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

Up All Night: “Baby Fever”

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Episodes of Up All Night tend to drop off in quality if they rely too much on the Ava set or too much on the Brinkley home. This one didn’t quite fall into either of those categories, though it did err a bit on the office side, but it still felt deflated. Maybe it was the return of crazy Ava, or maybe it was the somewhat unbelievable dynamic between Reagan and Yvonne, but “Baby Fever” just didn’t quite come together.

For Reagan’s part, it was the mysterious methods of Yvonne, whose favor she desperately wants. Yvonne is almost a counterpart to other NBC Thursday night bosses like Jack Donaghy (at least, she certainly likes her whiskey as much as Jack), but we haven’t gotten to know much of her past her breezy self-help bluster, so her meeting with Reagan about taking over the network was hard to parse. She lends or maybe gives her jacket to Reagan, who exclaims dreamily that “it’s like wearing a big power cloud!” Luke becomes frantic for Yvonne’s favor, but just as it looks like Reagan’s the new boss’ pet, she brushes Reagan off in a Skype meeting for Luke.

The whole plot arc felt tired. Surely Reagan’s admiration for Yvonne lessened when she realized that her role in the Ava production would be little more than figurehead? The way Reagan’s character has been developing, it doesn’t seem like she would be so easily enraptured. In fact, that’s kind of a Chris move. And it also managed to backtrack on Luke’s likeability as a character since last episode’s poker game with Ava. It was like the installment was out of sequence, or the writers had changed their mind about integrating Luke into the cast more.

Chris’ plot this week was little better. While attempting to give away some of Amy’s old clothes to a friend with a new baby, Chris has a change of heart over that teeny-weeny orange tankini and decides that he wants another baby. The lengths he goes to in order to convince Reagan have some funny moments. I loved when he was discussing “tiny socks” and “baby smell” during hockey practice, and his iPad presentation set to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” was good enough to convince Ava. The most impressive gambit was his inversion of the traditional “trail of rose petals to the bath” seduction method, placing baby toys and a picture of the baby Kennedys in the Oval Office all the way to Arnett in a bubble bath with a fedora on. “Oh, is looking exactly like Frank Sinatra not sexy anymore?” he asked.

And yet, Reagan is not convinced. For once Ava actually worked as a break-in therapist for the couple instead of the random intruding coworker who steals all the Cheerios, but she still hearkened back to the beginning of the series, when she was more of a sacked out diva instead of the more nuanced Ava we’ve seen lately. One of Yvonne’s many charity projects is a Big Brothers, Big Sisters-type endeavor called Little Pals. Ava subscribes to this hoping that she can turn a young thug into a shining model pupil, but instead gets a mildly grumpy teenager who is vaguely dissatisfied with her parents’ divorce. Ava overreaches a bit with her advice: Probably the best scene of the whole encounter is when Ava asks about her parents’ spit and Jamie proclaims it “awkward” while Ava fills in for her “a suicide-inducing hellscape of pain.” The only moment of real connection the two have is over lattes, when the popular, mean girls arrive at the same coffee shop and Ava admits that she, too, was an outsider in high school. Ava then gives the plastic a solid dressing down, with such fortunes as “mysterious STD,” “gay husband,” and “pill problem,” which allow Jamie to get in with the girls by putting down Ava. This is, actually, how high school works, much more often than those calling outs make the girls anything like good people.

Ava, feeling like she hasn’t exercised enough older sibling wisdom, catches Chris and Reagan in the middle of said baby fever conversation, and actually dispenses some fair advice. Calm returns to the Brinkley household, which I suppose is better than if they had taken the second baby plot approach. It seems too early in the series to have that (ahem) gestate.


Stray observations:

  • Ava on Reagan’s breath: “I give it a B, it be bad.”
  • “Lady girls” is actually a pretty convenient way of skipping the weirdnesses that come with addressing a group of women.
  • Was that woman Chris was giving the clothes to Kimberly Quinn of Terriers fame? I thought it was, but IMDB doesn’t seem to think so.