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'Mulaney' recap: Boys and girls

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “Sweet Jane” | Aired Nov 2, 2014

“Girls and boys are so different! Isn’t that funny?!” It’s the subtext of this episode of Mulaney and it’s the tired comedic premise behind countless bits from hundreds of standup comedians. John Mulaney has a semi-famous girls vs. boys bit on his special, New in Town:

“I think that women can be friends with each other, but I think it can be tricky sometimes when you try and force women to hang out with each other. You could never put together a heist of women. Like ‘Ocean’s 11′ with women wouldn’t work ’cause two would keep breaking off to talk sh*t about the other nine.”

He uses this same exact joke to anchor the fourth episode of his show Mulaney, titled “Sweet Jane.” But without the bookends New in Town provides—rumination on his relationship with his girlfriend and growing up being mistaken for a girl—it feels more offensive and overplayed than funny or original. The episode’s entire premise depends on this conceit that it’s just so hard for women to be friends with each other. Instead of twisting that idea in a unique way or giving Nasim Pedrad some interesting material to run with, Mulaney perpetuates dumb stereotypes about women. (Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly obvious that Pedrad is seriously outnumbered by the dudes in this cast?)

When John starts dating Kristen, a standup comedy fan, Jane is immediately against it. She thinks that Kristen is shallow, and only interested in John because of his job, so she makes it a point of antagonizing Kristen. Between passive aggressive “sweeties” and judgmental looks, Kristen and Jane definitely don’t hit it off, and John and Motif notice. Motif even goes so far to guess that Jane is jealous of Kristen.


John visits Oscar to get some advice about how to deal with Jane and Kristen. Oscar is preparing to attend a Steely Dan concert with his two female friends, Tootie and Vaughan, and John takes an interest in their relationship. Tootie and Vaughan reveal that they also used to hate each other, but bonded over a mutual hatred for something (NASA’s space program).

Using this friendship trajectory as a launchpad, John invites both Jane and Kristen to Andre’s blues band performance. But instead of commiserating with Kristen, Jane defends Andre. She’d rather be fake enthusiastic about terrible music played by a guy she despises than relate to Kristen on any level. That’s some serious girl-on-girl hate.

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Even worse is that, in the end, after John realizes that Kristen is just into him for his comedy and breaks up with her, Jane admits that she was jealous. Not because she is interested in dating Mulaney, but because she thinks of him as her back-up plan—her safety school.

Kristen is not supposed to be a good person, and neither is Jane. Jane is brash and short-tempered and self-centered, and that’s great. Flawed female characters are intriguing and, when well-acted, layered. But when the only female relationship on the show is a mutual hatred caused, essentially, by a dude, there’s a problem. It’s an especially big problem when the end result isn’t even funny.

This episode also featured a bunch of references to Friends and Seinfeld, both shows that Mulaney has been accused of ripping off (but not really succeeding at it). Unfortunately for Mulaney, no amount of meta nudges and acknowledgement of the comparison will change the fact that, as of now, it can’t hold a candle to either of those classic sitcoms. And with its recent cut from a 16-episode order to 13, Fox doesn’t seem to be too optimistic about a turnaround.

Mulaney isn’t a strong enough show to get away with shooting itself in the foot this early in the game. Two-dimensional characters and lame material for one of its biggest assets (Nasim Pedrad continues to be the only thing keeping me coming back each week) will kill it. This week, it’s only getting closer to tumbling off the edge.

Winning one-liners:

  • “How come when you talk to a girl, you sound like you’re asking your mom to pick you up from a playdate?” —Motif

  • “You’re right, John, I’m jealous. Sometimes I crave your body so much, I kiss a cold piece of raw chicken.” —Jane

  • “Get me some more diet chocolate pudding, I’m such a chubby little baby.” —Lou

Mulaney airs Sundays at 9:30/8:30 central on FOX.

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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