“I’m not sure how much is too much.”
Bamford fears getting stuck on the “hollywood hamster wheel” again. It’s a reasonable fear. In the span of the cold open, a conversation between her and Bruce goes from filled with wonderful possibilities to filled with all the same possibilities; however, they’ve become terrifying, just because of a few thoughtless comments from Bruce. “Get some rest, you look tired.” “You have to slow down.” It’s a cold open that starts so high (the restaurant they’re in is named “Deebags”) and ends so low, with no joke before launching in to the titles.
This show is made up of highs and lows. There are episodes that are highs and lows, and there are scenes within the episodes that are highs and lows. It’s possible this is meant to mirror Bamford’s mental episodes. It can be draining, but it can also be affective. The jokes literally seem like highs when they come in big waves like they do in this episode. The trouble with a structure like this for episodes is if there are too many that end on a low. Luckily, we’ve been on a high recently.
Here, we find Jenny Slate as Bamford’s life coach Karen Grisham (yeah, another one, see the Some Bits I Liked), a fast-talking poet of swears. Hoop earrings and black frizzy hair, she could be the twin sister to Janice from Friends. She recognizes Bamford’s feeling overly stressed, and she explains she shouldn’t be. “Those hollywood fuck faces” should be. She recommends her twin, Karl Grisham, a loaf (not a typo) coach specialist. He’s a colourful character. He goes on a rant about Ben Franklin being the original hipster. His place is located right next to his twin’s. The only pieces of furniture there are some bean bag chairs and some low-hanging rope. He decides he’s going to shadow coach her for a week.
Like usual, we get a visit to The Past where we see something tangentially related. In this case, it’s when Bamford pushed herself “a little too hard.” We pick up the storyline from last episode’s The Past segment with the man who was (on paper) perfect for her, but wound up having such poor credit he couldn’t rent anywhere, and she took him in. Here, she wakes up one morning with a signed head shot from him and a path of rose petals that leads to… an omelette bar with bowls of other petals, and the man himself in the middle of lifting weights. She offers to spend all day with his visiting children. A clear example of taking too much on. Why, Bamford? Why!
She takes his kids out on a great day while she’s at set. They’re all about ten years old. We get a montage of the experiences. Besides set, they go to get ice cream, go on a roller coaster, take funny pictures, the famous Vietnam War execution picture, a nice portrait, a family photo, and a video of the atomic bombs! They arrive home after their day and they’re all between 16 and 21. What? Maria’s gone off the rails again. She took too much on and her perception messed up. The day, in reality, was clearly pretty bad, so bad that the eldest son treats her like you would a senile great great relative. Just as the man’s about to break up with Bamford, she asks him to marry her. Why, Bamford? Why!
In the present, during a loaf sesh, Bamford gets a call from Apatow. It’s the funniest scene in the episode. He offers her a part in a big movie (“Feig is in, Melissa McCarthy, Wiig, Schumer, and in kind of a large supporting part, Nancy Reagan!”). Karl Grisham strong-arms her into passing. Why, Bamford? Why! Even if his line to strong-arm her is great. “Sometimes you gotta say no to the best to have the rest.”
There’s the tipping point. Already she knows she needs a happy medium between a full plate and no plate.
In a short trip to The Duluth, the worst part of her past, things end up happy! Bamford has to mentor a young stand-up. The stand-up is the daughter of one of Bamford’s mom’s friends. After Bamford helps the stand-up tailor her entire act around insulting her mother, Bamford learns the mother has terminal cancer. It is tragic. Bamford takes the hit hard. She feels so, so guilty. To fix this, she plays the violin for her own mother, something she has always refused to do since a young age. Their relationship is better for it. Bamford thanks her for always being a mom and taking the hits.
In the present, she realizes she needs the Apatow part. She begs. Apatow says he already gave it to Sarah Silverman. “Ooh she’s so good.” “Yeah.” “Yeah.” She goes and begs Sarah Silverman (who’s lounging with a mostly silent, but great Tig Notaro) for the part. Silverman agrees on one condition: Bamford must complete a scavenger hunt. The list is too good to spoil, so I won’t. Bamford completes it, returns to Silverman, and asks for the part. Silverman gives her the part. Table read is at 8am the next day.
Bamford wakes up late and misses the table read, but she’s comforted by her magically talking pug, who tells her not to take this as a failure, but a win. She fought for what she wanted, and she (basically) got it.
I’m not sure what any of this means for the season arc, but it was a very entertaining detour.
Note: Anyone else impressed with Apatow’s acting ability? I know he’s just playing (a probably not even fictional version of) himself, but he seemed so natural!
Some Bits I Liked:
- Every secondary character’s last name is Grisham? How! There’s Ana Gasteyer’s Karen Grisham, world class agent; June Diane Raphael’s Karen Grisham, world class realtor; Jenny Slate’s Karen Grisham, life coach; Jason Mantzoukas’ Karl Grisham, loaf coach specialist (and Slate’s Karen’s twin)
- “Look, I know the reward said 500 bucks, but, what are you gonna do? Keep my dog? You’d be a fuckin’ asshole. Here’s five bucks.”
- “Ben franklin.” “The guy with electricity?” “Yeah! And the condescending glasses!”
- The different clips from The Past we’ve seen have begun to form a fuller picture. I’m curious what the picture will look like when it’s completely finished. My guess is a Shakespearean-level tragedy.
- I love a good zoom joke
- The ENTIRE Judd Apatow first scene. That’s why he’s the Juddernaut! The Judd-i! Paul Rudd’s Judd! The Apatow For Destruction! Champion of all women!
- The little eyebrow raise after “And one time, I ate dog food at a party.” is fucking incredible
- “Must be gettin’ her pyramid…”
- So glad the one scene with Bruce screenwriting in a coffee shop pays off