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

Up All Night: “Ma’am’d”

Illustration for article titled Up All Night: “Ma’am’d”

“Ma’am’d” revisits all too familiar terrain for Up All Night. Reagan feels frumpy and passé, this time thanks to a truly spectacular faceplant in the Brinkleys local [Insert Hipster Joke] Café. Chris is too distracted to notice, this time thanks to falling into the black hole of iMovie tutorials. Nothing will sway him, not even Reagan vamping in his hockey jersey and a fedora (which is either a very weird wardrobe choice or a nice character touch for the perpetually trying too hard Reagan—you make the call).

Reagan and Chris then split off into two storylines: Reagan compensates for Chris’ inattentiveness by feeding off the flattery of her innocuous dentist (a giggling Tony Hale), while Chris tries to go a week without filming their daughter for his virtual scrapbooks. Both plots have promise, and could easily be their own episodes, but neither have enough room to go anywhere unexpected. Also, it’s hard to get riled up about Chris’ incessant filming of Amy. Yes, it's annoying to watch someone glued to their phone, but it seems like a weird line to draw to forbid a first-time parent from filming his toddler’s trick-or-treating.

Reagan and Chris’ confrontation in the parking lot after Reagan’s had her wisdom teeth extracted is a high point in the episode; Christina Applegate’s frantic “lately I’ve been feeling like a bumbling old sow cow, and I’m not! I’m NOT!” was my biggest laugh. Chris’ video tribute to Reagan’s butt is also cute in that perverse way Up All Night likes so much. I also appreciated it combination of Will Arnett and aviators, if only because I’m now imagining the actor recreating the title sequence to CSI: Miami.

Meanwhile, in the latest installment of Ava Can’t Relate to The Common Folk, we got Ava discovering that nearby wireless network “FUava” is not, in fact, an Italian name, but an open declaration of hate. Ava and Walter (Sean Hayes, back for more) immediately crash a neighborhood meeting to discover the culprit. Ava’s neighbors are less than pleased to see her. They welcome her with all the warmth of Stars Hollow’s most persnickety council members, which is to say, zero warmth. As a peace offering, Ava volunteers to host the annual Halloween haunted house, but Ava being Ava, she overdoes it by accidentally traumatizing their children. There’s nothing wrong with Ava bungling her good intentions; in fact, that’s usually when her character works best. But these neighbors are so joyless—not to mention weirdly harsh about her “vocal exercises” (“it sounds like a seagull being beaten to death with a bagpipe”)—that Ava’s trying to please them felt less like a redemption story and more just desperation. When the neighborhood kids ran screaming out of her and Walter’s “Gothic work of art,” I cheered them on. FUava’s neighborhood! 

Up All Night is a very pleasant way to spend a half-hour. But by the time it’s over, you’ve mentally moved on to hating Will Arnett’s post-breakup weight-loss situation and search engine-ing* pictures of he and Amy Poehler in happier times. A week later, you might wonder what happened to those nice Brinkleys. You might as well check in on them; they’re a nice enough couple. Plus, you may even get to see Maya Rudolph do an impression of an ancient Italian man in between smoke breaks, which is always delightful. But the show is running out of time to figure the rest of itself out.

Stray observations:

  • *Anyone else tickled by the fact that Reagan and Ava say “search engine it” while Ava’s octogenarian neighbor is technologically savvy enough to make his wireless network name “FUava”?
  • Calling all webseries fans: Reagan’s barista is played by Craig Frank, the newest castmember of the disarmingly charming series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
  • “Wassup, my brother?”—obligatory acknowledgement that two Arrested Development actors were in the same room.
  • “More of this, please” line of the night goes to Chris: “Ooh, maybe I’ll use a swirl effect for the trip to Yogurt Depot! Or is that too on-the-nose?”