Like Gene’s journey to the GED test and Billie’s journey toward a fulfilling career, the first season of Idiotsitter has had its ups and downs, but even in its slightly off moments, like when the girls got tied up in conventional, uninteresting conflict over a boy, Idiotsitter has maintained a very clear comedic voice. The premise is a tricky one, assigning clear types for its two main characters to perform. But over time, the writers found exciting ways to let Gene and Billie grow out of their respective types without being too predictable about it. Last week’s “Ex-boyfriend” encompasses those dynamics, and tonight’s season finale does, too. Idiotsitter isn’t really about an idiot and her sitter so much as it’s about two weirdos who share very similar fears—two weirdos who really do need each other. Because Idiotsitter doesn’t get all its fuel from just being weird; it runs on heart, too.
Gene is the more obvious weirdo of the pair, and early on in the season, her over-the-top antics really seemed to be what defined the show. In a recent interview for Vulture (conducted by fellow Groundling alum Jim Rash), Charlotte Newhouse and Jillian Bell acknowledged that some of their writers struggled when it came to ideas for Billie. That shows every now and then on the show, as Gene’s extreme woman-child tendencies can sometimes overpower scenes, but especially as the season moved along, Billie became one of the show’s best surprises. Gene’s schtick is a little familiar for Comedy Central, home to Workaholics, which Bell also stars on. Bell brings enough specifics and eccentricity to the part to make it feel fresh (her off-kilter speech pattern on certain lines can make just about anything funny, like tonight when she simply says “income tax, gross”). And the writers also give Gene enough emotional depth to make her a real character and not just some frat star. But even though she’s more than a cartoon, Gene is still the more familiar and overtly comedic of the two. Idiotsitter needs Billie to be Gene’s foil, but it simply wouldn’t be a compelling show to watch if that’s all she was. So over time, it became clear that Billie is a weirdo, too. Her strangeness is a little more subtle. She’s nerdy and awkward but not in a way that comes off as performative or flat. With Billie, Idiotsitter has something special. And like Bell, Newhouse is great at elevating jokes just through the way she reads the lines. Both are at their best in the finale.
Idiotsitter overall is at its best when Billie and Gene are working together. It’s possible for them to work together even as their differences are on full display. “It’s not going to be bad!” Gene insists to Billie, who is practicing her guest lecture for a trial run at UCLA. There’s that soft, caring side of Gene. She wants Billie to be confident, because she shares her insecurities—they just manifest in different ways. The ensuing stylized montage is peak Idiotsitter. Gene coaches Billie in how to be a cool and tough professor. “Things for Billie,” she writes on a whiteboard: “B Hard. Streets. Pfeiffer.” It’s all terrible advice, of course. It’s advice that plays into Billie and Gene’s water and oil dynamic while still showing them come together. It’s advice that eventually gets Billie kicked out of UCLA (by guest star Jake Johnson, who is funny all the time always, especially as a man-bunned history professor who keeps inexplicably saying “on fleek” and trying way too hard).
Even when Billie and Gene fight, there’s something harmonious about it. Billie and Gene are equally terrible and brilliant in the way they insult each other. In the finale, they have one of their best arguments, which starts with them just calling each other bitches but quickly escalates to Gene name-dropping her “several shark homies” that she can reach out to and Billie calling her a “Shirley Temple-headed bitch” and offering her hoenuts (“donuts for whores”). Both Billie and Gene have quite the way with words, and they way they talk to each other has become a defining characteristic of their relationship.
Throughout the season, the writers have developed Billie and Gene’s relationship. In the finale, they finally seem like real friends, and the show has earned that turning point. They’re not actually fighting with each other, but rather taking out their fears and frustrations on each other, which becomes perfectly clear when they make up by shouting back and forth over a megaphone. “I’m scared to death of moving forward without you helping me.” That’s a painfully honest statement to come from the buffoon character of a comedy. But it’s earned. And naturally, it’s followed up by a few jokes about the movie Center Stage, but those jokes don’t undercut or downplay the emotions of the moment. Gene’s references to Center Stage are as true to the character as the fears she expresses, and it’s important to have both of those sides play into the scene.
Then Billie and Gene steal and crash a cop car together. I knew Idiotsitter had to find a way to continue its cycle. By the end of the finale, Billie and Gene have changed, especially in relation to one another. They confess their love for each other, after all. But with Gene off house arrest and Billie seeking employment elsewhere, the writers had to find a way to keep them bound together. The show must go on (and hopefully it will…looking at you, Comedy Central renewal overlords). And I think it was the right choice to have Billie and Gene get into a new mess together instead of Gene just messing up again. By episode’s end, they’re running away from the cops—together. It feels like something that was always meant to be. Idiotsitter is about two weirdos finding love.
- I know that Billie and Gene were confessing platonic love, but who is to say they are not each other’s soulmates? What I’m saying is that I officially ship them.
- “You bit big old brains, bitch!”
- I, too, live by the life tenet WWMPD: What Would Michelle Pfeiffer Do?
- “Do I resemble Bernie Mac?”
- Gene and Billie playing basketball terribly while having an earnest conversation about their futures is such a perfect snapshot of everything this show is.
- New Chet a.k.a. Cheteran
- As far as I know, the show has not been renewed for a second season, but I hope Comedy Central sees as much potential in it as I did.