Dignity, like respect, can be hard to come by—especially in a comedy like Wilfred, where nothing is sacred. There’s a fine line we walk to reach that hallowed place. Must dignity be earned, or is it something we’ve always had? And more importantly, can it be bought by subjugating a furry friend?
These are the questions Ryan must face in this week’s episode. Like so many others, our lovably disturbed anti-hero is having a little trouble standing up to his boss. Although he’d rather spend his Friday night with his sweet, quirky new love interest Amanda (Allison Mack), an intense workload is threatening to keep him in. Back home, Ryan is having similar trouble saying no. An invitation to one of his father’s black-tie events has left him torn; he repeatedly considers the invitation, yet can’t seem to respond one way or another.
Wilfred, quick to point out Ryan’s flaws with his incredible canine insight, implores Ryan to revoke his doormat status and finally stand up for himself. Instead, Ryan begins exploiting his four-legged friend by bringing him to work, using Wilfred’s doggy charm to bring out the “aww” in office. But oversaturation leaves everyone jaded, and while Ryan searches for a way to once again charm his boss, Wilfred schemes to work his way back into the hearts of Ryan’s co-workers.
“Dignity,” like so many episodes of Wilfred, relies on a steady combination of dark humor, doggy shtick and friendship. Moments like Wilfred’s casual house destruction while describing his boredom to Ryan over the phone, or even his chats with pigeons are endearing in the obvious, “har har, it’s because he’s a dog,” kind of way. The relationship between Ryan and Wilfred is one that can only be described as dysfunctionally effective, as Wilfred’s advice always gets Ryan to a better place—but maybe not in the best way. It’s the kind of friendship that, like a car accident, is interesting to watch, but not to be a part of.
But along with its highs, the episode has its fair share of stumbles. The simple janitor, for example, feels like an easy target in the story arc. It’s hard to feel any kind of real antipathy toward the character, as he doesn’t even seem to really grasp his most malicious of acts. In itself, the idea behind the driving plotline is not terribly original. Ultimately, it’s still the weirdness of Wilfred’s jokes that make the show worth watching.
Wilfred is a series that’s bound to entertain those who can roll with the punches. Or, more specifically, the low blows. As Ryan’s boss hits the floor, rolling around gleefully with Wilfred, the man-dog voices a thought many viewers must come to on a regular basis: “This is happening. This is actually happening.”
Yes, this is happening. And when Wilfred asks in a moment of Gladiator inspiration, “Are you not entertained?” we can’t help but bob our heads amicably.