Thursday, October 25, 2012

Underemployed: two men, three women, and a baby

Posted By on 10.25.12 at 11:30 AM

Underemployed episode two recap
  • "I'm thinking of starting her a Twitter called @AllGoodBabyBaby"
If there is one pursuit that captures the American Dream, it's "How do we become better than our parents?" The question was bandied about a bit on Tuesday night's episode of Underemployed, MTV's new comedy about five implausibly attractive twentysomethings with dreams that won't be deterred by any Great Recession. Judging by the show, you become better than Ma and Pa by accepting the gays, resisting the urge to clean your new room, and trying out communal parenting.

It's been two or three days since Raviva gave birth to Rosemary in the show's premiere, and it's time for them to move out of the hospital and in with "baby daddy" Lou. The fun-loving crew careers around the hospital, packing and playing, and into Lou and Miles's criminally spacious loft at Grand and the river. They may not have great careers just yet, but they're proud they stick together through thick and thin. "Did our parents have friends like this?" one asks. "No, not like this," says another, perhaps underestimating the earlier generation's ability to bond over illegitimate children. A pact is advanced, "the ultimate Bat Signal": whenever one friend calls it in, the others will drop whatever they're doing and help, no matter what. Well, as Chekhov once said, when you hang a loaded Bat Signal on the wall in the first act . . .

I'm beginning to think these kidults have ready access to powerful mood stabilizers and that I need to find a more amenable doctor—nothing seems to faze these guys, and that's not just down to the "acting." Case in point: This morning is the first that Lou's "baby baby" and "baby mama" Raviva are staying in his loft, and Raviva wants him to stick around today—you know, help out, show them around, set up her things. But he can't really ask for time off on his third day of work at a corporation run by his douchebag dad. It'd be completely understandable if this dude's hair were falling out at the conflict, but he is cool as a hipster clam, because, see, he needs to get to work and can't take any time off just yet, sorry honey, enjoy your day with the baby, and can I have my cell phone please?

Bad idea. Turns out, Lou's new boss has some kind of vendetta against personal phone calls at work ("The phone system isn't a personal turntable where you DJ your life, brah," he says, wonderfully) meaning Raviva gets increasingly isolated. Holy chronometer, Batman, it's already time for the Bat Signal! Lou mobilizes the gang, doling out detailed instructions. (Couldn't he have called his baby mama instead? Oh, right, an MTV show, sorry.)

Model Miles blows off his baby-hating live-in girlfriend at work to buy a crib with Lou, go home, and assemble it without letting Raviva know. Daphne takes her full-time boss and part-time lover thrifting for baby clothes, which is where we learn, via her hatred of thrifting and green-consciousness, that she's the show's token Republican. Sophia, meanwhile, feigns diarrhea at her doughnut-slinging gig to make for Pilsen and a cheap mixer, Lou's idea for encouraging Raviva to make the music she loves. In the dark about the machinations of friendship spinning all around her, Raviva calls her mother in desperation for someone to talk to; Mom drops by, on her way to a yoga class she simply must get to, and encourages Raviva to make the space her own, which is how she comes to throw out Miles's favorite piece of house decoration, a punny street sign that reads slow children at play. The lesson we're learning here is never listen to Mom's advice, no matter how bad your day is going—someone might wind up in jail.

Like Sophia! She's revealing herself as Underemployed's "troubled" character, and not just because she's caught by the CPD stealing a street sign at Raviva's behest. (Is it just me or do these kids ask for a lot of favors?) At the beginning of the episode, she gives Daphne a few details about her very first sexual encounter, but lets her buddy assume it was with a man. She also asks that Daphne keep it a secret. Daphne does not—word gets around as soon as that Bat Signal is lit—and as she's breathing her first breaths of free air, Miles congratulates her, the lovable oaf! It tacks on the shame of losing your virginity at 23 with that of remaining in the closet despite your liberal principles on top of spending a few hours in jail for some goofy sign. Sophia flips out, and you're all, "Dramaaa" and "Who could have worse friends than these, haha," but like five minutes later Daphne apologizes. Lou gets home, presents are opened, Sophia reveals she was gay, and everyone's day turns out to have been awesome. It'd be even better for us, too, if: 1) Money wasn't exchanged when Sophia comes out, and 2) Sophia didn't read to everyone from her diary. Yuck.

But don't let the pointless plot fool you, episode two was kind of a pretty fun time, with a little bit of decent character development and a distinct experimentation with the language of grown-ups and kids. ("Baby mama" becomes "coparent with benefits" by the episode's end. You could write a short and sweet college paper/Thought Catalog entry on that if you're underemployed yourself.) I've racked my brain, and I absolutely can't figure out what quirks keep me watching so far, besides Underemployed's best character, Tatyana the sulky Russian model. Sad news there: she's already been written off, leaving, with no hard feelings, the boyfriend who definitely cheated on her last episode without a shred of guilt. That's a serious dent to this show's sarcasm capabilities, and considering two major plot points—pregnancy and coming out of the closet—are out of the bag, these writers will need something to balance the silliness that definitely lies ahead.

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