19
Oct
2010
Running Wilde: Season 1, Episode 5
The Party
Jordan
In he early going of a show, it i not too uncommon for the network to air episodes out of order in an attempt to put the show's best foot forward first. Fox is the most notorious example of this, having aired shows like Firefly so out of order that characters appear only to be introduced three episodes later. "The Party" was pretty clearly intended to be the second episode of Running Wilde, and in many ways it plays like one. It spends much of its run time re-establishing the character patterns set up by the pilot and settling us into the ways these characters will behave. It has may callbacks to jokes from the pilot, and it puts us in a place where Steve's attempts to win Emmy over romantically were more overt than they have been since the pilot. As much as it frustrates me to watch episodes out of order like this, I can also sort of see where Fox is coming from on this one. "The Party" is not a particularly funny episode of Running Wilde and certainly doesn't put the show's best foot forward.

The day after Emmy and Puddle officially move in to Steve's house, he decides to throw a party, which Emmy of course sees as extravagant, and which Fa'ad sets out to top. In an attempt to win Emmy over, Steve allows her to help him pare down his party, which of course makes it insanely lame. Meanwhile, Fa'ad steals Steve's every idea in an attempt to top him. I see what the episode was going for, and it does establish the dynamics between all of the characters pretty nicely. Steve will fall all over himself to impress Emmy, Fa'ad is not a particularly loyal friend and is always committed to besting Steve, and Migo wants to protect Steve even as he steals from him. And then there's Puddle, always pushing Steve and Emmy together to further her own agenda, and always narrating in annoyingly obvious ways.

The episode also has some inspired running gags, most specifically Fa'ad continuously being attacked by his pet falcon, and constantly showing up with new scratches on his face. This is the type of joke that Mitch Hurwitz does very well, and its very well done here. The biggest problem with "The Party" is its characterization of Emmy. In my ideal version of Running Wilde, Steve is a boorish, extravagant, ignorant conservative, and Emmy is an unrealistically idealistic, foolishly sacrificial, self-righteous liberal. The constant tension and pull between the two, if done well, would allow Hurwitz to tell a screwball romantic comedy while simultaneously mocking the stereotypes about people on both sides of the political spectrum. Here, Emmy comes off as too unattractive and patently unfun to believe Steve's unerring love for her. I get that she's uptight and never compromises on her insanely rigorous principles, but to make her as out of touch as Steve (as she seems thinking that twizzlers and a seven hour slide show are going to provide a good party to the rich and entitled) defeats the purpose of her character and compromises her comedic potential. Steve is out of touch and ignorant of how the world really works; Emmy, on the other hand, fails to see the forest for the trees. I see that the show wants to make part of her character that she does not get high society, but I think this is a bridge too far for a workable premise. Emmy was raised in the shadow of Steve's opulence, and she would likely know exactly what that entails. Stick with Steve as the ignorant one and make Emmy uncompromising and idealistic to a fault. This is a comedic pairing that could work for seasons. Trying to mess with a potential goldmine like that will doubtlessly lead the show to disaster.

Grade: C+

Notes:

-The theme song is pretty awful. They should really go back to just the title screen and move on.

-"Don't worry, I recycled. And the metal cube I turned it into is now...a coffee table."

-"Steve, she can't have a car. She's 12." "Boo!" "Hey, don't complain. It got you into the waffle trolley."

-"The unneces-soiree has become the most meaningful meaningless party of the year."

-"So if Fa'ad finds out that I'm throwing an unnecessary party he will swoop in on my guest list like..." "Like one of my falcons? Ha-ha!...Does anyone have a dead mouse on them by chance?"

-"Steve, you said you'd be less extravagant. And then you go buy these giant tents?" "Oh I didn't buy them. They come free with Whitney Houston."

-"We'll find a discount store." "If they even have them!"

-"Does it seem like were unusually tired today?" "It has come up a lot..."

-"Why are we so tired?" "I don't know. Maybe it was your trip to the store." "Yeah, and all your recent hawk attacks."

-"I could still hire a band. Or Whitney Houston. That won't be excessive! She won't deliver!"

-"Honestly, I think you're my only friend whose close enough to stick around...oh, you're a balloon!"
Tags: Running Wilde
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