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'Friends With Better Lives' recap: Handy Randy and the rat

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Pros & Cons” | Aired Apr 28, 2014

We open on Kate waking up after a one-night stand with a dashing gentleman who apparently showed her quite the good time. Their post-coital bliss ends abruptly when dashing gent asks Kate how she’ll be paying for last night’s sexcapades. Now, I can’t say I have any personal experience with hiring a prostitute, but from what I’ve seen on TV and in movies, I’m pretty sure sex trade workers make sure to get the money up front. I also think that legally, it’s supposed to be made explicitly clear in advance that one person is exchanging money for goods and services (which in this case are sexual), and what those goods and services will entail (like how Vivian tells Edward she doesn’t do kissing on the mouth in Pretty Woman).

It strikes me as a little implausible that Kate and her escort would get all the way to the morning after before he asks her to pay. About as implausible as a Harvard Business School-educated person chalking up sleeping with a hooker to a “small miscommunication.” To make matters worse, his name is “Handy Randy,” and you can bet your bottom dollar that terrible name of a Chekhov’s gun will be going off in the third act. And by “that gun,” I mean, “someone will see his penis,” because this is a show that’s more sex-obsessed than Freud.

Boom: End cold open; commence #openingcredits. #hashtags #are #so #in #yoloCBS, amiright?

The gang is hanging out on the couch at Andi (whose name I have to Google every time I want to write about her) and Bobby’s house, so we can have the B and C storylines introduced to us with maximum scatological humor. Jules announces that she has a commercial for a hair-care line the next day. The other characters don’t even pretend to care, so I’ll just forget that she exists for at least half of this episode, too. Will enters and proclaims that he’s officially divorced — although he doesn’t seem that upset about losing more than half his assets, including his house and dog. I guess it’s true when they say “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” Luckily, the gang doesn’t have to dwell on the grim realities of alimony and asset allocation for too long because a giant rat in the wall makes his presence very, very known.

Nothing breaks up a killer hang sesh with six 30-somethings like a Godzilla-sounding rodent, so they all scatter — but not before Lowell borrows Will’s jacket because it’s chilly outside. And yes, that becomes a major plotline because Lowell needs a reason to be in the episode, and this is a show where borrowing a jacket from a friend can be elevated to B-story status. Except the jacket is really a manifestation of Will’s out-of-control feelings surrounding his divorce and loss of belongings, both personal and metaphorical. I just made it sound a lot deeper than it is. In reality, we just get to watch two grown men obsessing over a snug leather jacket.

“Let’s get back to the rat!” I’m sure you’re saying. Andi tells Bobby to hire an exterminator, but he goes all alpha and insists he can catch it himself. If I earned anywhere close to a gynecologist’s salary, do you know what I wouldn’t do myself? Catch extremely large rodents that might be carrying harmful viruses or bacteria, which could be transferred to my young child, pregnant wife or numerous pregnant patients. Bobby the paleo-provider wants to do this himself, though, so Andi and their son (whom I think we’re seeing for the first forgettable time here) go to stay with Kate. And since the jacket plotline can’t occupy all of Will’s time, he goes to help Bobby catch the rat. Multitasking!

Pros and ConsThe whole suburban male doctor catching a wild animal doesn’t go too well (shocker). Bobby falls through the ceiling of his bedroom and admits he needs to hire a handyman (remember what I said about the Handy Randy smoking gun in act one?). Will spies Kate with Randy’s business card and passes it along to Bobby, thinking he’s a normal contractor. Handy Randy shows up at Bobby’s home, and we’re privy to five minutes of the most uncomfortable innuendo that has ever been scripted. The painful exchange ends when Will and Bobby ask to see Randy’s “tools,” and he shows them “the only one he needs.” That’s when it finally dawns on Will: He doesn’t think Handy Randy is a contractor! Side note: Let’s hope he’s quicker on the uptake when it comes to doctoring. To be fair, he’s an OB/GYN, not a urologist.

Andi’s making fun of her husband for “almost sleeping with a manwhore” (sure, that’s what happened — not the world’s most sitcommy misunderstanding involving a hooker with a double-entendre business card) when Jules and Lowell walk in. Jules announces she booked the Shimmering Essence commercial — for which she nailed the fake hair-care product version of “I’ll have what she’s having”: “It’s in my hair” —  but now said hair is falling out. Lowell is going to use it to make a dream pillow! Those are two actual “characters” that exist on a television show in 2014. I’m just going to move on.

In the final tag, Andi and Bobby are getting ready for bed and discussing the rat situation. “I think all the rats are probably gone,” Bobby says. “Oh, totally, I’m sure of it,” Andi replies. The camera pans left, and we see that Will is still staying at their house. He’s clearly not ready to deal with how much of his former life is gone after the divorce, so Andi and Bobby say he can stay with them another night. Then they move over so he can climb into bed with them. I don’t even have a closing quip about it; this show is like a stereotype wrapped in a caricature, surrounded by indifference.

Next week: Andi finds out, seemingly for the first time, that several of Bobby’s patients are Playboy models. I don’t understand why she’s freaking out; to me all that means is that her husband knows which strains of hepatitis everyone has. Fingers crossed for A and C.

Friends With Better Lives, rated TV-14, airs on CBS on Mondays at 8:30/7:30 C.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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