Rabbi Dan except for an “Unless…,”, so there was no tangible reason for Emma and Mark to rekindle their relationship. They just had to go for it.

Just as in last season, the most emotional hefty moment was between Emma and Maggie, who have a love fest while in the clink after breaking into Kenny Loggins’ dressing room after delivering him Caddy Snacks (Kenny likes his pun-based snacks before the show, you know). Even with Maggie half-dressed as Bosephus (all hail Bosephus, the wonderful, so uber creepy Bosephus), they could still have this moment of true love for each other. Emma changed her entire life for Maggie and Charlotte (who was such a non-entity during this entire season, which I was fine with) and Maggie simply wanted to pay tribute to her. But I love these women. I feel like I’m the their wheel of their epic platonic love story. When Maggie thanked Emma wanted to be in the middle of their group hug. That’s where Playing House’s power lies.

So how did the first season compare to the second? It’s hard to say because if the second season proved anything, it’s not about the division of these two parts of the story, but the continuation of spending time with this peculiar set of people. Like friendship, time and experience gives Playing House more depth and breadth. It’s not about being better, so much as being able to spend more time with these people that, without you really know, you fall in love with.


Stray observations

  • Since I didn’t really get into plot in this review, let’s just relive some amazing quotes, shall we?
  • “My jets are so cold, they don’t even have beef with the Sharks anymore.”
  • “She looks just like Andy MacDowell, but warmer, more spontaneous.”
  • “Popular …. but slutty. Not her fault.”
  • “You were terrible in the Accidental Tourist, PS.” “That was Geena Davis, I’m so sorry.”
  • I love that the Mark’s ice rescue guy was still in the conga line.
  • “Last night was a one off. Like Daredevil. Or Gremlins 2.”
  • “Look! It’s an early body rool.”
  • “Keep it sexy, you’re just been Willcalled.”
  • “Bosephus, got back to whatever bait show you ambled out of.”
  • “These beachy waves took me an hour and a half!” “Oh c’mon you woke up like that, hashtag flawless.”
  • “And then a lemur attached itself to my thigh, and I said, ‘What is a lemur doing at an AC/DC concert?’”
  • “Why is there so much sheep skin and at the same time, why not?”
  • “Are you touching my knee? Because I can’t feel that.” Pamela Adlon once again GIVING ME LIFE.
  • …Until next season Playing House (hint, hint USA).