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Illustration for article titled iPeople Of Earth/i finds awkward humor in denial in its best episode yet
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The second episode of People Of Earth ended with a pair of shocking revelations. The first being that Gina, despite her warm exterior and “empathy” bumper sticker, is apparently the type of person would run over someone and leave the scene, and the second being that the person she ran over was actually Kurt, the reptilian. The third episode opens with a panicked Gina calling the police to inquire if they knew anything about the incident. When H. Jon Benjamin’s cop character tells her it was just a raccoon, she’s breathes a heavy sigh of relief, and immediately drops the fake English accent she had been using (somehow, the cop fails to notice this). But since it was very clearly a human (or at least human-shaped) body that was found at the scene, we’re left to wonder why he would lie about something like this. This leads us to the show’s latest twist: the cop is in on the alien plot!


This is good news for one simple reason: everything is better when H. Jon Benjamin is involved. One would imagine that we’ll be seeing more of him as the show goes along, and that’s pretty much a guaranteed source of joy. That being said, we don’t see Benjamin for the rest of this episode, as the main focuses on Ozzie befriending Richard, whose life is pretty sad even by the low standards of StarCrossed members.

In the first two episodes, we don’t see much of Richard, and all we learn about him is that he believes he has a major job in the tech world, when really, all his company does is make those things that go on the end of internet cables. But while that might have appeared to be a one-off joke, it actually revealed the most important aspect of Richard’s personality: his tendency toward denial. That makes up the bulk of this episode, as Ozzie has to help Richard accept the fact that his wife is divorcing him.

After walking out a little less than a year earlier, Richard is entirely convinced that she was abducted by “the reptilians.” Somehow, even though we know these creatures actually do exist in the People Of Earth universe, he still comes off like a crackpot when he talks about them. While Gina discourages Ozzie from getting involved in the situation (she always seems to do this, and you can’t help wondering why), he sees a man in pain and decides to get him through it. Just when we believe Richard has finally accepted the truth, we find out that he actually wrote “suck reptilian dicks!” rather than signing his divorce papers.

This one moment reveals what People Of Earth is able to do so well: find humor in the uncomfortable. We know Richard is a sad person, struggling through a difficult time, and yet, we can’t help but find some odd comedy in his misery. This show understands that our darkest moments sometime contain an awkward kernel of humor, and it forces the viewer to confront that. Somehow, we can have the same empathy for Richard that Ozzie does, while also acknowledging that the phrase “suck reptilian dicks,” irrespective of what emotional trauma it came from, is just undeniably hilarious.


While it’s clear that Richard is in a lot of denial about the dissolution of his marriage, the show also gives us the possibility that he might be right about some aspects of it. We learn that his ex-wife Debbie is a former StarCrossed member, and while it first seems as though she thinks the group is wholly delusional, we later learn that she might have actually been abducted by aliens, and simply has no interest in seeking the answers that the group is looking for. When Richard signs his papers, and briefly appears to move on, he comes up with the new theory that Debbie is actually a reptilian herself. It seems crazy, and the group is exasperated because they thought he was finally over it, but there’s the tiniest shred of possibility that he may be onto something.

Meanwhile, Gerry and Yvonne team up to investigate the supposed raccoon that Gina ran over. The funniest bit here comes when Gerry reveals that he had to lie down in a lot of different positions to discover that the newly paved bit of road takes the shape of a body on the ground. Eventually, they discover that the creature Gina ran over must have been a reptilian. Whether they confront her with this remains to be seen, but it’s not Gina’s only problem. When Jeff and Don vow revenge against whoever killed their friend, they see Gina’s “empathy” bumper sticker, and now have a key clue. It’s becoming clear that Gina will be getting her comeuppance quite soon.


While those developments of intriguing, the meat of this episode came from Ozzie and Richard’s arc. The show uses just the right mixture of sadness and comedy to allow us to feel Richard’s pain, while also having a few laughs at his expense. By finding that awkward humor in grief and denial, People Of Earth has given us its strongest episode yet. After brilliantly handling Richard, it will be fascinating to see what the show does to flesh out the rest of its incredibly deep cast.

Stray Observations

-Upon hearing of Kurt’s death, Jeff and Don have radically different grieving processes. Don is initially crushed by the news, but gets over it surprisingly quickly. Jeff displays no emotion whatsoever at first, but ultimately breaks down at their funeral for Kurt. The dynamic between the varying alien personality types will be another enjoyable thing to watch.


“Is that a shooting star?” “I want a divorce.”

-Am I the only who thinks Don sort of likes like a male Daenerys Targeryen?

-A Google Maps search revealed that there is no Hawthorne Road in the town of Beacon, but there is a Hawthorne Court in nearby Fishkill, and the episode does mention that Debbie’s alleged abduction took place at a park in Fishkill.


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