In choosing to make Reagan a career-focused woman and Chris a stay-at-home dad, Up All Night was priming itself for some major juxtaposition scenes down the line. It’s considered hacky at this point to write scripts where the woman’s desire for another child gets in the way of the man’s job, and though the roles were reversed on last night’s episode “Baby Fever,” it still felt like well-trodden sitcom territory. There were a few key differences, obviously: Chris got to lament his wife’s lack of interest in a new baby while playing hockey, shoving guys around. And Reagan’s career advancement took the form of wearing her boss’s fancy jacket and spending half the day shoe shopping. If nothing else, Up All Night is the sitcom that tries enough.
I guess I just find myself longing for more overtly funny moments. It’s easy for Up All Night to settle into a groove, but like a String Cheese Incident groove that’s sort of just there. In “Baby Fever,” we at least got that moment where Reagan came home to find Chris in the bathtub wearing a fedora, which was certainly unexpected. (Mad Men returns March 25, everyone.) Everything else, though, was a few mirror images away from According To Jim.
But Up All Night has way more likable characters than almost any other show on TV, and I definitely found myself caring a whole lot about Chris’s plight. It started while on the playground with another mom who just had a new baby. Chris decided to give away all of Amy’s old clothing, but when he saw it all laid out, he realized he couldn’t part with it just yet. It’s in that moment that he decided he’d like to have another kid, which he brought up to Reagan as soon as he saw her later that night. The problem was that Reagan had had quite the day herself. She ran into Yvonne — a rare face-to-face — who recruited her to help run a new network called YES, which would encompass Ava’s show and all the other stuff under Yvonne’s powerful chin umbrella. It’s an opportunity to really grow, and under Reagan’s mentor no less. And wouldn’t you know it, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS!
Two things happened at once. Chris turned on the charm by bringing little baby Amy footage to Reagan’s office and laying out her little tiny socks all around the house — a metaphorical motioning to one’s crotch if ever there was one. And though Reagan tried to ignore his advances (both literal and figurative), she couldn’t deny that her work relationship with Yvonne was falling apart. As Luke put it later in the episode, Yvonne helped Reagan up the mountain just to throw her off, which was a test of mettle that resulted in Cheez-Its all over the floor. I’m sure she’d never have done it had she known. So basically, after an ill-fated Skype call, Reagan was back to where she started the episode: unsure about the future of her job, relegated to the sidelines babysitting Ava waiting for something good to come along. Then Chris popped out of the tub wearing his Tom Haverford hat.
The oddest part of the episode, though, was Ava’s. She’s become the Law & Order: SVU of the show, as in she gets her little thing-of-the-week to play with; then come next week we’ve all but forgotten about what she’d gotten herself into (and an innocent person is dead). This week Ava decided to take on a “Little Pal,” which is basically her mentoring a “troubled” teenager. Jamie, Ava’s little sister, isn’t really troubled; she’s a normal outcast of a teenage girl who wants nothing more than to send snarky texts to other outcasts under the guise of being a cool person. Ava refused to accept Jamie for who she was, and instead went about sniffing out a larger problem. Then, when she didn’t find one, she decided to let her freak flag fly, standing up to the teen lady-bullies pushing Jamie around hoping to score points. But in the end, Jamie ditched her for the more popular girls, and Ava was relegated to the mindset of a gangly teen. Then she was sad. The comedic genius of Maya Rudolph, everyone!
Maybe the Brinkleys need to have another kid so Amy, Ava, and the new bro or sis can have their own little adventures. Forget SVU; I smell spinoff.