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Bored to Death Recap: Another Degree of Kevin Bacon

Bored to Death’s defining asset is its simplicity — even its oversimplicity. So it can’t be too surprising that there’s the occasional episode that floats by and just sort of ends before ever really making its presence known. After the relatively action-packed plots of the past few weeks, who wouldn’t need a catnap?

Emboldened by his recent cases — being held for ransom and rescuing Louis Green from the heroin dealers — Jonathan decides his path to career resuscitation: Take F. Murray Abraham’s advice and turn his cases into short stories, then enter those into The New Yorker’s fiction contest for writers under 35. (Perhaps Schwartzman’s recent ad for the magazine’s new iPad app was a lit-geek, low-budget means of securing brand licensing?) Most important, he’s excited about being a writer for the first time since his second novel was deemed unpublishable.

His case this week couldn’t be less harrowing than his last few: He’s hired by an Indian woman, in a garish tourist-trap East Village Indian restaurant for good measure, to tail her limo-driver/aspiring-poet husband, whose long hours and bacon scent lead her to suspect he’s having an affair. But soon — and simply — enough, Jonathan finds the driver, Vikram (what’s up, Samir from Office Space!) hunkered down in a diner doing a crossword puzzle. Jonathan approaches Vikram, who is conveniently eager to blurt out that he’s been fired from his driving job and hides in the diner, feet away from splattering bacon, out of shame and fear of telling his wife. Jonathan insists that honesty is the best policy and that Vikram should just tell her the truth about his job, and that she’ll understand. Well, she doesn’t, of course, because she’s an awful shrew of a human being, and Jonathan sees that his helpful meddling isn’t always particularly helpful at all.

Ray is still on the upswing — he’s got a meeting with Kevin Bacon to discuss optioning SuperRay into a movie franchise (“He’s like a drunken Batman with a big cock”), and he’s now confident enough in himself to dump the alcoholic, possibly insane Carol. The latter doesn’t go so well: After he tells her it’s not him, it’s her, and that he thinks she drinks too much, she dumps a beer in his lap and storms out of the Brooklyn Inn. But she returns to the bar later, just when Ray is talking to Kevin Bacon, to announce that Ray has given her “oral chlamydia of the mouth,” then accuses him of assault. Before he’s escorted out of the bar, Ray accidentally punches Kevin Bacon in the nose, and, yeah, that deal isn’t happening.

A gold star to whichever commenter recently remarked that Bored to Death was becoming Entourage for East Coast aesthetes, or Entourage for people who hate Entourage, or somesuch. (I am paraphrasing.) Kevin Bacon’s deadpan narcissistic cartoon version of himself is right out of that show’s playbook, the intense Method actor oblivious to anything or anyone else. It’s definitely a fun scene, and the fact that the collaboration seems doomed before it starts means we won’t get to see Bacon don the superhero’s portly or stocky suit. But if there turned out to be a Kevin Bacon–Kristen Wiig spinoff, well, we’d watch that.

Though George caught a break last week, using medicinal marijuana for his cancer as an excuse to get out of rehab, this week he’s delivered an even more crushing blow: The magazine’s new board in Dallas has deemed that, in this age of dwindling ad revenue and available editorial pages, his column is surplus to requirements. This page is how he has defined himself for twenty years; without it, he’s just a nice three-piece suit to trot out at cocktail parties. It’s probably not a great day for him to be guest-speaking at Jonathan’s writing class, where he delivers a grim print-is-dead screed. (Also: Jonathan making out with his student, Nina. Funny idea? Too easy? Discuss.)

God bless (the real) Jonathan Ames for his premillennial romantic notions of the New York media world. Perhaps you were one of the viewers watching last night waiting for the moment when someone suggested that George’s soul-baring self-expression might have a chance of existing somewhere, you know, on the Internet, but that moment never came. Jonathan talks George into hiring Vikram as his personal driver, since the increased weed usage has made driving too much of an adventure, but when they get to the diner to break the good news, Vikram is waving a gun around and holding the place up, Pulp Fiction–style. George and Jonathan appeal to Vikram’s poet side and eventually talk him down before he actually takes any money. In sum: George is a magazine editor-in-chief with a gaudy, art-filled corner office and no real editorial responsibilities or knowledge of computers who still has a line item for a personal driver. I love New York, but I really love this New York.

Photo: Barry Wetcher