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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.