This episode of SDRR might have found a formula I can dig because, for once, the main ego-driven characters actually decided not to take themselves too seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, Johnny Rock is still trying to convince himself and everyone else that he’s too cool for the new-school music fads, and still holds on to a phantom reputation that pretty much died with him in the eighties. And Gigi is still entirely too wrapped up with herself and whatever image she is trying to uphold. But this episode and the characters’ storylines worked for two reasons: One, they finally allowed secondary characters Bam Bam and Rehab to shine, and two, the musical references, the cracks at pretentious hipsters and their newly invented musical genres were actually funny this time.
Up until now, every mention of the White Stripes, the Stones and other noteworthy bands was like listening to a bunch of teenage girls trying to impress each other with Justin Bieber trivia. In “Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” Johnny Rock and co. managed to make several points which resonated with viewers more than any of their prior storylines, and did so in a manner that was a lot more loose and organic than what we’ve grown used to.
As the band wraps up a night of rehearsals in the studio, it becomes clear that Flash is starting to feel his age, which in turn clashes with Gigi’s insatiable need for excitement and her abundance of adolescent energy. Gigi is all wired and geared up to put on her dancing shoes, whereas Flash just wants to put his feet up and watch a special episode of “Middle Earth Porn” AKA Game of Thrones. Before a discussion about evil midgets can get underway, Bam Bam and Rehab interrupt with a serious request: They want an equal split of the band’s profits, insisting that they are “the engine that drives this band.” In an attempt to make their point, they refer to a U2 article that suggests Bono and his bandmates split everything four ways. Unfortunately, they totally negate their point of the bass players and drummers being an essential part of every band when they fail to remember the actual names of U2’s “engines.”
Needless to say, Johnny Rock puts their request to shame:
“You’re proving the theory that nobody—including you—gives a shit who the engine is in U2, or any other band for that matter.”
After a night out dancing with her Dad and Ava, Gigi starts complaining about Flash and how boring he is, giving Johnny the perfect opportunity to piss on the Gigi & Flash parade, using the age gap as his ammunition. Gigi argues that Ron Wood (67) and his new thirty-six year old wife are perfectly happy together, so why shouldn’t she be able to make it work with Flash? Things get a bit weird when Johnny asks her whether she and Flash have ever done the dirty. Do these people have nothing else to worry about? And, in any case, Flash and Gigi’s relationship is so vague, I don’t get why they’re bothering with this storyline in the first place. To me, their little “thing”—if it can even be called that—is reminiscent of the kind of relationships you have as a twelve-year-old: eyeing each other up from the corners of the classroom without ever actually speaking to each other, but calling it “official” because you put a tick next to “Yes,” when a note came flying towards you, asking to go steady. In case you are just as preoccupied with the ongoing did-they-or-did-they-not question, the answer is no, they haven’t slept together yet, but Gigi has given him head. Now, I know that Gigi and Johnny are finally bonding and working out their warped relationship, but is that really the kind of conversation you want to have with your dad? Blow-job techniques and seductive systems?
After Ira schools Johnny about the basics of Parenting 101 and the power of reverse psychology, Johnny is determined to shift Gigi’s focus away from Flash and on to someone more suitable for her age. He finds the perfect candidate in the singer of latest two-man hipster band sensation, Jim and Mike. Jim (Bryan Fisher) and Gigi hit it off and spend a few wild nights together, leaving Flash to wonder what the hell happened. Although Jim doesn’t have too much to say, his band and the “normcore” sounds they produce are the very foundation of this episode. It draws a clear line between a genre that will, ultimately, forever and always stay rock—whether you add psychedelic, stoner or hard in front of it or not—and a musical generation that seems to have lost its way by desperately wanting to be unique and inventing genres to identify themselves with, instead of just rolling with it and focusing on the tunes.
Jim and Mike also act as an inspiration to Bam Bam and Rehab, who promptly decide to start their own two-man band as well as their own genre: Beastcore. They call themselves the Three Dolphin Clicking Sounds….as in “Click, Click, Click.” Rehab and Bam Bam share a few good moments in this episode, and it made me realize that they are probably the most natural characters on the show. It’s sad really, considering Denis Leary and John Corbett have always brought a strong sense of authenticity to their previous roles (Corbett in The United States of Tara, Leary in Rescue Me). But on SDRR it’s just not quite happening, and sometimes I wonder whether it is the repetitive banter between the two that contributes to their individual scenes feeling stale.
When Johnny and the rest find out about Bam Bam and Rehab’s new side project they are shocked to hear that their first performance was a hit. And why not? With their beastly sounds and their weirdo get-up, they felt like a Mighty Boosh tribute band.
Johnny’s pimpin’ efforts end in a freak out when both he and Gigi come to realize that Jim is basically a younger version of Johnny. Through gritted teeth and a whole build-up of vile, Johnny begs Flash to give Gigi another chance—a true triumph for Flash who makes Johnny instantly regret his plea with a little song:
“Hey, hey, I gotta say/I’m gonna make love to Johnny’s daughter someday/there’s a little baby midget, with a tiny little tank/Can Johnny Rock get a young girl?/ Hell, no he can’t!”
It’s a shame it took this long but, as far as I’m concerned, this has been the most entertaining episode of SDRR so far.