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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Go On: “Gooooaaaallll Doll!”

Illustration for article titled Go On: “Gooooaaaallll Doll!”
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Maybe it’s because I’ve been worn down by Matthew Perry’s oily charm, but I had a lot of fun watching this week’s Go On, even though I call shenanigans on some of the plot developments. I am still pretty certain that I am not supposed to be thinking hard about anything while watching this show, but I can’t help it, I have questions. But I found it intriguing that exactly one week after I promised to check my brain at the door while sitting down to watch Go On, it introduced one of the first plotlines that will need to be developed long-term—the odd development that Carrie has a crush on Ryan. I’m a little confused about how to proceed. On one hand, I don’t hate the idea of a story guiding the rest of the season, but on the other, the pairing between Carrie and Ryan seems not just unlikely but also pathological that I think I may be morally opposed.

Still, as far as story goes, it all worked, sort of. Ryan misses doing girly things, so he hangs out and watches Real Housewives shows with his assistant Carrie (who seems cool with hanging out with her much older male boss, even though, I don’t know, isn’t there a potential sexual harassment case in there?). Then he thinks about dating, and Carrie’s hot friend visits, so they go on a date. There’s a bit of a back-and-forth between the two women, and Ryan gets a little bit of kissing in there, but ultimately the hot girl goes to wherever hot girls go, and Ryan and Carrie realize they might have feelings for each other. Ryan and Carrie are funny together, and Ryan’s turn as charming if awkward date suits him well. If you don’t examine anything too closely, it’s all a fun adventure—if you do, Ryan’s character is still upsettingly ill-defined, and the dynamic he’s built up with Carrie does not feel particularly romantic or sexy. It could work, but I feel like the show would have to address how badly Ryan’s treated Carrie in the past, and also the fact that she’s his secretary. To be honest, my guess is that this is a red herring leading up to what should be a final romantic endgame with Lauren, because that’s what was established in the first episode. But Go On never does what I tell it to do, so who knows what could happen.

Besides the questionable romantic choices of its lead, though, the rest of the episode is in fact fantastic. Maybe I’m reading too much into this here, but I found this to be a very self-aware episode of Go On, one that was as observant of its own foibles as it indulged in them. Yolanda starts the thing spinning by bringing “goal dolls” to the group, an apparently Japanese totem that helps one accomplish a goal if you draw one eye on it and pray. Much to Lauren’s chagrin, the dolls work really well. Danny finally stands up to Hector. Yolanda assumes a new, fun identity for her new job. Ryan gets a date. The dolls are stand-ins for counseling, or even plot—not exactly macguffins, but certainly useful but meaningless objects that drive everything forward. And as the dolls predictably become at first very significant and then entirely insignificant, Lauren brings everything together in an inevitable emotional resolution—which is deconstructed, in real-time, by Anne and Danny, who are sitting in the corner. I could do away with almost the rest of this season, in exchange for this one scene. Of course, it’s a scene where Julie White is being wonderful and Seth Morris gets his allotted lines per episode. The dynamic of the characters is by now well-known enough that the commentary feels earned, not smug, and to their credit both Anne and Danny seem truly amazed by how Lauren is going to resolve everyone’s issues and tie all the major themes of the episode together. Of course it’s all a little slick, but Anne and Danny remind us how fun it is, too, and how ultimately the narrative is perhaps all that could really get us out of something as terrible as grieving a loved one.

Of course, this being Go On, I’m not sure if any of the meaning I’m reading into this was entirely intentional, but you know what, I don’t care!

I think this last group scene speaks to the show that Go On is moving towards—a jokey, comfortable group dynamic that doesn’t take much of anything too seriously. I still chafe a little at being told how to feel about certain plot developments, but I already see that becoming less important as the show learns to hit its stride. What might end up gutting Go On in the long run is the absolute glut of characters. The show substitutes character quality for quantity, and hopes you won’t notice how flat its regulars are when it drops in sports stars as awkward guest stars. (Did you know that NBC broadcasts the Olympics? And also some other sports? Did you know about sports? Did you?!) I think the show got wind of this because a few of our regulars have been casually dropped—Owen doesn’t even have a line in this episode, Steven has exactly two, and Blind George has flown the coop. If the show is planning to whittle down its regulars, it would be great to give those who remain a little more backstory. I liked Yolanda’s foray into being a “party girl” this week—apparently she and Sonia are a great comedy duo, and now that they’re working together, maybe we’ll see more of that. Of course, I haven’t seen any of the week-to-week plots carry over into another episode (what happened to Danny’s crush on Sonia?) but, you know, here’s hoping!

Stray observations:

  • Never has a meditation gong been used so aggressively before.
  • I briefly thought that Ryan’s pretty paramour was Archie Panjabi, of The Good Wife fame, and I was rather disappointed when that was not the case.
  • “Three sugar cubes. Like the number of men I’ve been with.” “… Today.”
  • Special guest Shaun White is…. special guest Shaun White! There's not much more to say there.