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The Sarah Silverman Program: "There's No Place Like Homeless"

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Last week's SSP and Thursday's were almost a set: Both had lively animation sequences, both had silly plots free from the show's typical button-pushing, and both involved Brian or Steve injuring parts of their bodies. Although instead of Adam Carolla and an escalator, we get Steve wearing a ludicrous dong sling. Win-win!
Okay, maybe there was some button-pushing here, as the central plot involved Sarah's stint as a homeless person. But homelessness is such a '90s cause celebre it hardly rates with today's hot topics of global warming, gay marriage, and Dancing With The Stars. So in a way, homelessness is almost quaint.
The episode opens with Sarah strolling through her cheerful neighborhood, enlivened by animated animals and a rainbow. The wholesome scene is ruined, though, when Sarah steps on the hand of a homeless man, who's incongruously sprawled on the ground in an otherwise genial setting.


Of course, this sets the machinations of the A-story in motion: At brunch, Sarah and Jay get into it over the homeless: "We're all just one bad decision away from living on the streets," Jay warns. When Sarah dismisses him, he points out that Laura pays for Sarah's life, so "For all intents and purposes, you are homeless!" Her voice low and aggressive, Sarah grabs and spoon and lunges across the table at Jay. So we all know where this is heading: Sarah will of course be homeless in a matter of moments.
The machinations of the Steve-Brian B-story arrive on schedule in the next scene, as Brian shows off the frilly new 666 tattoo he has on his lower back. Steve, ever the killjoy, hates it. As they drive to go apple picking with Jay and Laura (who sing a jaunty song "You can pick your nose / you can pick your friends / why not pick an apple instead? / apple apple apple apple picking is for me!"), the argument begins: "You indelibly branded yourself as a minion of the devil," Steve says. "Before you went through it, a phone call would've been courteous." "To who? The devil?" Brian responds. Zing! Then he adds, "Steve, I'm a grown up. I don't need your approval to worship the devil!"
Sarah loses her keys and runs into Homeless Mike (made homeless by his impulse buying…and crack), who describes life on the streets as "nothing but camaraderie and freedom." "Really? It doesn't smell like freedom," Sarah says. This leads to probably the episode's funniest scene, Mike and Sarah singing an alternate version of "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" over a semi-animated montage of life on the streets.

The past couple of episodes have shown a lot of promise when the SSP gets ambitious, and it has a surprising artfulness when it wants. The animated animals were a nice touch (a toucan smoking a cigarette on that dealer's shoulder? Awesome), and I loved the dolly shot of Sarah and Mike playing banjo while passing through a homeless community.
My favorite scene, though, comes shortly after, when Sarah's fellow hoboes hook her up with the homeless starter kit: a top hat with a daisy, trench coat, crack pipe, backup crack pipe, and, most important, a coffee can for a bathroom.
Really, though, the episode belonged to Steve's cock sling. At the apple orchard, Steve and Brian argue about how God and the devil don't exist (Steve's a doubter), which leads to gauntlet of testicular pain: First, lightning strikes Steve's penis, then it's hit with a rake, then a golfball, then bitten by a dog, then hit by an apple. Apparently the devil does exist, and he's a big fan of America's Funniest Home Videos.
That leads to the cock splint, which Laura gingerly applies to Steve's sizeable manhood. "Now you won't have any permanent damage to your penis, but you should try not to have an erection until it's fully healed," she tells him before turning to Brian. "That means you don't walk around being all sexy, you big flirt."
In pain, Steve finally relents and agrees to pray to Satan with Brian–though Brian's idea of prayer is lining up candles in the shape of a pentagram and reciting Black Sabbath lyrics. "You know, I'm thinking maybe I don't really believe in Satan," Brian says later. "Maybe I'm just into all this crap because I love Sabbath so much."
Meanwhile, Sarah believes she's found her true family in the homeless world, where she can "watch TV" merely by huffing spray paint with her friends. Laura and Jay see her on the news and try to persuade her to come home, but Sarah of course isn't having it: "Huh, it's a tough decision: sleep next to a Dumpster and get stabbed by teenagers, or sleep indoors and get a condescending lecture once again by my sister Laura."


As we all know, Sarah will soon be humbled and come crawling back to her long-suffering sister and her sister's put-upon boyfriend. This time it's because Homeless Mike reunites with his parents and finds a home, where he can watch his "favorite programs on TiVo, and they don't make me go blind if I watch too much at once." Soon Sarah's back home, and once again, all's well that ends well. Brian even turns the triple sixes on his back into Steve's name. Awww.
Grade: B+
Other notes:
— Another typical exchange between Laura & Jay:
Laura: "And then yesterday, the hospital smelled like a library!"
Jay: "Why does stuff happen like that?"
They're so nerdy and adorable. And the SSP has thrown Laura's many fans another bone by having her rock so much cleavage in this episode.
— Not a lot of extra stuff to say about this episode, so here's another video.