Part of Delocated’s appeal is the semblance of realism that grounds its more absurd moments. Its New York is real and recognizable in a way the New York of Sex and the City or Friends never was. The Mirminsky and Wang Cho crime families might be stereotypes, but they’re almost always portrayed in serious and believable lights. Even the show’s two most ridiculous (and, not coincidentally, most central) characters, “Jon” and Yvgeny, are barely disguised cartoon versions of the show’s creator Jon Glaser and comedian Eugene Mirmen. In a way Delocated is no less real than the type of bottom-feeder reality programming that it parodies.
Delocated doesn’t even bother to fictionalize Todd Barry. For a while it felt like Todd Barry appeared in every TV show I watched, playing himself in three of them (Flight of the Conchords, Louie and Delocated). He’s like Rodney Dangerfield – he can import his established stand-up persona into almost anything and make it work.
Delocated has been the deadpan comedian’s most enduring role, though. He plays a (possibly 100% faithful) version of himself as a guy who loves playing cards with Russian mobsters and paying for sex with Russian whores. He loves one particular Russian whore named Svetlana so much that he wants to marry her, setting up the better of this episode’s two storylines.
Barry absolutely kills the scene where he asks Yvgeny for permission to marry Svetlana, going into detail about why he hates kids while proposing on bended knee. The material is a perfect fit for Barry’s super dry delivery and smug asshole persona. Of course your response might vary, depending on if you think the word “whore” is inherently funny and not degrading or offensive.
Barry’s marriage has unforeseen consequences, though, as he’s also apparently a Wang Cho prostitute’s most loyal customer. Ying-Tai (Han Tang) loses her mind over Barry marrying another whore, crashing the wedding and taking Barry hostage at gunpoint. Svetlana thinks Barry’s left her at the altar, but Sergei (Steve Cirbus), who regrets not marrying Svetlana himself, tracks Barry back to the Wang Cho’s brothel. He saves Barry but at a steep price – Todd can no longer marry Svetlana.
The Mirminskys and Wang Chos are always treated seriously in Delocated, and Barry’s subplot is no different. It’s completely ridiculous, but every step of the way it’s presented as a serious and highly romantic storyline, with Yvgeny’s girlfriend Trish (Amy Schumer) sighing like she just heard the most tender declaration of love ever when Barry says he “wasn’t just paying for sex and blowjobs, but sex, blowjobs… and love.” Barry fills the Jon role as the cad around which everything revolves, but he’s a far smarter and more self-aware brand of asshole. It brings a different tone to the show.
The other story sees Jon and his bodyguard TB (Ali Farahnakian) taking Jon’s son David (Jacob Kogan) on a rite of passage. They abandon him in the woods with a few basic necessities and camp out until his return. Almost immediately Jon severely injures his leg, forcing TB and one of the two cameramen to hike back to the nearest ranger’s station. This is one of the rare moments where a character directly refers to the unseen reality show camera crew. It reminded me of the best episode of last year’s Jon Benjamin Has A Van, the amazing episode where there’s no sound for ten minutes because the show-within-the-show’s sound guy had been kidnapped.
While Jon is waiting for TB to return with help, he’s kidnapped by an old militia couple who decide to use Jon’s celebrity to publicize their cause. When TB comes upon their shack they think the government is invading and take suicide pills, forcing one down Jon’s throat. That leads to one hell of a surprise punchline that redeems what is otherwise not that funny or memorable of a plot.
Barry’s arc really makes this episode. Sure, it’s totally disconnected from Jon’s story, with not even a slight thematic connection. It makes the episode feel a little awkward and disjointed, and slightly damages the pacing. The Barry stuff is some of the most hilarious comedy this show has ever done, though, and that more than makes up for any other issues.