Warning: Spoiler Alert
John begins this episode like all of them with a standup excerpt. In many cases, using new material. Tonight was an old classic. The “Helta” or “Belta” Airlines piece is actually somewhat anecdotal to the bigger bit of dating a Jewish woman. This bit illustrates how much getting ‘pushed around’ he will endure until his Jewish girlfriend will point out a very logical alternative to allowing oneself to be pushed around.
Side note: If any of this episode seemed familiar, it wasn’t a rerun. A decent amount of tonight’s episode was used in promotions including but not limited to the “Mulaney: An Opening Act” preview special that aired a week before the first episode.
There is a pattern of disrespect or at least a pattern of small slights that have accumulated in Mulaney’s mind. Motif attempts to pay rent with “Motif Merchandise”. Jane can’t pay rent because she has run out of checks and refuses to discover how to get more, or at least that’s the story she’s going with. Motif’s girlfriends also have a tendency to use up shower time and then the ladies in question make off with John’s jeans.
Jane has become a cat person. Not for some deep-rooted affection for cats, but because she dates men so that she doesn’t have to sleep alone. Buying a cat allows her to potentially not sleep alone, and skip passed the annoyance of dating men. This will probably not go well. His name is Omar.
Lou badly wants to star in a Martin Scorsese film about the Florida Party Boy Murderer. John sees the disconnect between Lou’s desire and the reality of the character not fitting Lou, but Lou doesn’t. However, Lou’s strategy to incorporate ‘power moves’ as a means to get respect, very much appeals to John. Not for a movie part, but to reel in his roommates.
Motif and Jane talk about the benefit of having a cat and makes the mistake of assuming that Jane and Omar are sleeping together. Jane is ready and willing, but Omar doesn’t jump in the bed with just anyone. Then Motif’s girlfriend of this particular scene comes out holding Omar. This sparks some cute version of Jane’s feminine jealousy. Andre walks in just in time to find out about Omar.
Jane: Hey Andre, I got a cat. I’m done with men.
Andre: Whoa. You’re done with men so you skip right past dogs and ‘Andres’ and go to cats?
(Jane walks away)
Andre: What do I have to do to win you Jane?
John walks in and Motif informs him that the shower/jeans situation is happening again. Then John puts on a hat (on the top of his head as to not mess up his hair), that makes him look like Duckie from Pretty In Pink. This single move seems to scare Motif and Andre. Motif decides to get John’s jeans back and deal with the large box that needs to go down to the curb. This power move interests Motif’s latest girlfriend. John lays on her the limpest handshake in human history and it works as well.
Oscar stops by the apartment as Jane is looking for Omar. They have one of those conversations where they both believe they are talking about the same thing, when in fact they are almost having two completely different conversations. Oscar makes a reference to ‘messing with his coconut’ which was directed at Omar. Then John walks in and treats Motif as if they are not acquainted. Once John is out of view, Motif realizes that John has been messing with his coconut.
Jane gives Motif a folder of embarrassing things she’s collected over the years about John. Which Motif is happy to use to his advantage. He returns later and John attempts his power move nonsense. Only this time, Motif is prepared. With religious guilt, a basketball, and a phrase intended to pull out a cheer from John’s mascot days.
Motif: Hey John, what does “B” stand for?
John: B stands for blessed and V stands for virgin. Blessed virgin, I’m a virgin, go-ooooo boys!
(Motif displays an animated sinister head nod)
John: You! Whoa. Whoa
John: Oh, it is on!
What follows is a lovely video montage set to, what I’m told is N’Sync music. A series of shots that show Motif and John doing various things and being disrupted by the efforts of the other. While also including Jane doing anything and everything to get Omar’s attention, like what a woman might do to get a man’s attention. Culminating in John waking up in the middle of the night to discover the large box has been placed in his bed. And ultimately, Omar sneaking into Jane’s room, ripping back the sheets and Jane being part scared part excited, like she’s about to be ravaged.
John shows up to the set wearing a tank top he was forced to wear after Motif donated all of his clothes. Lou takes a moment to illustrate how far John has taken the power move strategy. Insinuating that he has become a monster. Like the Florida Party Murderer guy. John chooses to drop it and so does Motif. At least they have Jane. And on cue, Jane walks out with what is politely referred to as ‘sex hair’. She’s been sleeping with Omar, although she is very clear to point out that it was just cuddling. So, for now, everything is back to normal.
Editorial Note: This is now the second show in as many weeks that has caught me. Second episode in a row that I have laughed (or cackled) out loud at my television. I don’t know what Fox or the critics are hoping for, but in my book that is “mission accomplished” for a sitcom. The television landscape is flooded with dramas of all kinds. There are very few sitcoms that can hold an American viewer. It might be time to let the ‘Seinfeld rip off’ cliché go. It is an homage at the very most. The show works. The story lines and plot points are right in that spectrum for what should be expected for a sitcom. Furthermore, this is a throw back to the sitcoms of the 80’s and 90’s. All in the Family and The Cosby Show it is not. However, in a television landscape that seems to be dominated by high quality dramas, an obscene amount of bad (and in most cases, reality in type) mindless shows, and a sprinkling of decent sitcoms here and there, Mulaney is exactly what it’s supposed to be. Fox, critics, and general television rabble-rousers need to take a step back and view this show for what it is, and not for what it isn’t even trying to be.