“One Big Happy” recap (1.6): One Big Gay Wedding

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As of this writing, the future of One Big Happy is still uncertain. The show’s ratings took a precipitous drop this week, but it’s possible NBC will hang on, if only to avoid pissing off Queen Ellen. But whatever its future, it seems clear that the version of the show we’ve known up until now has to change or die. One Big Happy’s staunchest defenders have been fans of the sharper humor that peaked in episodes two and three, not the lazy, predictable writing that has dominated since then.

So, previously on OBH, Luke and Prudence discovered that their marriage was no more legal than say, if I were to marry my girlfriend here in Louisiana (counting on you to fix that, Supreme Court). The two of them had a week to tie the knot before Prudence was shipped back to Jolly Old England, never to return. Lizzy, however saw this as an opportunity to be the perfect best man, and in the course of her duties, invited Prudence’s father to come witness the nuptials. Except as it turned out, it wasn’t her father at all, but her ex-husband, who she married just to escape from her parents’ home. Luke was hurt that Prudence never told him about her first husband, and afraid Prudence only married him so she could stay in California and, presumably, die of thirst. So he ran off, leaving Lizzy and Prudence alone at last.

obh6.1WELL THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY.

Prudence is one of those girls who just can’t stand sleeping alone. I think we all knew a few of them in college. They’d show up at your bed in a wife beater and boxer shorts and ask if they could cuddle, and torture your poor, confused libido.

Prudence reveals that she has never slept alone in her life, which brings me to the first tip for the writers should the show get renewed. The jokes about Pru’s insane childhood are a lot funnier than the ones about her boobs. Kelly Brook’s breasts do not require constant commentary. They speak for themselves. But speaking of her boobs (again) from them she pulls out some of Luke’s erotic poetry, which reads “Hearts intertwined. Soft kisses move my junk.” There is just no comedy inherent in that poem, a fact that must have been apparent at the first table read. What a group of hungry, committed writers does in that moment is rework the joke until it works. A refusal to do that, when you’re writing for a show whose future is far from certain, is shamefully lazy. In the past couple weeks, OBH has sent its stars on a publicity campaign (“barrage” might be a more appropriate term, actually) to tout how progressive the show is. Which is all very well and good, but even a futuristic premise doesn’t mean shit if all your jokes sound like they were written in 1995.

Moving on. Lizzy asks Prudence why she didn’t just tell Luke the truth and they have the following exchange:

Prudence: Haven’t you ever had a secret, like summat you were ashamed of, that you didn’t need to keep a secret, but you did because you were afraid of what people might think?

Lizzy: That resonates with me, yes. I kept a pretty big secret for eighteen years. Well, fourteen. I didn’t really think about being gay before kindergarten. Oh wait. Jenny Murphy.

The Jenny Murphy thing is delightfully true to life, since gay people are always thinking they’ve found their root, and then digging deeper and discovering an even older, gayer root. Having found this unexpected common ground, Lizzy agrees to talk Luke back into Prudence’s arms (see, writers? She has other parts besides the boobs).

The next day, we visit Luke, who is camped out at Marcus’ house (I have had to look up that guy’s name for every single recap, which says a lot about how forgettable he is). They state their bro credentials for the audience (they’ve been hugging but promise to lie about it, Luke punched a wall, Marcus is REPAIRING A SKATEBOARD, FOR FUCK’S SAKE) and Marcus suggests that what Luke really needs is to distract himself by playing Marcus’ wingman that night. Marcus tricked a girl into believing he was a cop and needs Luke to help keep up the charade. Can we have a forever moratorium on this whole “guy tries to get girl by pretending to have a different job” thing?

  1. Do real life guys do that?
  2. Even if they do do it, it is a gross thing to do and they probably got the idea from TV.
  3. No sane woman is more likely to sleep with a man who pretends to be a cop. Do you people watch the fucking news?

 obh6.2WOMEN LOVE DANGEROUS MEN, AND WHO’S MORE DANGEROUS THAN A COP?

Anyway, Lizzy tries to get Luke to come home, but Luke says that Lizzy probably sabotaged their engagement on purpose and on some level knew that Martin was really Prudence’s ex. It all feels like a lot of time-filler. But the episode leans into it, by recounting the time when Kid Lizzy murdered her sister’s fish. Somehow, Lizzy takes this as incontrovertible evidence that on some level she knew that Martin was really Pru’s ex and not her father. So once again, she takes it upon herself to dredge the good ship Pruke from the depths, scour the barnacles from her deck, and make her float once more.

Her strategy is to trick Prudence and Luke into reuniting at the exact spot where they first fell in love, because springing surprises on them has worked so well up to this point.

Luke is already at the bar on his pretend-cop double-date with Marcus and two conversationally-disabled women. And sad to say, Luke’s half of the winsome twinsome is the funniest part of this episode. She is entirely credulous when Luke tells her how he single-handedly brought down Hannibal Lecter, and then she proceeds to embark on an enthusiastic recitation of the entire inventory of a little store called Target. If the show does continue, I hope she stays as their Karen.

Luke and Prudence manage to come together with only an hour to spare until Prudence gets deported (Obama is apparently really strict when it comes to melon-smugglers). Luke runs back to Marcus’ to get his suit (why he would have brought it in the first place is nearly as good a question as why Immigration is treating Prudence like she’s an ISIL recruiter, but we don’t have time to cover every ridiculous thing).  When he arrives at Marcus’, who should be waiting on him but Jackie, who handcuffs them together and then passes out. (The handcuff key is hidden in a place that is not for an engaged man to visit.)

obh6.3 PLEASE, TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR BOWLING ALLEY.

Back at the house paid for by Lizzy’s spying? Drug dealing? Otter wrangling? I guess we’ll never know; the best man has decorated like only a lesbian sublimating all her sexual impulses into event planning can.

Unfortunately, they’re still short a groom and the clock is ticking down. So Lizzy does what no one would do  anyone would do, and marries Prudence herself.

obh6.4 I’M NOT PRETENDING ANYMORE.

We learn during the vows that Lizzy’s full name is Lizzy Fisher, which: note the initials. Forgive me, but I can’t help but feel that if Liz Feldman had treated this less like an autobiographical vanity project and more like a career priority, we wouldn’t be saying goodbye.

Anyway, Lizzy skips out of kissing the bride, even though Prudence clearly wants to go for it. What does happen is a reversal of that scene in the first episode: Prudence says “I love you” and Lizzy and Luke both reply “I love you too.” Now, I know Lizzy’s declaration is supposed to be platonic, but if the show gets the retooling it so desperately needs, they should lean into this romantic entanglement. Love triangles are TV’s bread and butter, and this one would give One Big Happy’s audience a reason to invest in this story (it only so they could form furious shipping armies and do battle in the comment sections of recaps).

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 4.00.07 PM

NOW WHO’S STANDING IN THE MIDDLE? EQUALITY 2015, Y’ALL.

 All in all, OBH has veered from being amusing to disappointing, mostly through attempting a comedy so broad it appeals to everyone and no one.  But if they can focus on their actors’ strong suits, and continue to employ only those writers who earn their paychecks, then I’d be happy to see it back. Otherwise, it’s been a thin slice of heaven, folks.

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