Who among us hasn’t slummed it to pay the bills? Sure, we all go to college full of principles and standards and whatever, and we may or may not have plastered that Shepard Fairey HOPE poster on our dorm-room walls, or maybe just something vaguely artsy that suggested to our peers that we wanted more, that we would never sacrifice our morals on the altar of something as distasteful, something as callous as commerce.
And then. Then you find out about life. Like, real life. Have you ever noticed how expensive it is? It’s really expensive! Also: taxes. There are so many of them. And you don’t even get one of those letters, like when you agree to sponsor a tree or endangered animal in a distant land, assuring you that your investment is well spent, with a photograph of a public-school teacher or a friendly blurb about a fire department. For all you know, your taxes are mostly going toward drones. You think Carrie Mathison was the drone queen? We are all drone queens.
This unfortunate place in which we reside — reality — is also where Jimmy finds himself. Our precious novelist, paying for his decent digs alone (much respect to Gretchen’s strategic freeloading) must slum it in some non-novel-writing pursuit. Hey, as he points out, Faulkner was a mailman! Kafka was a clerk! And so, too, must Jimmy find gainful employment. He winds up in the novelization business.
I love the vicious evisceration of the corporate drones (not the same drones that our taxes sponsor, though; different drones) who suggest Jimmy could mine a narrative from such thrilling properties as Burgerhole. “We prioritize more amorphous in-house ideas sparked by properties in the Burgerhole multiverse that have the most mental real-estate.” I mean. Corporate was also thinking of something involving French fries? Could be a fish-out-of-water thing! And don’t forget the Dragonator. That is a dragon with a goddamn roller coaster for a tail. “Maybe he’s a single dad? I don’t know. You’re the writer!” (Don’t get too attached to that one; halfway through the episode, it winds up in the hands of Neil Gaiman.)
Ultimately, they land in Jimmy’s sweet spot: NCIS: L.A. It’s his favorite, though he tries (and fails) to keep his cool. Gretchen judges his life choices at first by asking, in a very disgusted voice, “You’re not writing recaps, are you?” I CAN HEAR YOU, GRETCHEN.
Anyway, it turns out novelization is very difficult, and Jimmy has one of those solve-a-mystery crazy boards just to keep track of all the plot threads. And Killian says it doesn’t track!
In a delightful but kind of bizarre twist, Jimmy still gets off to erotica he wrote in his preteen years. This is, as Gretchen puts it, the most Jimmy thing he’s ever done.
Meanwhile, Gretchen is masterminding her clients’ fake fight — “I’m sure they meant ‘soft-ass poser bitch’ in a meta way” — while realizing that her friendship with Lindsay fails to pass the Bechdel test. “We are complex women with rich inner lives! Let's act like it and talk about something other than dicks and the dildos they hang off of!” But Gretchen’s protestations do little to improve matters — much as I love Lindsay’s efforts to learn about important issues by siding with mutually exclusive internet factions and using that “sound it out” method of reading education that was in fashion when I was in elementary school. (“ISIS formed a cellophane.”) They try to break out of their patterns by just shit-talking women they know, and Lindsay decides that what they are doing is feminism, which, sure! Who even knows what feminism is anymore. Meryl Streep is apparently a humanist now? Sigh.
Edgar's at improv again. It is … bad. But bad in a way that is fun for us! “Excuse me, sir, you may be a dog, but that doesn't make you handicapped.” “And scene!” It is here that Edgar meets his potential love interest: Dorothy, “the lone vulva” on Tall Nathan’s improv team.
Jimmy joins Edgar at the long-form improv show in an effort to feel better about himself — he can’t be worse at his gig than these wannabe comics, right? Wrong! Jimmy finds them hilarious and, as a result, is depressed. His heckles go un-heckled. (Probably for the best, considering he was working with gems like, “Instead of improv comedy, why don't you kill yourselves and IMPROVE comedy.”) He’s particularly impressed with Tall Nathan, who did improv on a cruise ship. Jimmy tells Edgar he’s never done anything quite as impressive, which, really, dude? Edgar served two tours in Iraq.
You know who does appreciate Edgar’s veteran status? Dorothy. Even though Edgar says he didn’t even see “the cool parts of Iraq. I was in Fallujah, which is basically their San Diego.” Dorothy is totally bowled over by the fact that Edgar was “in the shit,” and she dismisses Tall Nathan unceremoniously. As a sort of revenge, Tall Nathan swipes Edgar’s phone to ignore Lindsay (“new phone who dis”), but I actually think this attempted sabotage is an accidental act of kindness. Focusing on Dorothy instead of Lindsay is the best thing Edgar could do right now.
That night, Gretchen is reading Jimmy's erotic tales. “They're hella hot!” Oh my gosh, is Jimmy going to write “the first truly literary erotic novel since Portnoy's Complaint”? Because, okay! I’m in. Even if Gretchen is not in. Because she is still sneaking out. And Jimmy? He is wide awake.
An excerpt, for your, ahh, pleasure; “Welinda bathed herself in milk ... Welinda cried out, no! Don't you dare look away, you naughty baker boy! Take in the wholeness of my nudity.”
The worst: Corporate. French fries? Really? Ugh.
Runners-up: David Copperfield (didn’t even do any magic), Navy villains (they’re one degree from pirates), postpartum murders (so basic), telling someone about a dream that doesn't feature them sexually, getting banned from the equestrian center.
A few good things: Erotic Tales by Jimmy Shive-Overly, Amy’s job signing at Beyoncé concerts.