Welcome to the weekly excuse for me to drink at home to dull the pain: Setup Squad, a workplace docu-drama — mostly “drama” — that makes me never want to work for a small company ever again. The group of dating coaches ostensibly help hapless singles become better daters, but mostly they reenact a real life version of Fight Club. Now, I know the first rule of Fight Club is, “You do not talk about Fight Club.” And the second rule of Fight Club is, “You do not talk about Fight Club.” But I’m paid to do this and we are still in a recession, so take a shot with me and let’s power through this!
The first red herring to distract viewers from the inconvenient truth that this show is basically a group sparring match with blown out hair and high heels is Teresa. Speaking of sparring, she is a workaholic with a day job in a publishing house and a night job teaching boxing lessons. Because of her difficult schedule and her shyness around women outside of the ring, she has not gone on a date in six years. She reminds Lauretta of her sister, so Renee assigns Teresa to Lauretta.
The next filler to make this show an hour long is Thomas, a gay party boy who claims that he wants to meet the right guy, but really, he just sounds like a confused mess. Helen is assigned to Thomas, and Renee admits she is watching her like a hawk. Let’s just call Helen Tyler Durden, because Fight Club didn’t exist until Helen joined the team.
And OMG Lover Randi is coming to town from Los Angeles, so I guess we don’t be seeing Meredith much this episode, because this is not The Real L Word and cameras will not be following them into the bedroom for inexplicable porn shoots that have nothing to do with the narrative. Thank you, Logo.
Helen takes Thomas to a gay bar in the West Village. “This is my Korean grandmother’s favorite bar,” Helen deadpans. Helen notes that a go go bar is probably not a place to find a boyfriend. A go go bar? The camera pans around the room to reveal one dancer gyrating unenthusiastically on the bar. If this is considered to be a “go go bar” acceptable enough to be broadcasted on cable then I’m embarrassed for New York City and the entire go go dancing profession.
Thomas chats up two guys, who reveal that they used to date. Helen pulls him aside and says that one of the guys who Thomas is sweating is probably not relationship material. “Because he’s with his ex-boyfriend with a stripper gyrating his penis right over his head,” notes Thomas. Hmm, sounds like any given lesbian nightlife event in New York City, except replace “ex-boyfriend” with “ex-girlfriend” and “penis” with “vag.” I guess gays and lesbians are more similar than we thought. Hooray!
Meredith and Lauretta sit down for coffee and have a chat about Meredith’s issues with her long distance relationship. Meredith admits that she is concerned that Lover Randi might find her own Dawn Denbo in the city of Devils, shack up in West Hollywood, and never be seen again. Lauretta says that jealousy is a “relationship killer” and perhaps Meredith should have a processing session with Randi. Meredith agrees. Lesbians processing? And to think I was worried that a one hour episode could not be filled with material.
Hypothetical Lesbian Relationship-Defining Talk
“So where is this going?”
[Three hours later]
“Oh my god. My brain hurts. And I have paper cuts from looking things up. Let’s talk about something else.”
And 500 mutual friends immediately vomit all over their laptops.
Lauretta goes to Teresa’s comfort zone, the gym, where Teresa seems in control and comfortable. Lauretta suggests that she should meet women at the gym, and Teresa basically says that she doesn’t sh-t where she eats. This is a good call, because if things don’t work out, she will literally be in a boxing ring with her ex. Not a good scene.
Lauretta takes Teresa to Cubbyhole, where Teresa looks like a deer in headlights. “I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with lesbians,” Teresa admits. Just a little? Honey, we all feel like walking into a lesbian bar is like walking into the cafeteria scene in Mean Girls. It’s normal.
Helen takes Thomas out to figure out what he wants, to be a wifey or to be affixed to the crotch of all the go go dancers in the city. Thomas doesn’t give a coherent answer except to say that he is “a mess.”
Oh and it’s dyke-a-likes Meredith and Lover Randi. After the least heated couples bickering match I’ve witnessed but not heard &mdsah; because I plugged my ears and sang “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” as watching lesbians have relationship talks triggers my PTSD — Randi finally asks Meredith, “When are you moving to LA?” Dramatic music.
