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'Playing House' recap: Spaghetti and strippers

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Spaghetti and Meatballs” | Aired June 3, 2014

What’s a spaghetti dinner without a few meatballs? This week, the Pinebrook Police takes to the stage to shake their junk and earn some money for the annual police station fundraiser, and it’s pretty much a win-win for everyone involved.

The beginning of the episode reminds us of Emma’s current life situation (single, in her thirties and just quit her high-powered job) with a newspaper headline. Turns out Emma’s former assistant, Riuchi, took over for her when she left, and he just closed the deal she had been working on. He even got to cut a ribbon with giant pair of scissors! Emma’s left feeling deflated and jealous … and then opportunity comes knocking in the form of Mark and a fundraiser.

Mark has been tasked with organizing the Pinebrook Police Station’s annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and he’s less than thrilled by the prospect of taking on all that extra work. Luckily, Emma is more than happy to step in and help. She even has some ideas for revamping the evening, including changing the boring spaghetti dinner into a full-on casino night, complete with cocktails, gambling and stripping cops. 

9bijnMark is immediately opposed to undressing on stage, but likes the rest of Emma’s plan, and trusts her judgment enough to let her organize the event despite some misgivings. But instead of respecting his wishes, she goes behind his back and organizes a strip show anyway. Turns out the other officers aren’t quite as closed-minded; the rest of the guys are eager to get on stage and strut their stuff. The only hesitant cop, played by Bobby Moynihan, is self-conscious about his dancing abilities after being told by his ex-girlfriend that he looks like a “big pig.” But Maggie is a Class A dancing coach, and she inspires each and every one of the dudes to be confident in his body and his love of dance.

9bijkWhen Mark discovers that they have been preparing to strip against his wishes, he gives in to Emma’s plan, with the stipulation that anything that goes wrong is on her. Everyone in town gets excited for the show, but no one is more excited than the police squad. After two days of practicing and a rousing speech from Maggie, in which she urges them to unify as “one crotch,” they are finally ready to take the stage. But Emma’s business-oriented mindset gets in the way. Worried that the “meatballs” just aren’t good enough, she hires a professional male stripper from Miami (with a toucan thong!) to perform with the guys. Not wanting to get shirtless next to a professional, they all drop out at the last minute.

9bijbThe professional stripper may be good at his job, but he’s not what the people paid to see. The crowd boos and throws spaghetti at him, while Emma tries to manage the crisis. She makes a plea for the cops to get out on stage, but this isn’t a movie. They won’t do it. Just when it seems all hope is lost, Keegan-Michael Key swoops in to save the day. (It might not be a movie, but it definitely is television.) As he undresses and gyrates on stage, the other cops are inspired to join in. Soon the whole police force is dancing to “Pony” by Ginuwine and the crowd is loving it.

Emma learns another valuable lesson about transitioning from big business into a small-town community. Sometimes community is more important than being “the best.” The audience didn’t pay to see a professional stripper; they paid to see their lovable meatballs get weird on stage. In a twisted but sweet way, it’s like a parent attending his or her child’s school play: It’s not about being Broadway-quality, it’s about supporting someone you care about. Even when those people you care about are naked men.

9bij5Winning one-liners:

  • “For your homework tonight, I would like you to go home and journal about what dance means to you. Also, shave your balls.” — Maggie
  • “It’s from a porno. It’s a porno called Cops and Throbbers, which is a porno.” — Emma
  • “Get nasty with that butt!” — Maggie
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