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'Playing House' recap: Making big, huge mistakes

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “Drumline” | Aired May 20, 2014

Life is all about making mistakes and learning from them. Everyone worries they’ve gone down the wrong path at some point. With her crazy cheating husband and a baby on the way, Maggie’s life is totally insane, and up until now she has always managed to stay calm and brave in the face of trouble. This week, the usually rational and put-together Maggie falls apart, but it’s OK. Because Emma steps up and helps put the pieces back together.

tumblr_n5ohopfGFf1ruohw5o2_500When Maggie’s high school drumline has a reunion performance, Emma encourages her to go and participate, both because Maggie does a killer crab walk, and because C.J. (Jason Mantzoukas), her unrequited teenage crush with “raven black locks and a Rush T-shirt,” will be there. “You only have a few more times to blow it out before this baby comes and ruins your life,” Emma warns before adding, “In a good way!”

http---makeagif.com--media-5-21-2014-O8c2W5While Maggie is warming up her snare-drum skills for her performance, C.J. sneaks up on her in the band room and they share a flirtatious back-and-forth … with their drums. C.J. even comes up behind Maggie to adjust her harness. It’s super-romantic in a really dorky way.

After the performance, all the drummers and their friends head to a local bar to celebrate. It’s there that Emma meets C.J. and his ragtag group of weirdo friends, including Rodney (John Lutz, 30 Rock), who, it turns out, is kind of obsessed with her. When the guys invite them out, Maggie wants to take advantage of the opportunity to live it up a little bit. For once, Emma is more reserved. She was hoping that instead, they could steal a bunch of mini cupcakes and then gone home to watch Gilmore Girls. (I feel you, Emma.)

But Emma eventually gives in, wanting to make the night fun and special for her best friend, who’s struggling with regret about her marriage and anxiety about her baby. C.J. reminds her of her teenage years, and she wants to hold onto that feeling as long as she can. That’s how Maggie and Emma end up chillin’ in C.J.’s van (which has a wolf howling at the moon painted on it) and breaking into the local JCC swimming pool.

Maggie, Emma and the dudes disrobe for some late night skinny-dipping. C.J. notices Maggie’s hesitancy with her baby belly and offers her his infamous Rush T-shirt. Because, you know, in an alternate universe he would’ve kept it anyway. They swim around in the beautiful blue light of the pool while soft acoustic guitar underscores the moment. Then our expectations are foiled — things aren’t quite as romantic as they seem. Spending more time with C.J. just makes him more annoying and less attractive to Maggie, and as Emma gets to know Rodney, he becomes surprisingly endearing. He almost drowns with happiness after Emma compliments a mural he painted, and when she saves him, he confesses that this is the best night of his life. It’s pretty sad, but still kinda cute.

Maggie is finally about to kiss C.J. (out of exasperation, not passion) when the moment is ruined by the sound of cop cars outside. C.J. and his friends flee the scene while Maggie and Emma are left alone in the pool with Rodney. The cops, including Mark, walk in asking for explanations. Rodney attempts to “create a diversion” for Emma by running at an officer, but ends up getting himself Tased. Who says chivalry is dead?

tumblr_n5w8zlydtp1qchkoho1_250 2tumblr_n5w8zlydtp1qchkoho4_250

Back at the station, Maggie is having a nervous breakdown in the interrogation room, refusing to sign her release and demanding a phone call and some pizza. Emma steps in to talk some sense into her, and the two best friends/partners in crime (literally) share their most intimate scene of the season so far (yes, more intimate than the boob grab). Maggie confesses that her breakdown isn’t about C.J., but about feeling like all she does is mess up. She wonders how she didn’t see her husband’s weirdness coming and laments making so many “big, huge mistakes.” Emma admits her own regrets, including the way she handled Mark’s proposal — which he hears from the other side of the mirrored wall. Then she puts it all in perspective, telling Maggie, “You would not be the interesting, amazing person that you are if you hadn’t made those mistakes. And you certainly wouldn’t have this little nugget. And guess what? I’m gonna hit you with this truth: You’re gonna be the most amazing mom.

Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair’s chemistry is especially palpable in this scene, as they both hold back tears and lean on each other for support. It’s the show’s most honest confession of the feelings surrounding the sudden changes going on in our protagonists’ lives to date, but they still keep the funny going, riffing about a hypothetical STD caught on a Grecian island. That’s what Playing House excels at: fostering the heart of a truly loving relationship, while still maintaining an undercurrent of humor at all times.

tumblr_n57ko9Hpjk1ruohw5o10_r1_250The episode ends with a hilarious send-off for C.J., who strolls off into the horizon with a snare drum strapped to his chest, and a big kiss between Emma and Rodney. Maggie and Emma walk home after their night of adventure, and “Limelight” by Rush plays them off. As long as they have each other, everything’s gonna be all right.

Winning one-liners:

  • “I think that man just toasted me with his cocktail wiener.” — Emma
  • “How good does it feel to see that someone you were hung up on now looks like an extra from Game of Thrones?” — Emma
  • “I’m reading this book by that robot Stephen Hawking …” — C.J.
  • “Get outta the pool, Daryl Hannah — everybody’s seen it.” — Maggie
  • “Pizza is not a right.” — Cop (I beg to differ.)
  • “I can’t even get a dumb guy who looks like Wolfman Jack to kiss me.” — Maggie

 Playing House, rated TV-14, airs Tuesdays at 10/9 C on USA.

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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