Five episodes into NBC’s new Matthew Perry vehicle, and there’s still this sort of something that’s off about Go On. It’s almost as if the show knows exactly how to construct these storylines of mourning but never feeling gutsy enough to veer far into the depths of them. They stretch out to the fringes, but they’re always scared to dive into the deep end. In some ways, that’s probably the better (and safer) way to go for a primetime comedy that’s trying to stay as mainstream as possible, but in another way…gosh, don’t you just want to see them explore it further? At this point, I relatively like all the characters and I just want to know more about them.
This episode, however, was the first in which I felt that the show was beginning to actually utilize its supporting cast. I won’t deny it when I say that Ryan is my favorite character on the show, but how much that has to do with the show’s fixation on him is out of my realm of deduction. I think there’s some gold to be struck with the support group, and I love that they banded together in this episode (as you know I do love). In this episode, the group finds out that Lauren actually works as a valet at some fancy hotel. Of course it could come off as the entire group being extreme douchebags for talking down to her about her work. And I’m sure many people thought of it that way, but at the same time, we sort of know just how unqualified Lauren actually is.
That said, she does always have her heart in the right place but her only qualification, that she’s spoken of before, is that she has spoken publicly about her success with Weight Watchers. That’s all great and dandy, but we don’t exactly know how or why the mental progress of these people has been put in her hands. She’s most definitely a secretive person, more than once always telling the group that she wants them to respect her boundaries, and that she doesn’t like when her personal life comes into the circle. Part of that has to do with not getting too close with those you help, otherwise they won’t see you as a person in authority (as was the case in this episode) and the other half could be that perhaps she can’t cope with her own issues, either. I guess we’ll soon find out…if ever.
Getting to the point: I chose to see their…ahem, attitude…with her being a valet as (A) being weirded out that a person they put so much trust in doesn’t exactly have their life together, which is a dissonant image and (B) being disturbed that this person is supposed to be qualified and perhaps is not.
This episode continued with the three storyline structure, but as aforementioned, I’m glad that the support group got a little more to do this time around. It seems like most members haven’t even said a word since the pilot. Owen’s maybe had a line and a half this entire series. I was also fond of Ryan and Steven’s “bros before hos” epic, but only because it was a great resolution to Ryan seeing his dead wife’s “ghost.”
What could have been an extremely hokey storyline actually worked quite well, I thought, mostly because the actress who played Janie had good chemistry with Matthew Perry — their banter, it just seemed like they knew each other since forever. Of course, going into whether or not she actually transcended the laws of physics and is an actual ghost goes beyond the realm of possibilities here, so I think it’s safe to say it was just a hallucination. That said, it was one that truly did play off nicely. I love the idea of Ryan not wanting to take care of himself because it means accepting that there’s no one else to do that for him, and it’s a shame that it may just be used during this one episode instead of an overarching theme. As I mentioned, the show can really go for the dark comedy here, but mostly stays within the limits of mainstream. (By the way, I know that taking care of himself stuff is a bit stereotypical, but it’s also sort of just…honest.) Also, did you catch that Ryan woke up at exactly 1:23AM? And that he was driving his Porsche? The show is now around long enough to have running gags like that. I loved that little 1:23AM touch. LOVED.
All in all, I think this episode meant more than people might be giving it credit for. I know, I know, this show sometimes feels way too sitcom-y to make any impact, but I have to admit that I fall for that heartwarmth time and time again. And with that, until next week!
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