The talk spurs Meredith to suggest opening a branch of Wings, Inc. in Los Angeles to Renee, who rejects the idea, because among other things, “New York exists.” The last time I checked Los Angeles was still around too. Not sure if that is a good thing.
Lauretta goes to Teresa’s house to dig deeper into Teresa’s psyche. Teresa reveals that she used to be overweight and that boxing saved her life. Teresa explains that when she is in the ring, she pretends the other person isn’t another person and that she is sparring herself. Lauretta becomes emotional and says, voice cracking, “If you can’t be defeated in the ring, you cannot be defeated your dating life!” By this point, Lauretta is pointing every which direction and working herself into a tizzy, like a deranged subway preacher, and Teresa starts to convert to the cult of Reverend Lauretta. Amen!
Helen takes Thomas to a gay bar without vacant-looking go go dancers, where Thomas chats up a couple of dudes. One with glasses says he’s looking for love. Thomas looks like he just saw Medusa out of the corner of his eye and yelps, “Don’t look at me!” Helen goes, “What did you just say?” Thomas then proceeds to blow off glasses for a guy who wants to be “chi chi” and free. Helen pulls Thomas away, who admits he doesn’t know what he wants and changes his mind from minute to minute. This is called “being flaky,” which describes 99% of the people in New York City, and is why this city should be the one that doesn‘t exist, not Los Angeles. Wait. I heard the people in Los Angeles are flaky too. Perhaps the Death Star should simply destroy both cities, and Meredith and Randi can compromise, move to Chicago, wear matching Cubs hats and decorate their Andersonville apartment with nauseatingly impeccable furniture. Wait, not Andersonville – more like Lincoln Park.
Lauretta takes Teresa to a rock climbing class, where Teresa flirts effortlessly with the instructor but dismisses her as being “too tall.” I don’t know why this segment was included, but we get to see Teresa suspended thirty feet in the air.
Helen asks the rest of the team to help her figure out how to proceed with Thomas. She doesn’t go to Renee directly, because she doesn’t want to raise any red flags, as she is well aware that her head is on the chopping block. Helen complains that Meredith never answered her text. “She can’t talk, her mouth is very busy,” quips Jonathan. Hopefully busy doing something other than negotiating the terms and conditions of moving to Los Angeles.
Eventually Helen goes to Renee, who tells Helen that Wings, Inc. is not in the business of setting up booty calls, and if Thomas does not want to commit to finding someone to date, he should probably be axed as a client.
Lauretta comes up with an idea that is simultaneously clever, ridiculous, and painful to watch. She asks Teresa to pretend a punching bag is a woman and to flirt with it. Lauretta stands behind the bag and flirts back in a falsetto voice. This exercise was inspired by Teresa’s earlier comment that sparring is a mental game for her in which she pretends she is sparring with herself. Teresa thinks Lauretta must be intoxicated, but plays along anyway.
Helen takes Thomas out one last time, and he finally admits that he is not ready to look for something serious.
Lauretta takes Teresa to Cubbyhole. Teresa pretends that the women there are punching bags. “I see heavy bags,” she says. Hopefully this does not mean she will dropkick any of them. Pretending that she is talking to athletic equipment seems to work, and Lauretta goes home with yet another victory.
Finally, yet another team meeting! Helen turns to Meredith and looks at her like she is about to blow her head up with laser beam eyes. It’s pretty intense. She attempts to nudge Meredith to move to Los Angeles, which is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to save her job. If Meredith leaves, the company will be short-staffed, and Helen’s position will be more secure. Meredith becomes uncomfortable, and she looks tired, probably because she spent the last few days doing cardio with workout partner Lover Randi in her bedroom. Lauretta, who sees through the ruse, comes in and attempts to dispel the tension, but the only thing at this point that can drive away tension from the Wings, Inc. team is if a giant sinkhole were to open up underneath the building and suck the entire building into the bowels of the earth.
Only one more episode left. Will this season end with someone pushing another cast mate into a pool leading to an unsolved murder mystery? This is probably the only show in recent memory where the above scenario can actually happen. Tune in next week to find out!
[I have assessed that this recap seems especially snarky this week. Please attribute it to misdirected aggression resulting from Pride-related stress. I will (most likely) be nicer next week. xoxo, Grace]