The Bushwick dwelling, horse-partment shared by Mad Max and Sweet Caroline is about to get a lot less horsey on 2BG following “And the Reality Check,” directed by Fred Savage (on holiday from Happy Endings, I guess?). Don’t expect a continuation of the stories involving Johnny and Cash or the girls’ start-up cupcake biz – this episode is more of a one-off.
For the first time, Sweet Caroline realizes that winter, with its harshly cold temperatures and punishing snowstorms, aren’t always fun and games for those with less money. Mad Max sees an opportunity knocking when the rich Manhattanite for whom she nannies, Peaches (how long has it been since we’ve seen her?!), tries out for the fictional Real Housewives of Tribeca (since I’ve never seen an episode of any of these, it might very well have been real).
Mad Max thinks that Chestnut, Sweet Caroline’s horse, would fare better under a rich family’s care, and the idea of having Sweet Caroline emerging from a scandal-ridden cocoon is music to Peaches’ insensitive social-climbing ears. So the two find an appropriate stable for Chestnut and show up at Peaches’ apartment with the cameras rolling and bid farewell to their equine roomie.
This episode is a perfect example of the contrast between the capabilities of its two leading ladies. Kat Dennings still has trouble landing a line without sounding like a desperate stand-up act, telegraphing punch lines from a mile away. And in the episode’s final scene, when she is supposed to emote as Mad Max says goodbye to Chestnut, her readings felt entirely phony. I’ve seen better fake crying in elementary school shows. It’s not until Sweet Caroline comes back and comforts Mad Max that the scene feels anything more than hollow.
And this frustrates me because Beth Behrs consistently exhibits terrific, professional work on a weekly basis here, avoiding traps that would make Sweet Caroline seem overly naïve or dippy or spoiled. Watching her snap in and out of her rich girl persona upon meeting with Peaches was instructional; it demonstrated how different Sweet Caroline’s world is now from the one she used to know, and how she has been changed by it. Behrs proves that comedy – even a CBS one – doesn’t mean a performance still can’t be smart and subtle.
(One other thing: can we please integrate Garrett Morris into the plot a bit more? The actor is a television comedy icon. He deserves at least one episode in which his character does more than toss off a forgettable bon mot.)
We leave the girls idling $621.25, but I have a feeling things are about to change soon. Will there be more Johnny? A man for Sweet Caroline? Maybe even a triangle with the two girls and Johnny? Not sure. We’ll just have to wait and see what next week’s ep – the last of 2011 – will bring.
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