“Bruce, why are child soldiers… in South Sudan… wearing t-shirts with my face on them?”
Things spiral out of control… pretty quickly here. Child soldiers have begun to wear the shirts made during Bamford’s heyday as the Checklist spokesperson. They, and so consequently the media, have nicknamed her “Maria ‘bam bam’ Bamford” and say she funds these child soldiers. Late show hosts cover it in their monologues. The BBC picks it up. Things go from there.
Bamford gets all of this news when she’s out with her recent boyfriend, Scott. Never before has it been so clear that Scott is the perfect audience surrogate. Not only is he new to Bamford’s life, and so we learn something when he learns something, but he gives the reactions a normal person would when Bamford says something wild. It’s the one strand of television comedy the show had been missing, so gleefully revelling in its own absurdity to want to keep any feet on the ground.
Bruce tries to put out this media fire by taking to Bamford’s twitter account, where he throws everything at the wall to see what sticks: Bamford’s pregnant, she loves children (“…even the brown ones?”), she thinks “fighting is whack.” Of course, when Bamford finds out, she explodes at Bruce, who is always poised to call her his sweet chrysanthemum, or some other specific delicate flower.
The dynamics of every character and every style of comedy are in full force in “Mein Ramp.” Everything from Bert the Dog jokes to Lucas Bros’ jokes soar. But the dynamics at play don’t just include comedy, they include Bamford’s illness. At one point, in Bruce’s office, she yells, “This. Is really. Freaking me out!” and it’s heartbreaking, not funny. We’ve spent so much time with her, and seen her try time and again to grow. The fact that it’s the work of Bruce that threatens to push her sanity back away is genuinely tragic.
Only a show cleverly built under the guise of comedy could pull off a sentimental scene while a man that looks like Bruce does wears a dress and earrings, “method tweeting” as Bamford.
We get a well-timed visit to The Duluth, where Bamford spends time with her terrible friend Susan, easily one of the worst results of her illness; she can’t leave this person behind, and she must. She watches Susan do a terrible minute of stand-up in her living room. When Bamford isn’t ridiculously impressed, Susan says she’s just jealous, both of her comedy and of her marriage to Paul. Bamford denies this, which is good, because she definitely should not be jealous. “It’s weird… You want him to be sad!” Very sweet irony comes when Paul arrives and announces he’s gay, and that Bamford helped him realize it. Susan deserves no one.
In the present, Bamford goes on Kimmle (not a typo), a show filmed inside of a garage. It’s realized that it was Chantrelle’s son who put the word out that Bruce, knowing Bamford didn’t like the t-shirts, had them sent to Africa! I will never understand why the writers on this show choose certain threads to follow over multiple episodes, and I don’t want to.
In the Past, we get another look at Bamford’s time filming commercials for Checklist. She’s overdoing it. She’s tired. The director can’t stand her and gives her some real verbal abuse. Really, she isn’t tired. She’s been taking medication for her hypomania, which she has neglected to tell her then-perfect man, Graham. She nearly falls asleep mid-conversation with him. The periods are bleeding into one another. This is how Graham leaves her. You can see it’s the start of the Duluth.
Possibly the saddest moment in this episode comes not when Graham leaves her, but when Bamford decides to dump all her medication in the trash; that way, she gets her much needed energy to finish the Checklist commercial. She nails it. Later at home, she searches for her two dogs, Bert and Blossom. Why have we not heard about Blossom prior to this? Well… it’s because Blossom got into the medication Bamford threw out. By going off her meds, she killed her dog on its birthday, and no doubt this is going to send her downhill.
In The Present, the stress of Bruce’s mess with the child soldiers causes her to break up with Scott in a heartbreaking way: with the exact words Graham used on her, years before.
This episode gives great comedy, but also grapples with Bamford’s illness, and that’s exactly what I wanted from this show. If they could break the fourth wall a little more, it would be perfect.
Note: Funny how Susan wanted Bamford to help Paul write his own will. Hm…
Some Bits I Liked:
- “Yeah, we don’t think it’s racist at all…”
- Clink clink!
- “My Athenian goddess!”
- “Really, Trevin? You choose now to do some decent space work? You unholy bastard. Back to one!”
- Oh my god the callback to, “I’m 45, that would be unsafe.” What a payoff!
- “Thunda from down unda.”
- The Lexus!?
- “My mom had a miscarriage. But I made it.”
- “Can’t we fight about this at least?”
- “Cradle the balls and work the shaft!” makes a triumphant return.
- “I don’t need drugs, ’cause I got puuuuugs rahhhh!”
- Cheap shot at Matthew Perry, but I still love you, Bert.
- Bert’s voice over.