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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

"Open House"

Illustration for article titled Open House
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I have so many observations and comments on tonight's episode that it's really challenging not to burst out with them right now instead of waiting to talk about them in chronological order. Oh, what the hell.  Tara and Charmaine's mom Beverly is such a massive bitch that it's verging on unbelievable: however, the evidence of her crappy parenting lies in her daughters' tenuous mental health.  And Alice vs. Beverly is a great matchup. And Neil is such a great guy it's not hard to see why Charmaine does love him: but props to the show for not making Nick a shallow one-note bad guy in comparison to Neil. And what an ending for the episode! I hope the next episode starts with Max punching Buck in the glasses. And I can't believe it took me until tonight's "Previously on The United States of Tara" to notice that the little girl in Tara's flashback is wearing a poncho like Gimme.

Phew!  Obviously it was a power-packed episode.  We began, unusually, with a flashback, as sleeping Tara dreams of herself and Charmaine as little girls riding their bikes in the bicentennial (there it is again) parade.  They greet a woman name Mimi who encourages them to keep riding, have fun, and DON'T SAY ANYTHING TO ANYONE.  Hmm, OK.

Tara wakes up, alone, as Max is on the couch following his confession that he hooked up with Pammy.  When Marshall walks through the living room Max explains that the couch is "better for my back," which Marshall retorts is "a completely believable situation."  Tara and Max are still squabbly, as she tells him "I'm not the one who slept with somebody else," and Max says, "Not this week." He would like to call off the open house next door at the Hubbard place but Tara insists they follow through, hoping to get a new set of neighbors, strangers who will somehow make their lives more normal by staying out of their business.

Tara goes and chats with Charmaine who advises Tara to cut Max some slack and wants to know why she and Nick can't just move into the Hubbard house.  Tara confesses to Charmaine that she's still obsessed with the house, due to all the flashbacks its been bringing her. Charm advises Tara to call their mother to see if they can find out who the mysterious Mimi is.  Then Tara snaps at Charmaine for using such "ungraceful" terms as "rape" and "molesty" until Charmaine, the Unlikely Voice of Reason, tells Tara to STFU since everything's falling apart on HER.

Zach's doing a little Pygmalion thing on Kate, taking her to play tennis and asking if he can call her "Catherine" instead of "Kate," and she picks up on the creepy Tom Cruise-ness of this request.  He then  offers to buy her sunglasses.  It was at this point that I started getting gay vibes from Zach, that maybe he thinks he can purchase himself the woman with whom he thinks he should be seen. 

Speaking of gay (I love that transition), Lionel takes Marshall out hustling for stranger sex in the park, home to the World War I museum.  Poor Marshall—this is so obviously not his scene but he seems so desperate to find the "YOU ARE HERE" sign on the gay map that he's letting Lionel take him into some skeevy situations.  "It's just sharing parts of your body with a stranger," Lionel tries to comfort Marshall, but of course that doesn't really sound super sexy. Little Marshy meets a guy in a shrub who invites him to "come back here so I can introduce you to my cock," and thankfully neighbor Ted, who's got a little something going on himself, spots Marshall, pretends to be his father and spirits him away from the sketchiness.

The episode had a neat transition at this point, as Lionel's car door opens and then we cut to a pair of lady legs swinging out of a car: it's Tara and Charmaine's mom, come to assist after Charmaine turned the water works on to her over the phone.  I remember Beverly being fairly bitchy last season but not anything compared to how she was tonight, starting off with the way she greeted Charmaine was by accusing her of showing her pregnancy, bigtime, in her face.  They all go into the Hubbard house to chat and while Tara wants to ask her mom who Mimi was, Tara's mom blows her off, except "blows her off," isn't exactly the right term. "Raging bitch" was the term I had in my notes. I guess there are moms out there who are as awful as Tara and Charmaine's—fortunately, I don't know and am not related to any—so it's almost hard for me to believe that they would keep someone as shitty as her in their lives, but again, the proof of her parenting is in the pudding.  Beverly admits that perhaps Mimi was a babysitter but it's too late: after taking her mom's abuse Tara transitions into Alice and sashays away.

Next door Kate and Zach are hanging out in her room when he gives her tickets to the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago and offers to get a room for them at the swanky Peninsula.  I have to give it up to Kate for finding this whole situation a little uncomfortable but instead of understanding where she's coming from, Zach recoils from her adult behavior and in retaliation points out the little girl-ness of her bedroom, which I imagine wouldn't have bothered him so much if she had said yes.  "I'm 27 and I don't know what I was thinking," he says, and hightails it but not before giving Kate a pair of earrings. I wonder what we'll hear next from Zach. I'm not guessing something great.

Needing a break from her mom, Charmaine takes a seat outside when Neil comes by. She spins a great allegorical tale about how when she bought a Leif Garrett album as a kid, it turned out that a Black Sabbath record had been put inside the cover, and even after she got the right record all she could hear was "War Pigs" when she looked at Garrett's happy face: that's how she feels about her mom.  As a sad tangent, Neil hands her an envelope to "cheer her up," the document promising that he'll stay out of "our daughter's" life.  Nothing like venting about one horrible parent only to watch a potentially good one walk away. Neil just requests that if their daughter ever learns the truth about her father, that they just don't say bad things about him. (Wipe away tear).

Of course who needs truth in parenting—during the open house Max lies to potential buyers about how great and successful Kate is.  In walks Alice, looking, dare I say, hot in a funereal outfit.  She informs the buyers that the previous owner had blown his brains out, and once again Alice alludes to some sort of relationship with Don Hubbard. Beverly comes by and we got the showdown of old fashioned cruel bitches, as she asks Max and Charmaine to get Tara/Alice out and Alice accuses Beverly of lying to her kids and keeping things behind closed doors. Intriguingly, after taking a look at Alice Beverly notes that apparently Tara already knows who Mimi Parmeter is.  I loved the end of that scene, as Alice folds her black hankie and says "Well, Max, should we split a cookie?" At least now Tara and Charmaine have a last name for Mimi and if they can't get a stranger to buy the house, there's always Charmaine and Nick.

I think of all the members of the family Marshall gets and has the best delivery of funny deadpan lines. In the car with Ted, Marshall says that thanks to his experience in the park, World War I has been ruined for him.  Marshall worries over not knowing what he is, and Ted asks him if he wouldn't just fall in love instead of trolling for dick, noting that he paved the way as an activist youth so that Marshall could have the luxury of taking his time and having a real relationship. Later on, Marshall has a depressing conversation with Kate as they discuss the lack of examples they know of people who are actually happy and/or in love.  "Everyone's together because they want to take things," Kate muses. "All things. Everyone's a taker. Everything's a thing."  Yeesh, so much world-weariness in these poor kids.  At least they don't have Beverly as their mom.

In happier news though, Tara and Max decide to forgive and forget the Pammy incident. But guess who hasn't forgiven Max? Buck, who, as I predicted, is furious at Max for getting with the woman he loved.  As we learned from last season, Buck can really throw a punch. I hope we learn next week whether or not he can take one.

—I don't know what number I had in my head but I was pretty shocked to hear that during her marriage to Max Tara's alters had slept with over 30 people. That makes me look at Max in a more compassionate (perhaps even "what's wrong with you?") light.

—"You're so pretty but you've always made decisions like an ugly girl."

—"My therapist called it 'shanger.'" Does that mean we'll hear Shoshana using that phrase in an upcoming episode?

—Marshall may wonder why Kate's wearing earrings to bed but I want to know why she's drinking coffee before bed.


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