Saturday, December 21, 2013

Recap Vomit: Trophy Wife ('Twas The Night Before Christmas...Or 'Twas It?)

Christmas is a time for the familiar (songs, decorations and asking for DVDs as presents) and in that spirit, “Trophy Wife’s” requisite holiday episode, “’Twas The Night Before Christmas…..Or ‘Twas It?”, borrows a familiar refrain. It shows us the (metaphorically) bloody aftermath and then has the characters re-trace their steps to determine precisely what happened. It opens with a vintage seasonal tune contrasted against Pete and His Three Wives spread throughout the house, passed out in varying places of ludicrousness. Pete is wearing a Santa suit (how did he get into it?) and Jackie’s eyebrows are nearly shaved down to nothing (who did it?) and the Christmas tree is 1.) In the pool and 2.) On fire and all the presents have vanished and, of course, a dog. A random dog is in the house. Unless it’s a coyote. Or possibly a wolf. (“It’s a wolf.”)

Malin Akerman's Pants. Dear God, Malin Akerman's Pants!
So the confused quartet wakes, gathers ‘round the coffeemaker and attempts to determine and/or assign blame to the person responsible for this overall mishap. The blame, as is often the case, is aimed square at Kate. (Reader’s Note: Malin Akerman impossibly ups her pants from last week with a pair of searing red leather pants this week that are burned into my retinas. I mean, Malin Akerman in those pants halts any talk of potentially switching the Official Cinematic Crush back to Sienna Miller, as was Cinema Romantico scuttlebutt earlier in the year. I mean we’re nearing the point of All Malin Akerman Pants Recaps. I mean, Malin Akerman wears those effing pants.) To instill her own family traditions, she has crafted a batch of Glögg (“Glurg?” – “Glögg.”), a sort of Swedish mulled wine, and invited Jackie and Dr. Diane Buckley over for Christmas Eve despite Pete’s protests because, after all, it’s Christmas. And that’s what you do at Christmas……you do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do (shouldn’t under any circumstances do) and then dismiss their inherent bad-ideaness with a proferring of “It’s Christmas.” Kate, they assume, must have spiked the Glögg (“Glurg?” – “Glögg”), or made it too strong, and caused a wide-reaching blackout. This is both very near and very far from the actual truth.

Lindsey Shockley’s script is a breakfast buffet of setups and the payoffs that are unpacked lickety-split and with escalating humor. Clearly its roots are in “The Hangover” but whereas that film was strictly Hollywood, a big budget allowing for multiple locales and grand-scale absurdity, “Trophy Wife” is gratefully restricted to the confines of the Harrison house (and the next-door front yard, allowing for a solo Jackie Nativity caper). It is not simply the smaller scale that strengthens it, but the fact that Pete and His Three Wives descent into Christmas Eve madness is both revealing – Pete really hates his job – and a glorious way of bringing them all together. They are sort of like the Coca-Cola (™) Polar Bears (“Give. Find. Love.” [™]) if the Coca-Cola (™) Polar Bears had been shot with a tranquilizer dart a la Frank The Tank in “Old School.”

That the kids are made to see their parental figures in such a state of distress on the most whimsical of days is no doubt disconcerting, yet there is something whimsical in the way we are made to eventually see that Pete’s Glögg (“Glurg?” – “Glögg.”) stained reasoning for climbing into the Santa suit is to somehow keep the spirit of Santa alive for precocious Bert. And, of course, the ultimate reveal is that it was precocious Bert, only trying to help, who emptied an entire bottle of Absinthe into the Glögg (“Glurg?” – “Glögg.") who brought about this whole debacle.

I was reminded of the bartendress with the fetching neck tattoo who served me brunch one Saturday morning this past summer and recounted the time in New Orleans she met a vampire while drinking Absinthe. (No, seriously. That’s what she told me. I loved her. I wish she’d been wearing Malin Akerman’s pants.) Oh, you can chuckle and shake your head at such a statement, but it made me think of how every once in a while life can seem so magical, and we are willing to let ourselves believe a man in a red suit climbs down our chimney or that we are talking to a friggin’ vampire. Stress and menial tasks and day jobs take so much out of us as we get older that it becomes difficult to re-discover a true sense of joy even at Christmas, and that’s just not right.

And you become so desperate to re-capture that joy that you get drunk and sing Ace of Base together, and it is in that moment, the Ace of Base sing along that tags the episode over the closing credits, that Pete and His Three Wives set aside their differences and look within their hearts and find what Christmas means to each of them even if that meaning will come back up the following morning in Absinthe-scented porcelain spew and be forgotten forever.

1 comment:

Andrew K. said...

And coming off of last week's episode (last week as in December 7 but whatever) this was such a nice comeback especially because it was ace for the wives but also incorporated Pete excellently!

And, what can I say, seeing adult cast-members of shows join together to sing ace of bank is comedic gold.