It’s a Christmas episode! From my TV watching experience, these kinds of things can go one of two ways: Awesome with a theme bigger than the day itself that you want to watch for years on end (Roseanne, The O.C.) or unimaginative with a lot of hopeful holiday imagery and feeling that just falls flat. Unfortunately, Super Fun Night leans toward the latter.
Kimmie, Helen-Alice and Marika are trying to have a Super Fun Christmas. Kimmie is the most excited about the prospect because her Christmases have always been terrible, ever since her dad stopped playing Santa, and stopped playing Dad. This year, she wants to go to Santa’s Tree Wonderland and eat some cookies and pet a reindeer, all on Christmas Eve. It’s two hours outside of New York City, but she beat Richard in a hot dog eating contest so now he has to drive her wherever she wants, even if it means missing dinner with Kendall’s parents.
Mo Gaffney is Kendall’s mean-spirited and critical mother while Alan Ruck is her well-meaning dad. At dinner, Kendall is anxiously waiting for Richard to finish chauffeuring Kimmie, and she ends up getting insulted a lot in the meantime. (“Look at you bravely wearing that dress!”)
Unfortunately, Kendall ends up waiting a long time and has to order a bottle of vodka because Tree Wonderland is a disaster. The trees are sadder than Charlie Brown’s choices and a dancing elf comes out of a brokedown trailer to try and sell them a $300 Doug Fir. There aren’t even any cookies. To make matters worse, the car breaks down on the way home in the woods, and Marika’s gotten them lost with her mental GPS. She tells her friends they can eat her first if they are close to freezing to death, and Kimmie and Helen-Alice admit they’d already planned to anyway. “Kimmie, we’ve only been out here for 45 minutes!” Richard whines. He’s the least psyched about the situation, unknowing his night is actually way better than Kendall’s. Her mom keep getting drunker and meaner, which is obviously where she gets it from when the writers decide to keep up with continuity.
“Trust me this is not the worst Christmas,” Kimmie says, still thinking positive. “The worst was when my Mom was dancing the Nutcracker naked and crying!” This might have made for a better episode.
Helen-Alice spots a cabin in the distance, so of course they break in and find a huge dinner spread on the table. Kimmie wants to dig right in, but clearly someone made this feast for, you know, themselves and loved ones. In he comes: A Santa-alike! He’s jolly with a beard, I mean, but says he is not, in fact, Santa. Damn. He does have an ax, though, and wants to know who the hell these strangers are threatening to eat his turkey leg. (He calls Kimmie “Goldielocks,” much to her liking.)
He’s just a sad, lonely old man, a time-old holiday movie/show trope. And he invites these weirdos to eat with him because his children have moved away and his wife passed away.
“I still come up every year,” he says. “I guess that’s a way of me celebrating Christmas the way I always remembered it. Except now all the gays are getting married and the President is black.”
Kimmie and Helen-Alice look horrified, but Marika shrugs. “Guess that’s true.”
Richard calls Kendall and asks her to come bail them out, and she’s more than happy to pretend he’s calling to say he’s coming by helicopter to whisk her away on a last-minute trip to Aruba. She apparently drives very quickly under the influence to find the cabin and announces that there is a truck stop a half mile away. Oops!
“Merry Christmas old dude!” Marika says as they prepare to leave. But sad old Santa man is sad, so they decide to stay and celebrate with him some more. Kendall keeps drinking while Richard and Kimmie share a moment by the fire place. He does a Mick Jagger impression, they hug. It’s magical. Marika is outside chopping wood and singing about it, natch. She really is the best part of this episode.
By the end, everyone’s singing Christmas carols and Kimmie calls her dad to wish him a Merry Christmas. Wrapped up nicely with a bow! But the best holiday episodes also propel the story forward, and there wasn’t much of that this episode, sadly. I need more from you, Super Fun Night!