In anticipation of next week’s season finale, it’s time to check up on the past few episodes of the MTV drama. What began with fourgies and fridge sex has slowly morphed into an amusing, awkward and occasionally painful dramedy about late twenty-somethings.
Let’s bitch out episodes seven through ten…I got flack from supporting the show’s slightly deviant sexuality early on (see comments in my initial recap) and, at the time, I remember thinking that the show has potential to explore some really interesting issues, especially considering its audience (and 11pm Thursday timeslot). Early in the show there wasn’t a lot of plot to hang on to: Tina (Kim Shaw) was a bit of a floozy, Jay (Peter Vack) was her wingman/partner-in-crime and the couple, Stacey (Elisabeth Hower) and Eric (Jordan Carlos) – were the boring ones who got saddled with familiar, dull storylines. Slowly, over the last few episodes, however, real life issues have begun to overtake the random sexual exchanges and bar shots. Tina and Jay had money problems that forced them to confront their status as adults in ‘Safety Nets’ and now, in this batch of episodes there’s proof that there’s a great drama hidden behind the dirty jokes.
Episode 7: ‘A Piece Of Cake’
Tina considers getting back together with Brett (Steve Talley) only to discover that he has a new shuffleboard whore. Jay, more desperate for cash than ever, decides to return to JB’s (Chris Parnell) for a $500 acting job…as a piece of cake who hands out flyers. While flyering he runs into Jane (Kelli Barrett) and, in a moment of pure idiocy, simply lets her walk away. His inability to function as a rational human being is really frustrating…
This leads to heavy drinking for both (after a nice moment between Sunkrish Baa’s Bobby and Tina when he comforts her) and then party crashing. The party is question is the first joint party thrown by Stacey and Eric, which is attended by “Doctor dorks and Law Geeks.” Featuring Champagne punch with orange zest, Vodka worms that get you drunk, and mannequin hands holding guac, it naturally looks bad, like “cage humans and harvest their skin bad”. Of course that’s nothing compared to the awkwardness that results when Jay ends up in his boxers and Tina ends up sucking face with Lench (Nick Kocher). In the morning Jay returns to JB’s to “beg” for his job back.
- Tina (in response to Jay’s new gig): “Not sure what I’d cast you as: Young lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality or corpse #2 in a zombie film”
- A conversation between Jay and Corn (Laura Grey) on humiliating flyer outfits – Corn: “Once I was a tampon.” Jay: “Ew.” Corn: “It was okay. It rained. I absorbed it.” I nearly died hearing this line. Rewind -> multiple times.
- Lench (describing his unique sex skills): “There’s like five people who can peel a carrot that way.”
- Tina (to Eric, who sasses her about Lench): “If I wasn’t so hungover, I’d make fun of your man-gymas”
Episode 8: ‘Blackout’
This is the turn-around episode for me; it’s here when the show really goes from “random twenty-something comedy” to “legitimate twenty-something drama with great, inappropriate lines.” As directed by executive producer Doug Liman, the episode finds the group heading to the outskirts of the city to attend a party by Tina’s new friend, Nell (Stephanie Brait), who is also Jay’s new crush. As the city goes into a black-out – due to a heat wave – Stacey and Eric confront the possibility that she is pregnant while Tina and Jay bitch each other out over the changes to their friendship that occur whenever he begins dating someone.
In effect this is the least “laugh-friendly” episode yet, but it finally gives Hower and Carlos something to do and it peels back the dynamic between Tina and Jay, whose relationship – for me – is the crux of the show. When she reveals to him that the true reason she doesn’t want him to date Nell is because he forgets about her, it immediately rang true to me. Who hasn’t been in a position where a close friend abandons them for a new romantic relationship? Although it’s Hollywood cheesy to see him rescue her from some douchebag at Nell’s party, it’s also really nice to see them look out for one another. And although Stacey and Eric are not pregnant, it’s another reminder that there are real life issues tied into their silly fourgy and one-night stand escapades.
