Last week on Grandfathered, Jimmy Kramer Vs. Kramer-ed through Los Angeles with his feverish granddaughter clutched in his arms, desperate to get her to a hospital. This week on Grandfathered, Jimmy uses that experience in an attempt to get laid.
Sound sleazy? It is. It’s also an incredibly efficient way of confirming that the spray-tanned protagonist has not simply become a devoted family man overnight. We’re not following the parental equivalent of sea monkeys here—just add water, instant Dad—but instead looking at a guy who has carefully engineered his life to be a certain, decidedly kid-free way. Any changes that actually stick aren’t going to come easy, and they’re going to take a lot of work.
That’s an idea that runs throughout “Dad Face,” Grandfathered’s solid second episode, and not just where Jimmy is concerned. He and Sara both find themselves confronted by their own prejudices and misconceptions about the young people they suddenly find in their lives. By the end of the episode, they’ve both had their noses smacked with a newspaper, and it’s surprisingly satisfying. The problem with kids these days, the episode seems to say, is that everyone assumes there’s a problem with kids these days.
Jimmy’s cold jolt of reality comes courtesy of Gerald, who isn’t quite the rube that he seems. The former spends most of the episode cringing at (and away from) his son, a neat reversal on the “aw, jeez, Dad!” embarrassment one expects in a parent-kid pairing. On Grandfathered, it’s Jimmy who needs to be told that no, El Niño isn’t a rapper, who slinks down in his seat to avoid being seen with his family, and who refuses to wear sensible clothes because they don’t look cool. It’s Jimmy who, in an act of staggering condescension and selfishness, drags Gerald away from his daughter so he can see how the cool people live. And it’s Jimmy who gets put in his place. The hat keeps his neck from getting burned when he’s helping his daughter build sandcastles, you patronizing ass. Mic drop.
Sara’s comeuppance isn’t quite as righteous as Jimmy’s, mostly because we still don’t know all that much about Vanessa, but it’s still a lot of fun. Paget Brewster gets the bulk of this episode’s punchlines—though maybe it just seemed that way because she’s, you know, great—but at first, most of them seemed to spring from the same, tired place. Selfies are stupid. Vine is stupid. Drum circles are stupid. This girl is stupid. Funny jokes, most of them, and relatable (no drum circles, please), but not good jokes. It all felt a little expected.
But consider my nose smacked, too, because that was the point. Zing! Sara’s judgmental jokes were meant to feel judgmental, because they were. It’s part of what made Vanessa’s big moment so satisfying: one minute, she’s just another vapid girl who can’t stop making duck-faces at her phone, and the next she’s flipping a knife out of her purse, puncturing drumheads and going full mama bear on the jerks who threw something at her kid. Just like that, Sara’s assumptions (and mine) get tossed in the ocean, floating out to sea alongside the bongos. Shyamalan, indeed.
On the heels of the selfie girls debacle, this development proved a particularly nice surprise. It‘s easy to groan about YouTube stars and the fact that you can make a shit ton of money shooting makeup tutorials and back-to-school hacks, but Vanessa is right: it would be a great way for a single mom to make money and take care of her kid at the same time. Even if that weren’t the case, it’s a lousy thing on which to write someone off. There are plenty of things one might expect of Grandfathered: I for one, expected lots of Stamos charm and probably some sort of Oikos tie-in. But I didn’t expect it to get a little sneakily feminist.
So yes, Jimmy leaves the white party to head back to family day, and that’s pretty predictable. Still, happy ending aside, Grandfathered caught me off guard in a totally charming way for the second week in a row. Maybe I should check my preconceptions, too.
- Man, Stamos really Kerri Strugs the end of this episode. The mix of terror and pride on his face when he displays those wipes was a thing of beauty, and his awkward stumbling hot sand run was damn near perfect, too.
- I’m paraphrasing, but “I just thought it would be extra fun if we could make sure I’m not your father” got a full-fledged snort out of me.
- I’ve spent the last three weeks looking for Tom Cruise references on Minority Report, so the bit about Cocktail and horniness was weirdly disorienting.
- Bonus points for whoever had Stamos prop up his feet on those tiny kid beach chairs and rinse off his feet with sparkling water.
- Not too much from Kelly Jenrette and Ravi Patel this episode, but whenever they get a joke, they nail it.
- No Diddy, no Kate Upton, and no repeat Bob Saget. Apparently the cameo budget got blown last week.
- Man, this episode really grew on me. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Not an experience I often have with sitcoms.
- “I’m 25 and a half!” “No one uses a fraction.”