Bored to Death Reality Index: Take a Walk on the White Side

Bored to Death

The Case of the Missing Screenplay
Season 1 Episode 3

“The Case of the Missing Screenplay” is itself missing what you’d think would be a key component of this show — a client for our private investigator protagonist. Instead, he’s after a wayward copy of the script given to him by Jim Jarmusch to rewrite. The tenuous connection to Jarmush gets Jonathan Ames the girl — who is, it turns out, quite literally a girl. She’s a 16-year-old student at St. Ann’s, and she lures Ames to her therapist father’s office for a roll on the couch. Dad conveniently busts into the room, and Jonathan busts a move out of the bathroom window, leaving the screenplay behind. Meanwhile, George finally gets some after bagging his own Jarmusch groupie, and Ray edges closer to the nookie when Jonathan talks him into posing as a patient for the girl’s father. (Ray’s girlfriend has agreed to trade sex for his therapy.) But Ray emerges from the doctor’s office with an eviscerated ego — and no script. Jonathan finally recovers the screenplay after suffering a “Come to Jung” talk from the cliché-spewing shrink (plus a post-session punch to the gut), but it’s too late — Jarmusch has gone with Charlie Kaufman. But never mind the plausibility of the plot: How true to New York was this episode?

We’ve Been There
• Jonathan and his editor confab at a distinctly Algonquin-ish hotel bar, where they run into George’s nemesis, the GQ editor (played by a fey Oliver Platt) who has stolen the heart of George’s “best ex-wife” (who is also there, resplendent in pearls). Given the Algonquin’s writerly history, it makes perfect sense they’d all pick this lush, old-world room for their meeting place. Plus 2.

• The underage hottie who devours Jonathan at the New York Film Society party isn’t an NYU student but a St. Ann’s brat. It’s where all good shrinks send their hip kids. Plus 2.

• After their public display of affection, Jonathan suggests he and the girl grab a drink at a “Smith Street bar.” Also known as Brooklyn’s “restaurant row,” the street is also a favorite for effete imbibers (see: Clover Club). Plus 1.

• When Jonathan anxiously confesses to George that he nearly committed statutory rape, the editor makes a well-timed (if unintentionally so) Polanski reference. Woody Allen would have been too obvious. Plus 1.

• Jarmusch’s work space is a Red Hook-y warehouse furnished with little more than a desk and tons of room for him to ride around in circles on his cruiser bike. Paging David Byrne! Plus 1.

A Likely Story
• Jarmusch and Ames make their acquaintance at the New York Film Society party, which is held at the synagogue-turned-downtown-event-space Angel Orensanz. It seems a bit too musty and crumbly for that kind of affair, especially late in the night when it starts to resemble another re-purposed church, the former Limelight. Minus 1.

• Brownstone Brooklyn nearly all white, all the time? What happened to the Huxtables? But seriously: A single black extra per episode does not an accurate Brooklyn depiction make. Minus 2.

• George’s ultra-modern, sprawling Manhattan apartment is almost too sprawling. He’s a Graydon Carteresque editor, sure, but he’s not a billionaire. Minus 1.

• Jonathan bribes Ray with a dinner at Sammy’s Roumanian steak house. But we’d more easily picture these two at Freeman’s: They’d definitely like their beef with a side of taxidermy. Minus 1.

We’ve Been There by two points! There’s plenty to nitpick in Bored to Death’s New York, but mostly it feels all-too familiar.

Bored to Death Reality Index: Take a Walk on the White Side