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'Playing House' season finale recap: Babies and bikers

Season 1 | Episodes 9 & 10 | “Let’s Have a Baby” & “Bugs in Your Eyes” | Aired June 17, 2014

Season 1 of Playing House began and ended with the little red playhouse in Maggie’s backyard. It’s more than just a cute visual aid for USA to use in promos for the show; it’s a place of refuge, a place these women retreat to in times of crisis. In the beginning, it’s Maggie who’s crouched in the tiny house, crying about her husband’s online infidelity. By the end, Emma is the one breaking down. And both times, Maggie and Emma lean on each other for support. Their friendship always wins.

Playing House lives in a world of low stakes, driven solely by its characters and their day-to-day interactions. It sounds obvious, but it’s no easy task making an audience care about the mundane. Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham don’t just charm you with their hilarious banter and improv prowess; this show works on an emotional level that isn’t often reached on television. There’s an honesty to Maggie and Emma’s friendship that adds an unquantifiable dimension to this little sitcom.

The penultimate episode, “Let’s Have a Baby,” is jam-packed with familiar sitcom tropes: the belligerent secretary, the miscommunication with the doctor, and the last-minute request for an epidural have all been seen a billion and one times. But the heart beating within this episode makes it one of the best of the season, and a perfect example of why this show is so necessary.

So yes, in “Let’s Have a Baby,” Maggie has her baby. Maggie’s usual doctor wins the lottery and drops his job and all responsibilities, leaving Maggie with an unfamiliar doctor, Doctor J (LOL), to help her through the birth. Doctor J assumes Maggie and Emma are lesbians, and they don’t deny it. Rather, they make up an elaborate backstory about how they met and fell in love. Emma was wearing a tankini bathing suit top, and Maggie, a sleeveless sweatshirt tuxedo top from Hugo Boss.


Meanwhile, Zach has just returned from doula training in New Mexico, where he apparently learned how to be a man. And Bruce has just spent seven hours at a carnival trying to win an inflatable dolphin to give to Maggie as a gift. Maggie truly is surrounded by weirdos (including Emma … and herself).


Though there is a series of miscommunications and minor complications, Maggie eventually successfully delivers her baby — who is healthy, happy and super-cute — with Emma by her side. The baby is a girl, and is named Charlotte, after Maggie’s mom. What a great pair of role models that baby is going to have! Side note: I know this is TV, but was that not the quickest birth you’ve ever seen?!

Just when you think Mark can’t get anymore perfect, he shows up the hospital with flowers and a bag of groceries for Emma — he thought they might be hungry. Before he leaves, though, he hints at problems at home with Tina.

And that brings us to the second episode, “Bugs in Your Eyes,” which takes us six weeks into the future, into the middle of crying babies and a rough patch for Mark and Tina.

Maggie is being a control freak about her baby, and that’s causing some tension between her and Emma. Emma wants to be a big part of baby Charlotte’s life, and Maggie wants that too. but she’s still majorly in new mom mode, sing-screaming “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with all her might.


Then Emma, who’s been waiting on a call from Mark about some vintage plates for Charlotte’s christening, gets a drunk call from Mark, who is at Rosie’s, drinking away his marital problems. She decides to head down there, and Maggie decides to join, arguing, “I’m not letting you go to a bar where your ex is by himself and drunk. That’s not appropriate.” GOOD POINT, MAGGIE.

When they show up, Rosie’s has been overrun by a biker gang. Between all the leather and bandanas, Mark is at the bar, sulking about losing his wedding ring in a bet. Maggie makes a pool challenge to reclaim the ring while Emma tries to get to the root of Mark’s problems. He reveals he was offered a better job as police sergeant in Stamford, Connecticut, which is three hours away. Tina doesn’t want to uproot her life, but he doesn’t want to give up an opportunity to advance his career. Not thinking, he starts to reminisce about his relationship with Emma, and they almost kiss again. But Emma does the right thing: She stops it.


Meanwhile, Maggie’s pool game is hindered by the baby carrier strapped to her chest, and she learns a lesson about letting go. Sometimes she can’t be in control of everything, and she has to be able to trust. Otherwise having a newborn will drive her totally crazy. She wins back Mark’s ring for him and they all drive home, no damage done. It seems like a happy ending, but then Mark stops by the next morning with bad news. He and Tina have decided it would be best if he didn’t see Emma, at all, in any capacity. Not even as friends. And that’s how Emma ends up in the little red house.

The episode and the season end by playing to Parham and St. Clair’s strength as a duo: emotional connection. In a tearful and tear-inducing conversation, Maggie reveals that she’s decided to give her daughter the middle name Emma. And Emma, who’s feeling more lonely than ever with the exit of Mark from her life, is overjoyed to the point of tears. These two best friends are each other’s family. It’s a sweet, heartfelt moment between two character we’ve just spend 10 episodes getting to know and love. It’s nothing huge, it’s not terribly intense, but it’s a perfectly executed little moment with a lot of heart. It’s proof that not giving this show a second season would be a big, huge mistake.

Winning one-liners:

  • “He’s the only one who knows my vagina inside and out.” — Maddie
  • “Speaking of rolled meats, I was thinking about wearing a kilt.” — Bruce
  • “Oh my god, I thought you were having an ass explosion in here!” — Emma


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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