Well folks, we have reached the end of the road for our beloved NY hipsters. After twelve episodes, we come full circle as Jay (Peter Vack) finally meets up with the girl who stole his pants all the way back in the pilot!
In honour of this historic occasion, let’s bitch it out…It’s been a strange experience watching the show this season since I routinely watched episodes in blocks. This helped me to fully appreciate how frustrating Jay is, how amazing Tina’s (Kim Shaw) one-liners are, and how often Stacey (Elisabeth Hower) and Eric (Jordan Carlos) were stranded in boring couple-ville. Thankfully the finale is nearly pitch perfect as it builds off the show’s strengths and minimizes the irksome annoying bits. If this is merely the season finale, ‘Jerk Or Dork’ sets up a number of potential storylines for a second season. If this is the end of the line for our fearsome foursome, the episode works well enough to close the series out on a high note.
Although everyone more or less has their own story, there was a lot of thematic cross-pollination between the different storylines. Essentially the four friends grow up this week – or begin to grow up since it’s not certain whether all of their decisions will stick. I say this because everyone acted like a juvenile before they could move forward and become a little more adult.
Take Jay: in the opening teaser he finally lands a job in the music industry. This is a nice callback to his failed interview in ‘Never Trust A Whistleblower’ so it’s nice that the show finally cut Jay a break. Mature job = check. At his celebratory evening out (crashing Lench’s tenth issue party) he runs into Jane (Kelli Barrett) and then make out (Side Note: Good to see that the chemistry between Jay and Jane remains as strong as their initial hook-up in the pilot). And then the soul-crusher: she has a long-term boyfriend. Initially it’s not an issue as Jay is comfortable going back to his place. It seems like a traditional “stupid Jay” plot – wherein he acts like an idiot teenager when it comes to casual sex – but then he changes his mind, writes out his number and tells her to call him should things with her BF become less complicated. The reversal isn’t showy or revolutionary, but it’s what we would hope for after watching him pine for an entire season for the girl who stole his pants*. Sure it would have been nice to have the two of them get together, but it explains why she’s brushed him off in a logical manner. Plus the story ends on a hopeful note as he wishes her bad luck with her boy and walks away.
*It’s also more in keeping with the way that he broke off his relationship with Ness (Stephanie Brait) back in ‘Sextipated’
A similar situation unfolds in the saga of Tina and Paul (Josh Causabon). After getting freaked out because Paul buys “eggs by the carton and bread by the loaf”, Tina drinks herself into a stupour at Lench’s party and drunk texts Brett (Steve Talley). This is incredibly frustrating considering Tina has made some nice leaps and bounds as a character over the twelve episodes. In all honesty, it feels more like a “Jay kind of reaction” than a Tina reaction. Thankfully after a very public making out with Brett (she’s kinda prone to this behaviour, no?) brings out Brett’s usual douchebag behaviour, Tina comes to her senses and shows up at Paul’s with some “sketchy deli eggs” as an apology.
That leaves Stacey and Eric and – as usual – their storyline is less satisfying. This is because instead of focusing on the conflicted feelings that Eric has about moving forward with med school, the show unwisely uses their storyline to introduce Eric’s teacher-mentor, Professor Wilkins (Bruce Altman) and his hot young girlfriend, Sara (Kether Donahue). The joke that the couple is sexually frustrated with their age and lifestyle differences is trite and uninteresting. Perhaps most annoying is that it eats up valuable time that could have been used to actually explore a very relateable issue about couples who face uncertain professional futures. I get that we can view “Wilkie” as a model of what Eric could become should he continue his studies, but this whole bit feels more like a lame attempt to infuse penis jokes into a more serious subject. Hower and Carlos deserve better as actors, especially considering how often the show has isolated or given their characters weak storylines this season.
What really worked for me about this finale, though, is that even as the characters grow up and become more serious, the show doesn’t drop its raunchy, silly approach. The finale is still vulgar, crass and filled with all sorts of inappropriate jokes. The opening sequence when Jay gets his good job news on the toilet while his new bosses are at the urinals is purely in keeping with the vibe of the show. I especially liked the final scene with the four main characters on Jay’s roof, cracking one-liners, drinking and watching the sunset. Tina’s closing line “Got any weed?” hilariously reiterates that as much as the four of them grow up, they will continue to party, drink and be themselves. It feels like the perfect ending to a show that has done a great job of balancing adult comedy with a finely honed examination of the struggles of late twenty-something characters.
While I can see this as a fitting end for the show, I truly hope that MTV recognizes this comedic little gem and moves ahead with another season. I’d like to see what they do with a Tina/Paul relationship (it won’t last, but it would be worth watching), as well Eric’s new job prospects and Jay’s integration into an adult workplace.
- Tina (to Paul, in response to Jay’s job news) : “Per our friendship I am required to take him out tonight and pour whiskey down his throat until he has sex with an obese woman.”
- Stacey (sarcastically, after Tina complains about Paul): “God he bought you eggs. What a creep”
- Tina: “Ah Brett. We were destined to fail. He has a tattoo of the word tattoo.”
Best Exchange – Jane and Jay discussing their initial hook-up:
Jane: “You were a little bit of a whore”
Jay: “Ahh…no. I was a gentleman. Historically whores cost money and what we did was completely free of charge.”
Jane: “Or maybe you have a really weak pimp.”
Jay: “Yeah, he’s an emaciated hipster. He doesn’t really bitchslap anyone, he just writes really mean texts.”
What did you think of the finale, Pants–ers? Were you happy with the way that all of the storylines finished off? Were you surprised that Eric was surprised by Stacey’s supportive reaction to his decision not to continue his studies? And will you play jerk or the dork (Jay and Tina’s party game) in the future?
I Just Want My Pants Back aired on Thursday nights at 11pm EST on MTV. The first season of the show is now finished. No announcement has been made about a second season.