This week’s Up All Night was all about drama—and it worked. Sort of. Earlier episodes of the series relied on Reagan and Chris adapting to life as parents, but this episode tries to focus on something totally unrelated to parenting.
“Rivals” has Reagan in a tense battle with Shayna (Megan Mullally), a former Ava sidekick who left for her own talk show and has been stealing Ava’s episode ideas. It would have been nicer to see more of the character, but she was vastly underused. Mullally is one of the finest comediennes that television has seen in a long time, but here she was relegated to cheap laughs. Quite frankly, the series is better than that.
This plot should have been the main focus, but it took a back seat in order to give Chris more screen time. More on that in a minute, but for now let’s focus on where Shayna’s story fell short. It was set up that she was some giant schemer and out to make Ava’s life a living hell. In the end it turns out to be lackluster and just a way to propel Reagan to make a happy realization.
Meanwhile Reagan is also jealous of Laura, Chris’ new stay-at-home mom friend. Suddenly they have inside jokes and he does activities with her and not Reagan. A tipping point is when the couple is hanging out for the first time in a while and Chris takes a phone call from Laura and laughs through it. I must admit, it was very flirty.
The best scene by far was the dinner scene where Reagan confronted Chris and his new friend Laura about hanging out and ‘cheating’—of course cheating is watching the finale of Friday Night Lights and not sex. The interplay is terrific and allows Chris to toe around something that isn’t an awful act, but is in their relationship. Sitcoms have relied on scenes like this for years, and it’s nice to see Up All Night put a great spin on cheating.
All seasons have a few throw-away episodes, and great shows only have a few down ones. For Up All Night this episode marked one of those. It wasn’t awful, but it just fell flat and will be easy to forget until you’re watching a marathon on DVD and think to yourself, “This was okay.” But “okay” is still better than half of the shows on television, so Up All Night has no need to worry.