This week's episode of Up All Night was slightly less memorable than weeks past, but nonetheless hilarious. I definitely found myself laughing out loud in my room, always a great sign for a comedy and a dubious sign for my sanity. There were some issues this week, but ultimately "New Car" was a strong episode nevertheless.
As usual, the episode began with hilarious reminders of the awesomeness of Chris and Reagan as a couple, their occasional incompetence, and the general silliness of the show as a whole. As the two struggle to fit the many essentials required for a beach trip into Reagan's stylish, but tiny convertible, Chris comes to the conclusion that Reagan needs a new car, one more appropriate to her new status as a mother. This is a recurring theme on the show: the ways that parenthood forces one to behave entirely differently than one's former self, and I, as usual, enjoyed the ways the show emphasized the real shock involved with becoming a parent, and the real changes required. That the show did this by having Reagan drunkenly buy the van from The A-Team online was particularly hilarious. Reagan struggles with letting go of her beloved convertible, and with letting go of the various personas she felt she took on as she drove it around. This plot references another theme, that of the loss of possibility associated with parenthood, and again the show showcased it well, especially with the list of people Reagan's driving companions might assume she is while stopped next to her at a light. Reagan and Chris shopping for a new car was slightly less exciting, but I felt Chris's awesome compromise at the end of the episode, emblazoning the mom car with the colors of The A-Team, was particularly adorable, and proved that Chris may possibly be the greatest husband in the world.
That is where the show's strength lies. The relationship of Chris and Reagan is so rock solid, and the chemistry between Will Arnett and Christina Applegate so strong, that it carries the show even when the material is slightly weaker. After just four episodes, I feel I know Chris and Reagan, and I want to spend more time with them. Easily the best scene of this episode, and a strong indicator of the show's real advantage as a slice-of-life comedy, found Chris and Reagan just getting drunk on wine and talking about awesome cars from the '80s (including the DeLorean from Back to the Future, which was awesome because it's skid marks were fire). Up All Night is at its best when it is a perfectly observed sitcom about a couple who belong together and deeply love each other trying their best to leave their youth behind and adjust to the challenges of parenthood.
The other plot of the episode centered on Ava, and her intellectual inferiority complex. In response to a magazine ranking her fairly low among celebrity high school dropouts, Ava starts a short-lived campaign to prove her intelligence and to highlight the "gravitas" or her show. Her plan is to read a book about the breakdown of the American economy, and then interview the author, thereby establishing herself as well-informed and well-read. However, she procrastinates, which forces Chris to spend an all-nighter tutoring her, and then realizes mid-show (though she succeeds at appearing informed) that this kind of intellectualism is a little dry, and instead employs her signature gift for sympathizing to unearth the pitiable past of her guest author in a brilliant and hilarious move. This storyline was definitely amusing, and I think Ava is a great character, but I do wish it felt more like the show was integrated as a whole. As it stands, it feels like Up All Night is two different shows: one of them is an excellent, hilarious, and well-observed look at two new parents, and the other is an uneven, mildly amusing 30 Rock-lite that gets by on the unassailable comedic talents of Maya Rudolph.
Overall, I felt the episode was pretty funny, and I definitely enjoyed myself throughout. The show is definitely employing some well-worn themes associated with parenthood (and insecurity), but approaching them with a particularly amusing and modern perspective, which I appreciate. Ava felt a little separate from the main show again, so I'd like to see some better incorporation of her and her plotlines, but Maya Rudolph is amazing so it was mostly ok. I definitely had a good time throughout. I just hope that Up All Night recognizes what it does best and starts to play to its strengths, rather than cleaving itself into two separate shows, leaving both halves to suffer from a lack of screen time and development.
-I really hope no one in real life is as insecure as Ava. Because that would be a very difficult existence. Her best moment of the night had to be when she walked in and complimented Amy on the slimming effect of her jumper. Let Maya Rudolph be absurdly incompetent at dealing with a child. That is humorous enough, and we can drop the whole Ava side of the show that dragged tonight down.
-Reagan and Chris are so good together. Everything about their personalities is compatible. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite tv couples.
-I laughed out loud so hard at Reagan at the end, chatting up her car neighbor. But don't we all vaguely hope that the people glancing over at us assume we're some kind of interesting and cool?
-Chris and Reagan trying to install the car seat was a particularly hilarious few seconds. They are so incompetent and entertaining.