Ellen D. Williams as Nicole, Zach Galifiniakis as Dale.
We finally meet the DJ Twins! A few weeks ago, a commenter posited that Chip and Dale’s adopted younger siblings might just be a product of Mama Baskets’s imagination, a way for her to cope with the tremendous disappointment she feels with her biological twins. But, nope: Mama really did adopt two identical black siblings, and they really did grow up to become wildly successful DJs who open for the likes of the Chemical Brothers. “They used a rapper called Q-Tip!” Mama Baskets offers, duly impressed.
Played by real-life twins Garry and Jason Clemmons (apparently known around L.A. as “the Brentwood jogging twins“), the elusive perfect sons are painfully enthusiastic about everything from hot dogs to their own lovemaking tracks. They’re always the life of the party, though it’s not hard to be the life of a Baskets family gathering. They are a strange presence, as if they’ve descended from another planet entirely, and we might wonder how two outgoing, megatalented individuals emerged from such an oppressive, offbeat household.
The twins are so in-demand, in fact, that they no longer have time for the family that raised them. Chip, on the other hand, has too much time — and it’s this dynamic that drives tonight’s episode. At the start of “DJ Twins,” Chip has a rare moment of professional success: a chance to be put in the running for Mr. Rodeo. (Whatever that is.) But he feels immediately shamed by his moment of euphoria when Mama announces the twins will make a rare visit home. Chip uses his Mr. Rodeo training as an excuse to avoid helping her and Dale prepare for the family reunion. How great is that shot of Chip, through the back window, practicing on his unicycle while Mama preps her cheeseburger pizza and Dale heads to the furniture rental? He’s literally goofing off while the family works.
As the day wears on and it seems the twins will blow off the one person most desperate to see them, we witness a more complicated dynamic: Chip sacrifices his shot at Mr. Rodeo to stick around and keep Mama Baskets company. That is to say, he seems to sense his own accomplishments will never measure up for his mother, and instead plays the martyr to keep himself permanently below Mama’s unsaturated vision of the DJ twins.
It’s a gradual shift at first, one that doesn’t become clear until after the twins have shown up, showered Mama in free Dasani water (“It has robustness. For water”), made an early exit, and cancelled the next morning’s breakfast plans because “we’re usually hungover.” This is the point where Chip does what has become a Baskets trademark: He makes an extraordinarily stupid and misguided decision. In this case, he forgoes his job (and Mr. Rodeo audition) to drive all the way to the music festival where the twins are performing — and all to deliver the heartbreaking admission that the Baskets family “isn’t the best situation to be in,” followed by a laughably simple message. “Just call Mom,” he tells them. “Or write her. Hit her up on Twitter.”
It’s a familiar sitcom resolution (ditching a professional obligation for a personal or emotional one), turned exquisitely depressing by the rhythms of this show. For all Chip knows, Mr. Rodeo was the only shot he’ll ever get at making something of himself. By skipping it, and sticking his boss with piss-drunk Dingo instead, he may have sealed his fate as an eternal bottom feeder, eternally dependent on his mother, who has perhaps unwittingly ensured Chip will never see enough success to make it on his own. Though a kind and loving gesture on its surface, Chip’s decision comes with an underlying discomfort that makes it difficult to endorse as the right move, for either him or the show. How much longer can this self-destruction still entertain us?
Louie Anderson’s work, conversely, keeps getting better and better with every episode. When Mama discovers Dale rented the wrong shade of table from the furniture store, his utter disgust is a thing of beauty. It’s a deeper plunge down the rabbit hole of Mama’s idiosyncrasies: She envisions a fun-house idea of the perfect American household, where Arby’s is fine dining and the best home furniture is rented. (Varnish, too!) When the entire Baskets clan (plus Martha) gathers at the dinner table, we see for truly the first time just how fundamentally strange this family is — but unlike other wacky-family sitcoms, we can also see how dedicated the show has become to portraying them in a sympathetic, un-cartoonish way.
It’s this dedication that will either save Baskets from it own weirdness, or kill it by leaving us too depressed to function. Let’s hope relief for Chip arrives in a timelier manner than the DJ Twins.
- It’s such a silly running gag, but dammit if that cricket didn’t have me in tears every time.
- Further confirmation that Chip was a really, really bad student at clown school: He doesn’t know how to do even the most basic clown tricks. He seems more driven by the mere idea of successful clowning than by the actual dedication and hard work it takes to master a craft.
- Having said that, the early montage of Chip winning over rodeo crowds is the most joyous thing Baskets has produced to date, and might also be the first time Zach Galifianakis has smiled on his own show. We’ve watched this character suffer for so long; at long last, he’s succeeding at the thing he always wanted. And it’s not weird!
- And then the flip-flipside: Chip getting locked out of the house after fetching the crate of “Dasanti” is one of the many emasculating moments this show offers its protagonist on a regular basis.
- There are hints in this episode that Mama’s role in driving Penelope out of the country will also drive a wedge between her and Chip, once he finds out what she’s done. It’s certainly not subtle when she sings, “Everybody makes mistakes.”
- Not enough good Dale moments in this episode (apart from “Yeah, I’ve been at volleyball practice. Something adults do”). Though I did like the fact that, as pathetic as Chip has become, his family still prefers his company to Dale’s.
- This week in “Meg from Family Guy or Martha?”: She’s genuinely looking out for Chip’s success, and perhaps as a result of that, the family treats her a little softer than usual. (The DJ Twins even offer her a hot dog.) But when it’s just her and Chip, he still treats her like dirt, snapping at her to “shut up and drive” when they bypass the rodeo for the music festival. Of course, Chip probably won’t find true success until he starts being nice to Martha, so we’ll be waiting a while.