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'Seed' premiere recap: Only the strongest swimmers survive

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Ill Conceived” | Aired July 14, 2014

Harry Dacosta (Adam Korson) plays a video game in which he kills a prostitute and can get extra points if he steals a car. Jeez, what do you get if the prostitute is driving the car? No wonder he doesn’t notice his girlfriend is breaking up with him. When she sees the tiny lookalike tot (William Ainscough) knocking at Harry’s door, she wonders if she feels more like a mistress than a girlfriend because he’s married. Harry assures her he’s not married: “I’d never do that to me.” Which pretty much gives us a good picture of Harry in one go.

harry in his flatDespite dismissing said tot at the door, the kid slips inside the apartment the third time girlfriend tries to leave. He drops the bomb that Harry got the kid’s mom pregnant. “Cancun?” Harry moans. Turns out Harry deposited a bunch of product at a sperm bank about 15 years ago and now his progeny, Billy the Kid (yeah, I went there), is coming to call.

Welcome to Seed.

SeedBilly trails Harry into a bar called The Pour House and rattles off all his accomplishments like it’s Bring Your Dad to the Paternity Test Day. Harry works as a bartender—surprise!—which actually is a surprise to Billy, who, thanks to the sperm bank bio, thinks Harry is a doctor who went to Princeton. Billy even brought Harry a Princeton T-shirt. That’s a long trip for a 9-year-old to drive on his own. Harry’s boss, Irene (Vanessa Matsui), thinks the kid is running a scam, but Billy just got a friend to look up Harry’s donor number, XC3000, a designation that thrills Harry: “I’m like a sperm robot sent from the future!” Billy keeps calling him “Dad,” which makes Harry cringe since their situation is different. Billy the Kid knows different since he’s got two moms—lesbians, not Mormons.

Harry tries to take Billy home, but the kid won’t give up his address. Irene is no help: “I’m not maternal. My womb only accepts incoming.” I can already tell Irene is going to be my favorite. Harry plans to get Billy’s address from the sperm bank. He’s also wearing the Princeton T-shirt. They sit at a bus stop, and Billy mirrors Harry’s positions and mannerisms. When asked, Harry tells Billy he can’t run from a bully: “Yes I can. My legs are short, but they’re fast.” This kid is giving new definition to “precocious.” Harry encourages Billy to stand up for himself with Sam the bully and be the alpha dog, pointing out, “School’s a lot like those prison movies.” He’s not wrong.

On the bus, Harry hits on Rose (Carrie-Lynn Neales), who’s charmed by chick magnet Billy. Harry plays the Doctor Princeton card and offers to have a fling with Rose. But all she wants is unconditional love via a kid, so she’s going to the sperm bank. School trip!

Harry gets Billy’s address off his backpack and brings him home. His moms are not happy with Billy’s escapades, and even less pleased with their sperm donor. “I’m not a bastard anymore!” Billy cheerfully announces.

Mom Zoey (Stephanie Mills) shows Harry pictures of Billy growing up. Mom Michelle (Amanda Brugel) doesn’t trust Harry and can tell he’s no Ivy League sperm source. Harry suggests they enroll Billy in the Boy Scouts if they want to add some Y chromosome to his upbringing. Zoey protests any “practically military” organizations just as Billy returns with pelts we can only assume he skinned himself. Harry breaks the news that their reunion is a one-shot deal. Billy yells that he now hates Harry. Zoey offers comfort: “It’s only nine years of hate.”

The hate accusation is still bugging Harry back at the bar, since he once said the same thing to his dad. Irene has no sympathy for him: “Your dad got your mom pregnant the old-fashioned way: drunk while yelling at the hockey game.” Harry agrees he’s not dad material. Right then, a lovely blond teenage girl (Abby Ross) in a school uniform enters the bar and asks for a beer. Harry thinks she looks just like his sister, who also snuck into bars back in the day. This is handy since Teenage Girl is pretty sure Harry is her father. “Mazel tov,” Irene deadpans.

anaUncomfortable in his daughter’s parents’ upper-middle-class living room, Harry listens to his daughter explain how she posted his donor number online and was contacted by Billy. Her mom, Janet (Laura de Carteret), calls her Anastasia, with all the pretension she can cram into five syllables. Janet is a child psychologist who believes she can manage her child as she would a client, while the not-threatened-at-all uptight dad, Jonathan (Matt Baram), is a successful lawyer. Anastasia rolls her eyes a lot in this scene. Anastasia plays new parent against existing ones in order to get permission to stay at her boyfriend’s house. Harry denies being her “family,” but admits he’d let her go if only because he knows a determined teenage girl will find a way.

