Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What I’m Watching: Casual

Casual: Season 1, Episode 8 “Bottles” (A-)

Usually, Thanksgiving episodes tend to be pretty gimmicky, and are rarely the strongest offerings of a particular show. I’d argue that this episode was actually the best one this show has produced yet, taking a break from its characters’ dating lives and slowing things down for one hell of an awkward Thanksgiving dinner that was initially supposed to be just four people and ended up being double that. Laura’s response to finding her mother having sex with the teacher she had her eye on was to engage in vicious revenge, inviting Drew’s new girlfriend and Valerie’s mother to Thanksgiving to ensure that it was as miserable as possible. Though Mae-Yi, and Drew, for that matter, should have known better than to accept the invitation, it was Dawn bringing her boyfriend, who just happens to be Valerie and Alex’s father, that really made things awful. Fred Melamed was inspired casting, and the excitement with which Charles and Dawn told horrific excerpts from Alex’s childhood was truly appalling. It was nice that Emmy was there for Alex, but the fact that she’s otherwise connected and nearly as unstable as any of his parents’ relationships growing up makes her presence all the troubling rather than comforting. Before things got bad, Dawn casually spilling Alex’s macaroni and cheese all over the floor and then replacing it in the oven with something she brought was a strong moment of terrible parenting and something that explains why Valerie and Alex have such a difficult time committing given the environment in which they grew up.

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