It’s cliché, but it’s true: No matter what your relationship status, Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that seems expressly designed to make you feel bad about yourself. As soon as the drugstore aisles begin to fill up with NASCAR-branded chocolate samplers and stuffed animals in unnatural shades of red and pink, well, I for one have that little stomach-flip moment of how best to conquer the Hallmark-sized expectations of the day. Sure, when you’re single there’s the question of how best to avoid the speed-dating event your friends want you to join in on, but couple celebrations, as Up All Night illustrated this week, are no easier. Do you do the cheesy champagne and fancy dinner thing or try the old snuggle up at home with Chinese food and The Terminator?
“Day After Valentine’s Day” presented the old conundrum in terms of two relationships: Chris and Reagans timeworn, steadfast one and Kevin and Ava’s drama-filled, stormy coupledom. Up All Night sometimes suffers when it centers on the fissures in Chris and Reagan’s marriage, and tonight’s episode certainly was a drop-off from the highs of “Preschool Auction,” but the writers still tackled the vagaries of Valentine’s with a degree of wit that made it enjoyable to watch, if not hugely memorable.
On the Valentine’s Day episode of Ava’s show, Reagan gets kiss-attacked by the “besos bandito” and worries that Chris will go crazy with jealousy when he finds out she’s been lip-locking with someone who looks to work full time as an Antonio Banderas impersonator. Of course, Chris watches the episode without much of the bubbling rage that Reagan feared. The whole plotline of a couple worried that their routine has made them passionless and boring has been the stuff of sitcoms from the very beginning, and Up All Night doesn’t do anything wildly inventive with it. Reagan decides that she’ll get a tattoo of Chris’ name before chickening out, and Chris decides to climb a highway overpass to tag it with his and Reagan’s names, only to slide helplessly to the bottom of the steep cement wall.
Ava and Kevin, on the other hand, have their first Valentine’s Day argument over Kevin inattentiveness to Ava’s efforts in the kitchen. “I bought a bowl,” she says to Kevin at one point, looking at him as if she just told him that she had handmade a tray of miniature soufflé tarts. Kevin, distracted by work woes, fails to praise Ava’s chili effusively enough, which leads to a quarrel so heated that both of them storm into Chris and Reagan’s house and Reagan has to enact her “no food fights in other people’s houses” rule.
What follows doesn’t stray too far from the formula you’d expect. Ava and Kevin admire Chris and Reagan’s stability, while Chris and Reagan envy feeling sparks strong enough they’d cause one of them to throw a show on the roof to make a point. It all culminates happily enough with a pair of nicely done moments. Reagan and Chris impulsively make out in the rain outside of an ATM, and Ava shows up at Kevin’s work in a rain bonnet with a pile of coffee filters. Cute, but not particularly spectacular.
Still, “Day After Valentine’s Day” had some great moments of physical comedy. Between Chris’ hilariously failed attempt to fasten himself to a tree while wielding a spray-paint can and the scene where he reassures Reagan that the passion remains in their relationship with flossing and wearing a sleep shirt with no undershorts, Will Arnett snuck in a dozen moments where I couldn’t stop giggling. The scene where Ava and her cheesy ex visit a new club, flopping on a waterbed (full of vodka, apparently) and spilling a bucket of ice all over was also a wonderful reminder of how funny it can be when Maya Rudolph flails. When the writers give Up All Night’s cast something to work with, they do it with gusto. Let’s just hope for a little bit more on that end next week.
- Was Ava’s pronunciation of jalapeño a Trailer Park Boys reference? Please yes.
- I loved how amazingly bad the club Ava and Julian went to was. It seemed designed by Parks And Recreations’s Jean Ralphio
- “It’s one of those movies where my husband is gay and I pretend not to notice.”
- “Everyone hates flan!”