My two favorite parts of this otherwise mediocre episode come at the very beginning. The first is Tan France, an English-born Pakistani whose last name is as continental as a breakfast of yogurt and pain au chocolat, calling America tacky. Yes, we are the home of glamour shots and truck nuts, but that doesn’t mean that this dude wearing a florescent beige animal-print top has the right to call us tacky. If anyone is going to call us tacky it’s going to be us Americans. And, girl, are we tacky.
The other best part is when the Fab Five go to the little town of Clarkston, Georgia (population about 18,000) and just start shouting that they want the mayor. As Bobby drives the conjoined twin of a pickup truck and van down the streets of this town, Karamo and the others are in the flatbed screaming from a bullhorn that they need to know where the mayor is. Finally they come upon a lady at the bus stop who says, “I know where he is. We’re friends on Facebook.” The only thing that could possibly make this scene any more 2018 is if we found out she’s also Facebook friends with a bunch of Russian hackers, and then she declared that everyone on the face of the Earth is “cancelled.”
Turns out the mayor is a lovely gentleman named Ted who is about as old as Al Gore’s internet, and as hairy as Bob Ross’s hairbrush that Jonathan has framed in a shadowbox and hung up in his salon in West Hollywood. Ted, a Bernie Sanders delegate who has a “resistance beard” that he started growing the night Hillary Clinton lost the election, does not look like a typical mayor. He’s quite young and prefers Dickies khakis and a dirty button-down to whatever it is that mayors usually wear. (A tuxedo, a tiny top hot, and a sash?)
We also get to meet Ted’s girlfriend Andrea, formally called the Mayoress. She has tattoos, a partially shaved head, and stretchers in her ears. Just by the looks of them, we can come up with a lot of assumptions about Ted and Andrea. They look like the kind of people who would have chickens in their backyard. They look like the type of people that wouldn’t have a dining room table, but would have an entire room of their house devoted to yoga. They look like the type of people that would mostly decorate using Urban Outfitters tapestries on their walls and a lot of mandala-like wall stencils. Well, it turns out all of those things are totally true.
Here are some other things about Ted and Andrea that I also assumed but do not know to actually be true. They met in the parking lot of a Phish concert when sharing a bong shaped like R2-D2. They’re always stealing each other’s “I Stand with PP” tote bags to go to the farmer’s market. Their favorite show is BoJack Horseman. They have at least one friend who is really into doing aerial silks. There is a bottle of carob-flavored lube somewhere under their bed.
OK, enough picking on Ted and Andrea. The Fab Five have to get them ready to have delegates form Sierra Leone and the Philippines over their house for a dinner party, so that is actually a big legit job. Antoni takes them to a fancy restaurant in Atlanta to show them what fine dining should look like. He then teaches Ted how to grill peaches on some weird infrared cooking machine that looks like it is part of Skynet and one day will aid in the overthrow of mankind. The guests are suitably impressed with Ted’s cooking skills, so that is a bonus.
Tan gets him to gussy up his wardrobe a bit, but not too much. He still wants Ted to be a young and hip mayor, just maybe not wearing the same stiff khakis every day, and definitely investing in some shoes that are not awful canvas sneakers that look like all of the chickens in the backyard have been pecking at them since Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House. Tan does a good job at this, and for the dinner party Ted is wearing a blue plaid shirt, a nice but informal blazer, and some cuffed chinos with no socks over a pair of smart brown shoes. It’s very presidential millennial.
When he was showing Ted his closet, I noticed that a lot of the labels were from H&M. I don’t think this is a sponsorship deal, it’s maybe that the production is cheaping out and getting him a bunch of discount clothes. I mean, can’t they at least spring for like J. Crew or Banana Republic or something? Ted is a sitting public servant.
Bobby actually did a great job with the house and turned their yoga room into a dining room that looked like the private dining area at the second-best farm-to-table restaurant in Colombia, South Carolina. I actually really did like how he put wood detailing into the bedroom to make it look cool and Pottery Barn-ish. It now has a little bit of soul, but like a soul that you could buy from a catalog. But what the hell did Bobby do to the closet that used to be in the yoga room? He says it’s gone now. Did he just cover it up? That is storage genocide and I will not stand for it. We are Americans and we need our things, all of our tacky things, and the closets to put them in.
The worst scene of the whole episode was when Karamo takes Ted to introduce him to the Georgia State high school speech champion to teach Ted how to be a better public speaker, so that the people of the town take him more seriously. At first I was like, “Why should we trust this kid?” but Karamo wrapped a little lesson in there for all of us. How can Ted expect people older than him to trust his expertise if he doesn’t trust the expertise of someone who was just forced to register for the draft? Damn, I hate it when Karamo is right.
But that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part came when Karamo got Ted to loosen up his public speaking style by having him and this kid face off in a rap battle. Um, two suburban white dudes from Georgia who probably spend more time listening to Alabama Shakes than Kanye West is an awful rap battle going to make. Ted didn’t even try to rhyme, he was just spouting out stats about his time with some sort of stilted rhythm that sounded like a metronome was trying to make love to a Teddy Ruxpin doll.
While I’m usually a big Jonathan fan and I definitely think that Ted needed to do something about the bleached robin’s nest that was on his face, I don’t really like how Jonathan styled him. The hair is fine, but as he was shortening and shortening Ted’s beard, I thought it looked good enough to keep. Maybe just a little Ryan Gosling beard, like that sexy little whiff of a blonde beard, would go a long way toward making him look a little bit older and a little bit edgier than the final clean-shaven look.
When Jonathan spun him around in his chair for the reveal, he sort of looked like the high school kid he was just in a rap battle against. Usually I think making yourself look younger is always a good thing, but maybe the mayor needs a little bit of gravitas? I think so. I’m going to go so far as to say that he actually looked better before Jonathan got his hands on him. Sorry JVN, I love you like a radical fairy loves having sex while covered in glitter, but not this time.
This episode really did disappoint me, though. I thought because of the title that they were going to be meeting with a conservative politician and making him over on the outside and trying to make him over a little bit on the inside too. It’s not that progressives and radicals like Ted don’t deserve to look good and feel good about themselves, but what has been great about this reboot of the show is bringing people of different backgrounds and ideologies together to figure out what they have in common and learn from each other. Ted seemed like he could be any of the Fab Five’s crunchy younger brother. This is the America that is already great. Now we just need to work on making over the other half.