Sutton Foster, Molly Bernard, Hilary Duff (TV Land)

There’s a disappointing sense of inevitability regarding the two major storylines of this episode that lead one to believe that the writers were just going through the motions when plotting the show’s trajectory at this point in the season. Ever since the character of David was introduced on the series, it was only a matter of time before Liza was tempted to repeat past mistakes with a comfortable, familiar partner. Her newfound single status is as good a time as any to explore that particular dead end, so she decides to hook up with David after some clichéd advice from Kelsey to distract herself from one man with another. The scenario is stale, but it does lead to a sequence that shed a little bit of light on Liza’s past and the family life she used to enjoy while she was married.

Tessa’s birthday reunites her parents in more ways than one; Liza would do anything to have Josh back in her life while she has to stay in contact with her ex-husband for the sake of their daughter. Reunions are nice reminders of the memories that exes once shared but they also involve their fair share of pain and awkwardness. The show hints at the complexity of these particular types of relationships but doesn’t delve particularly deep. The joke about Liza waking up to scene right out of a horror movie—David as a sleeping companion—does earn some points, and her preference for Maggie’s companionship earns a few more. Despite Kelsey’s advice, the dalliance doesn’t cure Liza’s heartache over Josh; a visual call-back to a line about reading through his old texts is a surprisingly poignant illustration of this. That or the show just miraculously found the most touching music to accompany an emotionally-loaded scene involving a character scrolling through texts. There better be a music folder somewhere dedicated to that particular niche.

Liza laughs at the fact that she continues to behave the same way in her forties as she did in her twenties if only to keep from crying. At the same time, she’s trying to protect Kelsey from having to learn things the hard way, whether or not any learning actually occurs. The next step after a proposal is an engagement party, and since Thad doesn’t appear to be interested in learning of any kind, there must be some kind of scandal to prevent an actual ceremony from taking place. The revelation that Thad has been cheating is about as expected and simplistic a direction as could have been taken, unfortunately. The cliffhanger of what Kelsey’s reaction will be when she finds out doesn’t create much tension when it’s clear that this is a Band-Aid that should’ve been ripped off a long time ago.

The conflict between Kelsey and Lauren involving the wedding planning is used as a catalyst for comedy as opposed to drama, but that comedy doesn’t work as well as it should have because the drama doesn’t ring true. The friendship between Kelsey and Lauren has been neglected for most of the season; Lauren hasn’t gotten much to work with all season—though her killer dress and falconry skills at the engagement party partly make up for that. It’s difficult to believe that Lauren is so invested in Kelsey’s upcoming nuptials that she’s going this overboard, even if Overboard is probably her middle name. Like all of Kelsey’s friends, Lauren has been concerned about Thad as a choice of life partner; it doesn’t track that such a blunt character and good friend would completely ignore those misgivings, even for the sake of a few parties. Regardless, Lauren better steel herself for disappointment because Kelsey’s wedding is one party that is not going to happen, unless we’re in for a few more surprises before season’s end. At this point, I could really use a few of those.

Advertisement

Stray observations:

  • Get ready for more Darren Starr productions, as he has inked an overall production deal with TV Land. I’m excited to see what he comes up with next.
  • “Don’t tell me what I’m thinking; I’ve changed.” I like sassy Liza.
  • Of all of the great costuming and styling choices on this show, Lauren’s engagement party look is seriously one of my favorites. That colorful feathered strapless dress and butterfly earrings paired with that updo floored me. Paging the Go Fug Yourself gals…

Advertisement