“Double Date,” the second episode of web series Anytown, USA, picks up with the Fletcher parents experiencing life on a downswing. A dinner date at a friend’s house reveals that everyone is doing better than the Fletchers… but not for long.
The pilot was a funny episode that overcame my distaste for cannibalism. With enough humor and self-awareness to get me interested, I thought the show was worth another shot. “Double Date” was worth it. As a millennial, there was a lot to relate to in this episode.
The Fletchers are suffering the effects of a poor economy and a lack of luck. Things are so tight that the Fletchers can’t even afford to cast their children! Because of this, the episode allows a closer look at Ryan and Molly, giving them further characterization than was possible in the pilot.
Ryan is featured most prominently in the pilot, but it was a shallow perspective on the character. “Double Date” makes Ryan more personable. In the pilot, Ryan brags about his family and his perfect life (though the pilot does reveal that this is mostly just words). “Double Date” showcases the truth — Ryan and Molly seem to be doing worse than literally everybody else.
Molly showcases this by doing something we all do, even though we shouldn’t — comparing ourselves to our Facebook friends. Scrolling through her feed, she mentions that everyone seems to have won the lottery. Molly appears to be happy for her friends, whereas Ryan is ready to tear his hair out. Molly pushes Ryan to attend a dinner date with her friends Kerry and Bill. When Ryan gripes, Molly mentions that Kerry is like a sister to her. Because he loves his wife, Ryan agrees to be on his best behavior.
Unfortunately, Kerry and Bill have no such compunctions. They are an overblown satire of those people — people who are rich and successful through no effort on their parts. We all know those people, and we can sympathize with Ryan’s desire to bash Bill’s skull in.
Kerry and Ryan brag about their achievements in a way that only incredibly unaware people can: they found a winning lottery ticket on the ground; Bill was able to raise his salary by $100K by laying off half his staff; Kerry and Bill sent their six-week old children to “boarding school;” Kerry has “bought” her real estate license. This last one is a sore spot; Ryan is a real estate agent, and Kerry and Bill seriously demean his actual work and successes.
Molly talks Ryan down from his homicidal rage, but in the end, it’s Molly who can’t take it any longer. Bill torments Ryan with unsolicited and unwelcome advice regarding expensive shampoo, ab workouts, and a golf swing. Ryan puts up with it as best he can, because it will make Molly happy for them to get along. But when Ryan reaches his breaking point, he argues with Bill that it doesn’t matter how much more money and luck Bill has, Ryan has the best wife in the world — who immediately comes out of the kitchen bashing Kerry’s skull in with a hammer.
In the kitchen, Kerry had been condescendingly advising Molly to divorce Ryan and move up the social chain. She calls Ryan a loser, calls their children “half-breed mongrel[s],” and brings up racist stereotypes about Asians. Molly had, all this time, been the cooler head, but cannot stand for Kerry to judge her family. In the end, she kills Kerry and unashamedly smiles at Bill while licking Kerry’s blood off her hands. Harsh.
There were some great parts of this article. Like I said, as a millennial, it’s hard not to identify with people who feel left behind and unlucky, even if they are cannibals. Who among us hasn’t scrolled through Facebook and silently hated all our friends for their successes?
I know it’s not just me. While the “lottery” gimmick was a bit overplayed, it did stand as reasonable satire. 20-somethings all know the pain of seeing their friends succeed and having to smile and pretend we’re happy for them.
The tone-deaf portrayal of Kerry and Bill was also enjoyable. Again, obvious satire. But it was an enjoyable depiction of people we all hate. Kerry is shallow and money-grabbing, but she seems to be fully aware of her luck and has plans to take even more advantage of the system.
Bill, on the other hand, is a real [jerk] but seems to genuinely not understand why Ryan doesn’t like him. He’d almost be sympathetic, except for his massive bank account and huge lack of sympathy for those less fortunate.
I enjoyed seeing more of Ryan and Molly in this episode. The pilot focused so much on the weird Nazi thing that we didn’t get too much characterization. Here we see more. Molly seems to be a fairly nice person; she tries her best to be friends with Bill because she loves Kerry, and she seems genuinely happy for her friends who mysteriously keep winning the lottery. However, push her buttons, and she will literally kill you. She’s fiercely proud and protective of her family — Kerry crossed a line calling the children “mongrel[s].”
Ryan, on the other hand, is fun because I see a lot of myself in him (I promise I don’t kill and eat people. Honest.). He’s such a millennial — no money, jealous of and angry about his friends’ successes, and ultimately grins and bears it because there’s nothing else he can do. He mopes and groans about dealing with Bill but does it because he loves Molly. He goes along and listens to all of Bill’s idiotic advice.
At the end, when he can’t take any more of Bill, he admits that he might not have the fortune Bill does, he has an amazing wife, and that’s what makes him happy. It’s hard not to love a character that gazes lovingly on his blood-spattered wife. Also, Darek Kowal can get. it. (For the record, Jin Park is also very attractive. A+ on the casting, guys).
Naturally, there were some parts of the episode that weren’t so great. While the tone-deaf rich people act is funny, it does go a little past funny and into tiresome. While relating their good fortune, Bill and Kerry start punctuating their successes with a middle finger (or two, or four).
Watching Bill walk by Ryan and Molly in the hallway with a raised middle finger was just not funny. Flipping the bird constantly took this from a hilarious, biting commentary on wealth inequality in our country into gag-humor. So close, but no cigar.
Also, the racist aspect of the episode was a little jarring. Racism was obviously a major part of the pilot, since the main gag was a Nazi. In “Double Date,” it’s more subtle — until it’s not. Kerry making comments about how Asian people seem to age backward could have been funny if it had been more addressed, but the scene steamrolls past this. Calling the children “half-breed mongrel[s]” was a little much, too.
It took Kerry from a believable money-grubbing, two-faced bitch to just plain ridiculous (AN: I know that there are genuinely people who would say that, but the comment seems more at home with obvious Nazi than upper-class housewife — but I suppose that’s the point, racism is insidious and we should pay more attention).
I liked this episode a lot better than the pilot (though admittedly a good portion of that is the lack of overt cannibalism). The pilot had to do a lot of work establishing the story, but “Double Date” allowed more of the story to happen naturally.
I’m looking forward to the next episode, “The Selfie” (gotta admit, I’m a huge selfie fan so I imagine this story will also resonate with me).