Up All Night has done a terrific job of taking sitcom staples and turning them into modern, semi-realistic episodes. From the flashback birth episode to the introduction and visit of the crazy parents, the show has tried to tone down the kitschiness and make it relatable. For the most part it works. There are still moments when I think, “Come on! That’s totally unrealistic.” Then I get reeled back in and remember it’s just a show.
This week’s episode, the last before the holiday hiatus, provides a look into Reagan and Chris’ first Christmas with Amy, which gives us another off-the-wall but believable episode.
“First Christmas” takes two classic holiday episode ideas and combines them into a hectic episode. And though hectic usually has a negative connotation, I’m using it in a positive way. I mean, what holiday isn’t hectic?
First Reagan wants to impress Amy with grand, over-the-top decorations after seeing the baby’s response to their annoying neighbors’ ‘Winter Wonderland.’ Second, we get to see Chris, who has been a stay-at-home dad for a year and hasn’t worked since, trying to figure out a way to buy Reagan something nice without using her money.
It’s a pretty big yawn if you hear those two plots without seeing the episode, but again Up All Night turns boring into enjoyable. A pleasant twist is Ava’s subplot involving Kevin (Jason Lee, who deserves to stick around) wanting to spend time with his daughter and ex-wife instead of going skiing with Ava. Instead of enjoying a trip to Utah by herself, she stays back to spy on him. She’s turning into the Kramer/Barney/Abed of the series without the writers forcing her to become the fan favorite.
Like always, some great random moments happened that made this show stand out for not shoving the comedy down our throats. Ava’s pronunciation of ‘diamond’ wasn’t necessary, but it provided just another moment that shows she lives on a different planet and is out of touch with reality. Even when Reagan threatens a Christmas-themed store employee with a chicken nugget, it’s over-the-top, but because it’s the holiday, her antics are acceptable.
Throughout this review I kept referring to the show as believable, and I’m sure you know what I mean. The antics don’t run high like on Community or 30 Rock, and the chemistry between the characters makes them feel like they’re your friends—unlike on Whitney. Believability has gone out the window with NBC comedies (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but somehow this show doesn’t rely on anything but honest stories and a great cast. Hopefully when the show returns in January it can continue to provide a half hour of believable comedy.