- Tina (to Nell): “Never date a guy with a bird. They usually have mommy issues. And even if they don’t, you still have to deal with the bird.” Ah Tina, so wise…so deep
- Tina (upon leaving the blacked out subway station): “Someone was squeezing my ass like they were shopping for melons”
- Tina (to Stacey who is about to take the pregnancy test): “Call me after you pee.” Stacey: “I always do”
- Bus Driver (putting the bus out of service in response to a rider who calls her a bitch): “Who’s the bitch now, bitch?”
- Lench (overheard through the bathroom door as Stacey reminds Eric the pregnancy test he’s kissing has urine on it): “Ohhh…how is this arousing me?”
Episode 9: ‘Love Equation’
If anything, ‘Love Equation’ feels like a step backwards, especially coming after the show’s strongest episode to date. Each of the three storylines are predictable and too juvenile to satisfy: Stacey and Eric stop lying to each other and realize they need the fibs to make their relationship work, Jay can’t express himself to Nell and gives her a series of bad presents and Tina Yoko’s her new boyfriend’s Green Day cover band. It’s all been done before and – frankly – much better, so let’s move on, shall we?
Side Note: Eric’s university band, Black Scientist, and their video (to which the episode owes its title) would be significantly funnier had How I Met Your Mother not already done this with Robyn Sparkles. Oh well…
- Tina (trying to convince Ethan’s band to work on original songs): “I am not the cheerleader type, but firecracker, firecracker bitches!”
- Eric (in embarrassment about Ethan’s solo performance): “Can we look away? I’m getting hot neck”
Episode 10: ‘Sextipated’
This past week’s episode is better, although some of the momentum from ‘Blackout’ is still missing, particularly in the Stacey and Eric story, which doesn’t even amount to anything beyond studying hijinks (apropos considering it’s almost finals time for students?). Tina’s storyline is best as we see her going “aspirational”: first proposing a new direction for her internet product company where she still works as an assistant, and then aiding LA photographer hotshot Paul Warner (Josh Casaubon). It’s pretty clear early on that the flirtatious combativeness will lead to something, though the hiring – and subsequent losing – of dominatrix giraffe model Anya due to the hobo bathroom nightshoot is still mildly amusing. While it’s good that Tina will get more recognition at work, it would have been nice if the show hadn’t reinforced that she needed Paul to get it for her, or that this story wasn’t simply an excuse to get the two of them together (highlighted in next week’s preview).
Jay’s continuing romance with Ness takes a detour as lesbian ex, Alex (Eryn Joslyn) arrives on the scene. This part of the episode drags for a few reasons: a) the surprise that Alex is a woman was ruined a few weeks back by MTV’s marketing department (thanks!), but also because b) it’s like a bad slasher film when Jay suspects hypersexual psychotic Alex has less than pure intentions and Ness doesn’t believe him. Naturally his suspicions are confirmed when Alex reveals her salacious intentions at the bar, and – in a moment that saves the storyline – Ness admits that she is confused about her feelings. Other shows might have dragged it out, or have Jay simply be irrationally jealous, so it’s nice that he takes the high ground and acts like an adult by first addressing the situation and then having the dignity to walk away when Ness can’t choose. So long straggly hair!
- Tina (asking about Alex): So was he a Ryan Gosling-Red Alert or a Carson Daly-Whore Cares?
- Tina (upon learning Alex is a girl): “Whoa, I did not picture Ness as a bi-nosaur”
- Jay: “Hey Eric, is it normal for a young man’s penis to malfunction?” Eric: “Papa?”
- Tina (after Anya the model leaves): “We never should have hired that angry giraffe”
And so, that’s that! We’re now all caught up in time for the finale. How have you been appreciating the last batch of new episodes? Are you excited for the return of Jane? Do you think Tina and Paul will last for a single episode? And do we miss Ness at all (personally I think they took an interesting character and immediately took away everything that made her interesting between her introduction and the start of her relationship with Jay).
Tune in next weekend for the season finale recap!
I Just Want My Pants Back airs Thursdays at 11pm EST on MTV