Showtime’s hilarious original series Episodes has never been a ratings juggernaut but they keep renewing it. (Thank you, powers that be!) Now, in Season 4, a new story development just might force you to give the show a chance.
Here’s the set-up: A British husband and wife writing team, Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Tamsin Greigas and Stephen Mangan) move to Los Angeles when they sell their hit BBC show, Lyman’s Boys to a pushy American network president, Merc Lapidus (John Pankow). Sean and Beverly realize they’ve sold their souls when the network insists their charming comedy about an erudite headmaster at a private boarding school would be better if the show was called, Pucks! and starred Matt LeBlanc as a hockey coach.
Optimistic Sean thinks they can write Pucks! and still hold onto their dignity, while Beverly hates everything about Hollywood, except free swag, and her one friend, Carol Rance (the perfect Kathleen Rose Perkins), a smart but neurotic programming executive with a penchant for sleeping with her bosses. Like most Hollywood friendships, theirs revolves around hiking and smoking weed.
At the beginning of this season, the network is looking for a new president. (Merc has been fired and his replacement was literally insane.) Carol is clearly the best choice, but she’s passed over—once again—when they bring in Helen Basch (Andrea Savage), a respected TV executive. See those blazers? That’s called foreshadowing.
Carol is sure she’s going to be fired because when she was younger, she slept with her boss, Helen’s then-husband. Turns out, Helen didn’t know about the affair until Carol outs herself in a nervous confession. Oops.
To Carol’s relief, Helen doesn’t care about the affair at all, and Carol soon realizes that she and Helen share the same programming sensibilities. At the end of a rare good day, Helen and Carol unwind by sparking up a joint in Helen’s office, and getting to know each other a little better.
Helen knows that Carol has slept with her ex-husband, Merc, and Merc’s psychopath replacement.
Helen: What is it with you and bosses? Have a type, do ya?
Carol: I think I’m attracted to power. Also, I may have some father issues.
Helen: Self-aware, and fucked up.
Carol: Pleased to meet you.
Carol asks Helen if she’s seeing anyone. Helen casually reveals that she just broke up with a female news anchor. She tells Carol her type is “beautiful, smart, slightly damaged. Know anyone like that?”
OK, maybe not just father issues, Carol.
Come for the Carol-Helen storyline, stay for everyone else. LeBlanc won a Golden Globe for playing a selfish, shallow version of himself: After losing half his Friends money to his crooked money manager, he refuses to sell his plane, but is happy to fire the Mexican who rakes his beach.
The rest of the characters are delicious indictments of the entertainment industry: disgraced, double-talking Merc; a mid-level, gay sycophant perfectly named Andy Button; and Myra, the humorless, dim-witted head of comedy who loves the script she’s just read, not realizing it’s about puppets. You have to watch this show.
Episodes airs on Showtime, Sundays, 10:30PM, ET/PT.