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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
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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