Janet delivers a lecture about their “safe environment,” while Jonathan baldly denies Ana is planning on having sex, ever, which his daughter smugly discounts: “I’m gonna lose Brandon if I don’t put out.” Because we’ve time-traveled into a John Hughes movie, circa 1985? Her dad freaks: “We will have to move north, where the winters are longer and colder and Anastasia will have to wear many layers.” Snicker. Ana runs out. Harry opines that her parents should’ve expected this, what with giving her a stripper name. They tell Harry to never contact Ana again, and he’s only too happy to agree.

Rose debates the $3,500 price tag for artificial insemination and decides instead to contact Harry: “How about we meet for sex and then I’ll never see you again?” It has to be that night, since she’s ovulating. They arrange a hotel hookup. So that’s $200 for the hotel room, $100 for room service, and $150 easy for lingerie in exchange for Harry’s best 10 minutes. OK, let’s be realistic: best 5 minutes. Bargain-basement baby!

Zoey and Michelle arrive at The Pour House to tell Harry that Billy punched a girl: “I guess we should be glad our son’s a gender-neutral bully …” Billy is acting out, trying to do what he thinks Harry would want him to do, and now they want Harry to help Billy lose his newfound assertiveness. Harry agrees, but only after he’s hooked up with Rose. Anastasia calls him and, sure enough, she went to the party, which is, like, totally rad. Harry overhears Ana’s friend say it’s a lipstick party. He Googles it: “How do they get all that lipstick on a guy’s … Oh, dear Lord!” He asks Zoey and Michelle to take him to Janet and Jonathan’s house since he doesn’t own a car. “He’s our sperm,” Michelle moans to Zoey.

All five parents pile into Zoey and Michelle’s minivan with a trunk load of awkward! Zoey is ready to adopt the whole troupe. Jonathan and Janet are pissed that Ana reached out to Harry. He more than agrees. Zoey waxes on about the dancer named Anastasia with whom she went to college. “Ballet?” Jonathan asks anxiously. “No, the other kind.” Janet thinks they need to accept their daughter is becoming a sexual being. Harry explains what a lipstick party is, and they freak out. Jonathan: “We need to get her braces—the ones with the sharp, metal edges on them!” Snort. Harry wonders what kind of perv does this to a girl, then realizes he forgot his anonymous sex date.

Harry is elected to retrieve Ana despite everyone not loving the idea. Well, everyone but Zoey. He climbs over Jonathan in a great bit of physical comedy. Left behind, Michelle announces they’re all not family just because their kids are genetically related, and everyone agrees and objects to Harry’s intrusion in their lives. Well, everyone but Zoey.

Harry finds Ana alone in an upstairs bedroom. She’s grossed out by the idea of a lipstick party, but still unhappy since she caught Brandon kissing Robin Mathison: “Why does the world have to suck?” Question of the century, kiddo. Harry has no answers. “Best thing I’ve ever done involved five minutes into a Styrofoam cup in a sperm bank,” he says. Ana thinks that’s sweet. Downstairs, Harry comes to Ana’s defense against Brandon and calls what Brandon did with Robin disgusting and vile. When Brandon violently objects, Harry backhands him. Robin comes running in to comfort Brandon. Robin is a guy. “What is wrong with gender-specific names?!” Harry wails.

In the minivan, the parents are still trying to come to terms with what looks like Harry’s inevitable involvement in their children’s lives. “It takes a village!” Zoey chirps. “And every village needs an idiot,” Janet grouses.

Over at the hotel, Rose is leaving just as Harry arrives two hours late. He admits the kids are in his head, but that won’t keep him from hooking up with an emotionally needy woman like Rose, who asks, “Is this how they treat people in New Jersey?” OK, yeah, in all honesty, sometimes we do. You gotta roll with it.

harry and billy play video gamesJonathan and Janet commiserate over wine. She supposes they could’ve adopted, but Jonathan protests that then their child wouldn’t have Janet’s smile: “That smile has generations left in it.” Aw, that’s lovely. Harry and Billy play a video game at Billy’s house. Harry tells him not to punch anyone just to be safe. Zoey thinks he’s sweet; Michelle knows he’s an idiot. At the sperm bank, Rose lies back and takes it from the turkey baster, happy now that she can get her baby on layaway. It’s only after the procedure is over that she realizes she’s chosen donor XC3000.

That was fun! The script is sharp and swift, and the characters just slightly off-center enough to overcome their stereotypes. I laughed more than once, which is saying something these days when it comes to sitcoms.

Did Harry and his brood plant their seeds with you? Can it be fertilized for a whole season’s viewings? Will I run out of reproduction puns before we get through the next episode? Sound off in the comments!

Seed, rated TV-14, airs on Mondays at 9:30/8:30C on The CW.

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