After taking a few weeks to finding its strengths and work out the kinks, Up All Night is hitting a mid-first season stride, with last night’s episode becoming the latest in a string of solid episodes that have improved significantly from where the show started. The biggest issue the show’s had is that Maya Rudolph’s character Ava, whose role in Up All Night was beefed up in response to the overwhelming success of Bridesmaids, spends most episodes in her own plotline that feel like an entirely different show from the one Reagan and Chris are in. Maya Rudolph was once again confined to her own storyline in “First Time Away,” but it dovetailed nicely with the Reagan and Chris story. Bringing in a recurring love interest for Ava who fits into Reagan and Chris’s suburban parent world should help to unify the show a bit more in the weeks that follow, as the show’s main three characters are now pieces on the same chessboard.
After realizing they haven’t had sex in six weeks due to their duties as new parents, Reagan and Chris hire a babysitter to look after their daughter while they spend their first night away from her relighting the spark in their sex life and catching up on some much-needed sleep. When the babysitter cancels, Ava bullies a reluctant Reagan into letting her watch the kid. Ava is looking for a way to distract herself from her flailing with relationship with sleazy nightclub owner Julian (played by Chris Diamantopoulos). From the little we’ve seen of Ava’s romantic life so far, she’s drawn to hip douchebags like Julian, and the only other significant man in her life we’ve seen so far, her popstar ex-fiancee B-Ro (played by Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone) in “Working Late and Working It.” Ava’s aware of the problem, though, lamenting that she never gets to meet normal guys.
Reagan and Chris are wary of leaving Amy in Ava’s hands, and their fears prove to be completely justified. Ava loses Amy (albeit briefly) before Chris and Reagan even check in at the hotel. Ava is enjoying pretending she has a normal life, pushing Amy through the suburbs in a stroller, acting like someone who’s not a superstar talk show host. On the stroll, she runs into Kevin (Jason Lee), a neighborhood parent who stops to say hi to Amy. Kevin’s a superdad who is #1 at the top of Chris and Reagan’s contact list (and several other parents’ lists, as well). He’s also extremely well-read on child health and even teaches a baby CPR class. Is this the normal guy Ava’s been looking for?
Enjoying their first night away from the kid, Reagan and Chris crash a high school homecoming dance at their hotel. They have a romantic night together at the dance and back in the bedroom, where they discover they each requested the hotel’s romance package. As soon as they’re getting down to business, Reagan and Chris find they accidentally brought Amy’s tiny baby sock with them, which reminds them of how much they miss their daughter. They call Ava to check on Amy but become comically panicked when she doesn’t pick up. They start to fear that Amy is in danger and race home.
Ava’s ignoring her cell phone because she’s called Kevin over to help Amy, who’s stuck in her high chair. Kevin ends up staying at the house longer than he had planned when he and Ava hit it off . Chris and Reagan arrive at home but stop themselves before entering when they see Ava and Kevin flirting inside. After much anticipation from Chris and Reagan, Ava and Kevin start to make out, but Chris and Reagan make so much excited noise when it happens that they freak out Ava, who thinks there are burglars in the yard. Ava fiercely threatens the intruders, proving to Chris and Reagan that she’s a fit babysitter after all. Chris and Reagan begin to reminisce about their first kiss and then rush back to the hotel to have sex. The next morning, their joy over the full eight hours of sleep they got overshadows any memories of sex from the night before.
Jason Lee, an NBC vet who was last seen on the network in My Name is Earl, is a welcome addition to the show, with his superdad character drawing Ava further into Chris and Reagan’s suburban world, which means she’ll be able to find her way into the Chris and Reagan storylines a little easier in coming weeks. Lee will be back for at least two more episodes this season (and probably more), so get used to seeing him around Up All Night. The show has an incredibly small regular cast to begin with, so tacking on Jason Lee, who fits nicely into this world, as a recurring character is a smart move.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.