As I go into a new year of watching Dads and TV sitcoms in general, I can’t help but wonder and be annoyed with the mismatched pairing of “hot stable female” with “annoying average-looking male.” I realize that Dads is a show that tries to appeal to a male audience (they should keep their standards low and hope for an audience), so they keep their humor fratty and their chicks looking like sorority girls. But it doesn’t have to be as escapist as pornography (another medium with a great discrepancy between the looks of men and women). It’s a sitcom, and it should reflect some small part of our reality.
In “Bully Gene,” Eli dates single-mother Elsa (Jamie-Lynn Sigler). Rather than distance himself because she has a son, Eli hopes to connect with the boy because he was also raised by a single-mom. It was nice to see the show return to its theme (fatherhood), and it was sweet to see Eli attempt to heal in a child what he himself suffered. Alas, to his surprise, Elsa’s son Gene turns out to be a big bad bully, even bullying Eli. When, out of concern, Eli brings up her son’s issues, Elsa defends her son and dumps Eli. But even after the break-up, Gene continues to bully Eli, and even steals the prototype disc to the game Eli is supposed to present at work this week. Gene refuses to give the CD back, and Elsa sides with her son. Leave it to Edna to save the day. She goes over to Elsa’s apartment and out-bullies the bullies, retrieving the game. The second, funnier, storyline, follows Warner’s Seinfeld-ish discovery that his couch is more comfortable than his bed. In order to sleep on the couch every night, he picks fights with Camilla just so he can get kicked out of bed and sleep on the couch. She catches on, is furious at him, and replaces the couch with a wooden bench.
Week after week, we see Eli date women who are 10s. Even normally dense and offensive David starts to wonder why they date him. After David compliments Elsa’s beauty, he has the introspection to ask Eli, “There’s one thing I can’t figure out: why is she with you?” The show always cuts directly to Eli bringing these women to his apartment. It leaves out the way he meets them, how they even consider giving him their number, and how in the world he convinces them to come up for a nightcap. Now, I must confess, I had a crush on Seth Green when I was a teenager. He’s a cutie in my book. But the character of Eli has never been a smidgen more than annoying to me. I realize it is the sitcom archetype to have a beautiful, not-so-interesting woman with an unappealing, funny man. Television world is full of these situations: Carrie and Doug Heffernan, Peggy and Al Bundy, Marge and Homer Simpson. But to sleep with a different hot chick every week? I’m sorry, Eli, I’m not buying it. You’re not suave, charming or wealthy enough to pull that off. And while this show is shot in Los Angeles where one is more likely to see that scenario, it’s set in San Francisco. (Then again, maybe being in San Francisco, Eli is actually one of the few eligible bachelors interested in women.)
Other than my griping of television’s representation of couples, the episode was quite funny. Here are some lines that hit and some that could use a little more effort.
Jokes that worked:
—Crawford, after justifying his weird yelling outbursts: “Oh, nothing. My doctor says I should make a noise every few minutes to make sure I’m still alive.”
—Warner, discussing his mother’s illness: “She had acute angina.”
Crawford, misunderstanding him, answers: “Yeah, she sure did.”
—Edna, confronting Elsa and Gene about giving back the prototype: “We can do this easy way, or easy oven way.”
—After Elsa tells Eli she has a son, Eli confesses: “I have to tell you, I have a dad.”
Jokes that bombed:
—Eli: “Vin Diesel always looks like he can’t decide what he’s smelling. He’s like, ‘Gasoline, no, it’s cake.’”
—Gene, confronting Eli as to whether or not he’s sleeping with his mom: “You know I came out of there 12 years ago. I was 9 pounds and 18 inches. What are you?”