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'Playing House' recap: The 'labor' of love

Season 1 | Episode 8 | “37 Weeks” | Aired June 10, 2014

Any story, comedy or drama, becomes more compelling with higher stakes. This week, the the two biggest running tensions in Playing House — Emma and Mark’s complicated relationship and Maggie’s pregnancy — both come to a head, and it makes for an oh-so-satisfying half-hour of television.

Maggie is officially 37 weeks pregnant, meaning she could technically go into labor at any time. This info sends her spiraling into a tornado of home improvement. Everything has to be perfect for when the baby shows up! Emma steps in to calm Maggie down and organize a task force (made up of Mark, her mom, Mr. Nanjiani and other random townspeople) to get the house baby-ready. While Maggie and Mr. Nanjiani set up the baby monitor, Emma and Mark are on kitchen-painting duty. Sticking the two of them together in a room immediately creates a ticking time bomb of emotion. When Emma overhears Mark being super-cheesy on the phone with his wife Tina (aka Birdbones), she of course taunts him. They get in a fight, get distracted from their work and end up accidentally getting paint all over Maggie, who then tells them that to make it up to her, they need to paint the entire house.

9hd5zRefocused and a little bit calmer, Emma reflects on how she has been acting, and on how she treated Mark when he proposed to her. They try to talk out their issues and Mark reveals some crucial information: He would’ve gone with Emma to China — all she had to do was ask. Emma is shocked: She had assumed he would never leave his hometown. But his plans for the future weren’t centered around staying in Pinebrook; they were centered around staying with her. At that, Emma finally apologizes, but Mark doesn’t let it go so easily. He takes the opportunity to flirtatiously coax Emma into repeating her apology over and over again, inching closer each time she says “sorry” until … they’re almost kissing?! (Side note: Anyone else feel really guilty for totally swooning over this moment? Poor Birdbones …)

But they’re stopped short by the magic of sitcom timing. In walks Tina, who just arrived to help out around the house. Emma and Mark jump apart and drop their conversation, but the China revelation is only the beginning of Mark’s list of secrets: He also neglected to tell Tina that he had proposed to Emma and been rejected. Not knowing to keep her mouth shut, Maggie spills the beans about the Mark/Emma proposal to Tina, and the love triangle ends up in a kitchen confrontation. Cracking under the stress of the situation, Emma makes matters even worse by also revealing to Tina that Mark would’ve gone to China with her.

9hd5aTina is heartbroken, Emma is confused and shots are fired. The argument escalates to name-calling, and Emma’s secret nickname from high school is revealed. Tina was Birdbones, Maggie was String Bean and Emma was Monster Mash. No, not because she was a heartless monster who mashed people’s emotions, but because of a terrible tap dance routine she performed to the song “Monster Mash” at her eighth grade talent show. Just when you think it can’t get anymore chaotic, Maggie enters with the kicker: She also hooked up with Mark! Post-Emma and pre-Tina, they made out on a waterbed (jeans on). Emma is immediately upset, but Tina doesn’t understand why. Why should Emma care about Maggie and Mark hooking up if she was over him when she left the country? (Good Q, Birdbones.)

Bp0Mu-rCUAETsv3Before Emma can answer Tina’s climactic question, Maggie goes into labor. Emma thinks it’s an act at first, fabricated to get her out of explaining her makeout with Mark, but it’s 100 percent real. Maggie is really having the baby, but just as they’re rushing her to the hospital, the episode ends. (Cliffhanger, much?)

The Mark and Emma relationship (Is there a name for them yet? Memma? Tumblr, make it happen) — has been tricky since day one, with undeniable chemistry between the two of them, constantly and awkwardly underlined by the fact that Mark is a married man. On a show so focused on the importance of female relationships, the idea of Mark cheating on Tina with Emma is totally gross. Yet even despite that fact and Birdbones’ quirky charm, on some level, you still root for the two of them to get together romantically. It feels pretty weird.

Luckily, complicated relationships often produce great comedic moments, and this episode is proof of that. As things get more and more ridiculous, the jokes get funnier and funnier. And this was only episode 8! According to Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, the craziest moments of season 1 are slated for next week’s penultimate episode. In the style of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, the season’s biggest shockers will come in the second-to-last episode. Hold on to your jammers, Jammers. Next week’s double-episode finale is sure to be intense. (And will probably include a baby.)

Winning one-liners:

  • “Obviously it’s not my goal to destroy a vagina.” — Maggie’s doctor
  • “Is this your correct email? I wanna send you some pics I found online of what we don’t want going on down there.” — Emma
  • “Has anyone warned you about the possibility of your baby being switched at birth?” — Emma’s mom
  • “Let’s go destroy that vagina!” — Emma

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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