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Kart Life, JP Southern

'Kart Life' fan recap: 'Children are like racehorses; they want to win'

Season 1 | Episode 5 | “Southern Discomfort” | Aired Feb 25, 2015

Phil Tavella is in a pickle when Kart Life opens in New Castle, Indiana. His tuner didn’t show up, so he’ll have to tune son Dylan’s kart himself, noting, “That ain’t good for us.” We see just how screwed Phil and Dylan are when Phil improperly holds a wrench, jabs the kart with it, then throws up his hands in defeat. Dylan astutely surmises: “I need a new tuner or a new dad.”

Phil’s plight is hilarious to frenemy John “All About That Boss, No Treble” Bromante. His son Gio “needs to do good so Daddy got two tuners. Phil’s got none. This is going to be a good weekend,” Daddy Bromante brays into the camera.

In the Tavela tent, Phil claims to have tuned a perfect kart. Dylan highly doubts this. “Are you serious right now?” Phil asks as Dylan starts his inspection. Dylan’s skepticism is well founded. Phil has put the tires on backward. Phil remedies this, then immediately spills gasoline all over the engine and floor. “Dad, you’re terrible,” Dylan says, head in his hands.

Before a race, Greg Welage warns son Jason about “JP playing head games.” Wait, who’s JP? That would be 12-year-old John Paul Southern Jr. We meet the Southerns in a karate class in their hometown of Westlake, Ohio. Dad, JP Sr., chops through three (!) wooden boards, telling us racing is about winning “and nothing else. These schools, they teach you it’s okay to fail. They’ll give you a participation trophy,” he sneers. “The real world is like a race. You don’t win, you’re done.” JP Sr. has the feel of a military man who washed out for being unhinged and now watches Full Metal Jacket on repeat.

The Southerns are universally disliked, per the rest of the Kart Life cast, and it’s easy to see why. Before a race, the parents whisper pep talks and adulations to their kids. JP Sr. gives his child advice best suited for a cage fighter: “You want to demoralize them. You want to break their spirit.”

Jason and JP Jr. are running a dead heat into the final turn. Jason picks a wide line and JP Jr. has a better corner exit and slips into first, while JP Sr. screams “FINISH HIM!” like this is Mortal Kombat. JP Jr. wins and, devoid of wood boards, JP Sr. karate chops the air excitedly. Greg Welage thinks JP Jr. bumped Jason during the pass to slow Jason’s momentum. Jason’s upset, crying inside his helmet, causing mom Meghan to cry and announce, “God, I f—ing hate this stupid sport.”

The JPs dispute the bumping. “These little punks,” JP Sr. says, “you don’t show them nothing. You grind their heads into the ground. You don’t need nobody on your side.” JP Sr. should be writing Steven Seagal movies. The Welages can’t let it go. “He’s an asshole,” Meghan exclaims, swilling a beer. “The kid’s an asshole, the dad’s an asshole, they’re assholes.” She stops her profane rant after noticing a small child listening. Cut to JP Sr. telling us he’s sick of other parents whining.

Speaking of petulance, John Bromante and Phil Tavella have dinner to settle beefs from prior episodes. John doesn’t like “hearing your wife calling my son a dirty driver.” TruTV gives us a replay to reveal Shirley Tavella actually said, “You drive clean, that’s all you need,” to her own son. Swing and a miss, Johnny-boy. John thinks “you don’t say something like that in front of a child.” Don’t let your kids near Meghan Welage.

“Your kid caused a crash,” Phil spits. John fires back, “They’re 10-year-old kids making split-second decisions.” This is the smartest thing John Bromante has said all season. Phil thinks Gio was taught wrong, and John concedes that point before moving on to Wampum, PA, where Phil ratted the Bromantes out for a violation and Gio was disqualified. “Why would you take that away from my son?” John asks. Phil decides “to man up to it. I’m sorry I stooped that low.” John also apologizes and they bro-hug it out.

The cadets race again and JP Jr. wins—then rams the second-place finisher off the track after the checkered flag, which everyone calls dirty and unsportsmanlike. Except for JP Sr., who is proud. The officials give Jr. a warning. One more incident and they’ll be disqualified from the weekend.

In the Tavella tent, Phil’s managed to put Dylan’s kart together. “It’s going to fall apart,” sighs Dylan. It holds and Dylan wins a race. Irked by Dylan’s lack of respect, Phil asks for a hug and when Dylan begrudgingly trudges over, Phil calls his son a “dick” four times in a row.

Dylan’s win means that JP Jr. lost and this is incomprehensible to the Southerns. JP Sr. makes a sound like his brain is imploding, and chops at the air. Jr. tells us “second angers me because I’m the first loser.” Then Jr. cries in his trailer before JP Sr. explains to us that “children are like racehorses. They want to win.” (This claim has yet to be verified by pediatricians and/or veterinarians.)

Given that Gio hasn’t finished better than sixth all weekend, one of Gio’s two tuners suggests “changing things and going 180 degrees from what we’re doing now. Just to try.” Sounds like John chose his tuners poorly. Maybe he should hire Phil Tavella. The kids race again and Jason Welage wins. Now the Southerns are irate. “I’m letting JP do whatever he wants in the final,” says Sr. “If these whiny parents don’t like it, they can come deal with me. He needs to take Welage down and win.”

During the championship race, it’s Jason and JP Jr. battling for first. Suddenly, an officially tells the parents they’ve found an airbox in one of the corners. This is a huge issue because when the airbox comes off, the kart goes faster, and it’s an automatic DQ. Since the kids are in a blind spot, no one knows whose kart will be DQ’d. As the kids crest the corner, the episode ends. If it ends up being Jason Welage’s airbox, officials should check it for karate-chop marks.

Kart Life airs Wednesdays at 10/9C on TruTV.

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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