Let’s jump right into this thing. We open on Billy and Julie being very loud in a bloodmobile — Julie’s in it for the high-glucose cookies, and Billy’s in it for the opportunity to yell about the draconian restrictions on gay men giving blood. They both abuse the phlebotomist, which sounds like a sex act but is not.
If you think about how obnoxious they’re acting, and how the other blood donors are ignoring them completely, your mind might go to a whole Sixth Sense place for second.
We learn that designer Christian Siriano is launching a line of clown-inspired couture for New York Fashion Week, and he’s using female comedians as models. This sets up a nice bit of business for Julie: She says, “Yeah, I should be a fashion model!” while stuffing her face with what, in fairness, really do seem like pretty good cookies.
There follows an exchange that seems small but isn’t, Julie cracks a joke about Hannibal, and Billy laughs. It’s important, that moment, because it grounds their friendship in reality. When your funny friend says a funny thing, you laugh, because you are a human being. Sitcoms tend to believe people stand around lobbing affectless zingers like baseball-pitching machines, and you’d expect a show as joke-dense as this one to double down on that dynamic. Instead, it finds moments like this one, which give its characters room to breathe. Good on you, show!
Billy heads off to his audition as the voice of a cartoon beaver, tosses off a waspish dig at Scandal, and … TITLE CARD!
Soon enough, Julie and Billy sneak into a Fashion Week party and decide to win the shallow fashionistas and fashionistos over by being extremely rude. It works, of course, because obnoxiousness is their mutant ability. (How do we feel about “Jewess” and “Surly” for their X-Men code names? No, yeah, I’ll keep workshopping it.) Billy introduces Julie as “the comedian’s comedian’s comedian” (not the best joke of the episode, but probably my favorite), and she lands the Siriano gig. Billy approaches a cadre of identically clad A-list gays and negs on them, basically, with a joke about Jersey Boys.
The next day, Billy regales Julie with his tale of debauchery from the previous evening, which ended with a fashion orgy. (“I totally see why we can’t give blood now!”) Michael and Lola get a scene all to themselves, which is nice, wherein they comically fail to help a choking victim, and Billy learns he aced the beaver audition.
That one also sounds like a sex act, and probably is.
Julie borrows some “Columbian shapewear” from Marilyn, who is legitimately delighted for her daughter, and concerned about her health. Seriously, the geologic time that passes between “You feel fat … I MEANT WARM” is one hell of a funny ellipsis.
There follows a longish scene in which everyone at the diner is terrible to a woman who tries to teach them CPR. Well, not everyone: Denise isn’t there, and Nate is easily the nicest character on the show — Arthur included. Though I suppose we should adjust that ranking, as Nate does nothing to dissuade his employees from hurling invectives at poor Marcy the CPR lady. Arthur, you’re back at the top of the ranking!
The upshot of the scene: Billy is invited to join the A-list gays, as one of their number was killed in a freak Ferris wheel accident. I really like this show.
In a gorgeously shot and freakishly accurate sequence that pays homage to The Shining, we learn that Julie’s flu is in full flower: She’s feverish (hence The Shining visions) and sweaty. She shows up to her apartment, where Christian Siriano is waiting to do her fitting.
Siriano is quite good here, playing himself as too distant and self-involved to generate much concern about a woman who looks like late-stage Contagion Gwyneth. “I mixed Cipro with high-glucose cookies and diet pills,” Julie explains. “Ah,” says Siriano. “The Evangelista.” Ladies and gentlemen, your Best Joke of the Episode.
On the set, Billy learns that the beaver he’s playing won’t be animated at all, but live-action. He seeks assurances from his director (played by beloved character actor Austin Pendleton who was in every ’70s movie you’ve ever seen!) that his face will not be visible, because, though he needs the gig for the insurance, he’s not crazy about being known for singing and dancing on a kids’ show about how to use the toilet and wipe oneself:
You know what I like even more than you
Using the potty when I pee and poo
Wipe wipe wipe! Till you see the white!
I dunno why he’s so snooty about it. If that was like 20 percent gayer, it’d be Cole Porter.
This week’s montage, complete with kicky organ music, explains Julie’s sickness by showing her licking the sundry things on a New York street it is inadvisable to lick. Billy makes a Scientology joke I had to Google, and sums up the human condition very goddamn pithily: “Dreams are coming true for us! They just don’t happen to be our dreams.” We get the episode title from the fact that Julie watches what turns out to be an actual Hallmark Channel show called Cedar Cove (starring Andie MacDowell!) when she needs to turn off her brain. That’s two things I had to Google in one scene, and I am pretty squarely ensconced in this show’s target demo.
We get a nice healthy back-and-forth between Arthur and Marilyn, in which they step up to do the Real Housewives recaps Julie is too sick to complete. “Julie’s job is very easy,” says Marilyn, which: fair. A reference is made to RHOC’s Brooks Ayers’s fake cancer, a thing I didn’t have to Google because while I don’t watch Real Housewives, I am a person living in the world in 2016 and not a cave creature from The Descent. Julie, though still violently ill, sneaks out of the apartment to go to the fashion show.
Meanwhile, Billy learns that his face will be visible as he plays the Beaver That Teaches Kids About the Potty. He, like his rotator cuff, is torn: He needs the insurance, but he doesn’t want the A-list gays to find out about the gig. (Technically, yes, his shoulder’s dislocated, but cut me some slack, I needed the simile.)
Backstage, Julie drags herself into the fashion show. And yeah, Klausner’s a lot of fun in sick mode: “I had the uh-uhs in a Dunkin Donuts bathroom. But now I’M HERE! YOU’RE QUEER! NOW LET’S WEAR SOME CLOTHES!”
Arthur and Marilyn discover that Julie’s missing and agree to meet Billy at the fashion show. He runs off the set in his beaver costume, for no readily discernible reason, and to the consternation of his easily consternated director, and of a labially fixated craft-service guy.
At the fashion show (which is attended by the A-list gays), Julie goes up right after Judy Gold, who gets no lines, weirdly enough, but looks like she’s having a great time. We expect Julie to simply trip on the runway, à la Carrie Bradshaw, but this show is not that show: She chokes, trips, spits out a lozenge, and nails the dismount by vomiting into Billy’s beaver-suit diaper.
We get a funny (and really kind of sweet) exchange between a post-barf Julie and Marilyn, and learn that both Billy and Julie are famous, as the front page of the next day’s New York Post screams, “Clown Whore Pukes on Gay Beaver.” Which, while accurate and descriptive, seems like the Post on an off-day. “Dam, Girl!” “Busty Babe Blows Beaver!” “Leave It to Vomit!” Something like that.
Julie’s dalliance with high fashion is over, and Billy’s lost his beaver job and been kicked out of New York’s seedy gay elite. Once again, Julie has screwed things up for Billy. I’m trying to recall an episode where the reverse is true, and not coming up with one. Huh. What gives, show?
Next week: The season finale, and they’re going out with a star-studded bang. Yes … blah blah … Julianne Moore … very impressive. I’m talking RICHARD GODDAMN KIND IN THE HIZZOUSE, BITCHES.