Did you think Jimmy was the only (sort of) sociopath in this batch of broken toys with parent issues? Well, we've already had the displeasure of meeting the milk-guzzling duo that made Gretchen into … whatever it is Gretchen is now, so this week's episode gives us something a little bit better and a whole lot more damaging: Gretchen co-splaying as her own mom among her group of friends, like some kind of emotionally manipulative Wendy leading around the Lost Boys.
Justina points out that Gretchen naps in the middle of her sessions and generally seems to be disinterested in therapy; Gretchen points out that Justina seems to only wear one pair of jeans. Honestly, we're looking at equally valid critiques here from two mature, thoughtful women. Justina — who definitely remembers Gretchen's pathetic, hilarious plea to call her "mommy" from the day they met — wants to know what the deal is with Gretchen's mother. Gretchen is all, "If I biffed a tennis match, she would take away my sheets and pillows. But that is what made me strong. My friends had chill parents who didn't push them and now they're all unmotivated babies." Wait, isn't Gretchen also an unmotivated baby? Something tells me an epiphany is coming in [checks watch] approximately 21 minutes!
But first, Gretch must make the selfish mistake of thinking she should treat her friends the way her mother treated her so as to snap them out of their uselessness and into productive, meaningful lives. The only person I'm really worried about here is Edgar who, whenever his friends interfere with his life, finds himself far worse off than before, and who, at the present moment, is actually on the way to becoming a functional, well-adjusted guy.
First up: Jimmy. He is playing Zoo Entrepreneur, which, as I understand it, is sort of like if a Tamagotchi were an exotic animal living inside of The Sims? Jimmy needs to feed and tend to his creatively named charges — Trunky the elephant, who has severe ADHD; Necky the giraffe, conditions TBA — but Gretchen unplugs the router. Even as Jimmy protests that "feeding the giraffe and washing the rhinoceri exercises everything that a writer needs for a productive day: problem-solving, imagination, word-having."
I would like to note here that my affection for Killian, who is (probably) homeless and roughly 13 years old, runs deep. He reminds Jimmy that he promised his agent two chapters by the end of the week. Jimmy's reply: "Well, we ALL make promises we can't keep, Killian. Like you with your Presidential Fitness Challenge."
Through Edgar, Jimmy realizes that he lives near a reservoir and so he takes his weak, pale British skin out into the air. This sequence is delightful, in part because of how Jimmy describes everything he sees and does like someone running a foreign language through a snobby Google translate to bring it back to English. (To a dog playing fetch: "You retrieved the projectile!" To basketball players: "What an invigorating hand sport!") Jimmy discovers cart fruit, much to his glee, but then he twists his ankle and, uninsured writer that he is, turns to Vernon for medical care.
Turns out Vernon has a podcast called Vernon Down the House that has 20,000 followers! And while appearing on it, he and Becca seem to … like each other? It's the first time I've thought, Oh, okay, those kids have some chemistry, I get maybe why they went on a few dates. (Why they got married, we may never know.) It is on this podcast that Jimmy has one crazy — cue sound effect — insight. He became a writer to annoy his dad. Without his dad, why be a writer anymore? What if what he was really meant to do was …
… oh, sorry, we've got to go to commercial.
Lindsay is still screwing Raul while Paul watches (so cruel how close their names are!), but Paul's very unsexy commentary — "What, another iOS upgrade?" — kills the mood. Later, with Gretchen, she pouts over her pancakes because Paul ruined her orgasm with not-Paul. Gretchen enlightens Lindsay that what she's up to is called cuckolding, and Lindsay says she "just want to be normal and cheat on my husband without feeling guilty about it." LINDSAY. NOT FEELING GUILTY ABOUT HURTING OTHER PEOPLE IS NOT NORMAL. Gretchen's A+ counsel here: Be a winner, fuck whoever.
So Lindsay explains to Paul that what she wants to do (i.e. screw other guys without him around) is a totally regular fetish that she's just indulging for his sake. She continues to say "family" like a skittish Hogwarts student would say, "Voldemort." Paul handles this in a super-rational way: By researching cuckolding on the internet, buying a penis cage, and inviting over Raul and Raul's friend to bone Lindsay's brains out while he shouts, "I'm a worm!"
Literally the only good thing to come out of this is Lindsay texting Gretchen that she needs "an abobo ASAP," along with some very graphic emoji.
I will say, although the Edgar plot is painful (and, I think, predictable), it allows Gretchen to do her finest, most brutal mom impression. She unloads the clearly-still-haunting-her specifics ("Just because you got your period at 11 does not make you a woman") along with the painful and universal: "Sometimes I think I care about this more than you do. Is that the shirt you're wearing?" I love that Edgar has this secret life where he records such dopey, endearing web videos. (He even answers viewer mail! "I write the questions myself.") But as soon as Edgar is required to (1) hold up a blank white poster and (2) stand in front of a blue screen, we know exactly where this is headed: His thoughtful, considered message about how underfunded the VA is and how marijuana helps him manage his PTSD is hijacked into some obnoxious pro-pot lobbying bullshit.
Edgar is outraged. "You got me in with the pot people! They're the worst people! Worse than people who study abroad or atheists." (What about grad students?) Gretchen, too, gets an insight of her own: Her mom's pushiness is what led her to "start doing drugs and have unprotected sex with college boys." She goes running back to Justina, who, miraculously, has not "fired" Gretchen from therapy yet. And to Justina's boyfriend, who, for the record, is a "five out of ten, would bang."
The worst: LINDSAY. GET IT TOGETHER, GIRL.
Runners up: Taking out your mommy issues on your friends, buying a penis cage, trying to find a workaround for cheating on your husband, ordering veggies instead of mozzarella sticks, the weed lobby, trying to train your body to learn it does not deserve erotic satisfaction, the arbitrary and cruel nature of the Presidential Fitness Challenge (especially when I had to do it back in elementary school when our president wasn't even fit).
A few good things: Naming a boa constrictor "Squeezy," hipster picnics, "hooping b-ball with some diverse local athletes."