One of the benefits of Up All Night’s cast and crew being full of TV veterans is that they can call on their friends and colleagues to drop by every now and then to spice things up. Last night’s episode featured appearances by Will Forte and The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, both of whom worked on SNL with Up All Night producer Lorne Michaels, creator Emily Spivey, and star Maya Rudolph. (Forte also co-starred with Will Arnett in The Brothers Solomon.) Up All Night’s three-person cast is extremely tiny — smaller than any network sitcom in recent memory*, and because of this, guest turns by comedy stars like Forte and Taccone are essential to fleshing out the show’s universe. Up All Night’s creative team put Forte and Taccone to great use last night, casting them in roles that gave them plenty to work with.
*I said network sitcom. Bored to Death and Curb don’t count, commenters.
“Working Late” opens with Reagan (Christina Applegate) coming home from a long day at the office to find Chris (Will Arnett) serving up a homemade gnocchi dish for the two of them, accompanied by some mood-setting Cuban music. Some of my favorite moments in the episode occur in this brief cold open when Chris references how much of his time as a stay-at-home dad he’s been spending on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website and Twitter feed. Despite Chris’s efforts to keep the passion in their relationship alive, Reagan ruins the romantic atmosphere he’s put so much effort into creating by changing into her baby food-stained maternity clothes and messily eating the carefully-prepared meal.
Reagan suddenly has bigger worries on her mind than keeping Chris sexually attracted to her when she learns that Ava’s ex-fiancée, pop star Benjamin “B-Ro” Roth, is engaged. When Ava hears the big news, she has a meltdown befitting a talk show star of her stature and retreats to her office to repeatedly watch the music video she and B-Ro made together in the early 90’s. Jorma Taccone, who plays B-Ro, is used in a familiar capacity here, with the music video and a YouTube clip of an altercation between B-Ro and Ava playing to the strengths he’s honed in his years of Digital Shorts experience.
Still seeking a way to keep his marriage strong, Chris seeks advice from another stay-at-home dad named Reed (guest star Will Forte). Reed’s not exactly the best role model; he sports gold chains, wears unbuttoned shirts with popped collars, and has a fascination with working Spanish into his everyday vernacular and calling Chris “brah.” After buying a new wardrobe thanks to some tips from Reed, Chris tries to nudge Reagan towards dressing a little sexier around the house. Reagan takes umbrage with this, upset that Chris wants her back to her usual self so soon after having given birth.
With Ava still reeling from the news of B-Ro’s engagement, Reagan makes plans to meet up with B-Ro to prove to Ava that he hasn’t changed and is still the same old insensitive jerk he’s always been. Reagan is proven wrong when she sees that B-Ro has cleaned up. He’s now sober and very involved with charities and his church. Just after Reagan admits that she misjudged B-Ro, she turns her back on Ava and B-Ro, only to find that he hasn’t changed when she witnesses the two of them in another one of their famous public screaming matches. With B-Ro out of her life once again, Ava, who only knows what’s best when it comes to relationships that aren’t her own, convinces Reagan to patch things up with Chris. Chris may have messed up, but he’ll always be leagues ahead of B-Ro. Just by sheer virtue of not being named “B-Ro,” he already has him beat.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.