This week’s episode (entitled “Ham”) follows up on the
events of the previous episode, specifically concerning Rose’s mental state.
Josh visits his hospitalized mother in the ICU, but unbeknownst to Rose, Josh
is actually there to transport her to a mental institution. Rose pleads for
Josh to take her home, but her elevated state keeps her from understanding the
gravity of the situation (she laughs when the nurse explains her various options).
This moment segues into – you guessed it – the theme song. The credits and song
are set to images of nurses divvying up colorful pills into various cups. The
rapid editing creates a montage of patients downing their pills, giving a new
meaning to the lyric, “I’ll be fine.”
Rose seems to enjoy her new room and
tries to create some idle chatter with her son but Josh explains to his mother
that he has to leave and prepare for Patrick’s birthday party (he is cooking a
ham). After making fun of her son’s crush on Patrick, Rose invites Josh to come
later that night for dinner
As Josh is
perusing the supermarket for cooking supplies, he receives a call from Rose, who
asks him for coins for a vending machine. Josh promises to bring them the next
day, but Rose interrupts him by saying he can “just cut out the middleman” and bring
setting up for the party, Josh and the roommates meet Arnold (Keegan Joyce), an
early arrival. Arnold tries to apologize for coming early, but Josh invites him
to relax with some elderflower gin spritzer.
With the party in full swing, the
awkward chatter covers a range of topics, including Tom’s “big penis” (which he
measured with a toilet paper roll). Tom’s penis conversation attracts the
attention of Jenny (Charlotte Nicdao), an 18 year-old high school student who
casually flirts with the well-endowed roommate. While Tom and Jenny get to know
one another, Josh attempts to save his frog costume from Arnold’s brother,
Steve (Nick Cody). Meanwhile, Rose, who is bored with her surroundings, takes
an opportunity (her roommate trying to hang herself with a hair dryer) to
escape and make her way to Josh’s place.
serves to establish a wide variety of new relationships for the characters: the
friendship between Steve and Patrick, the budding relationship between Jenny
and Tom, and the potential chemistry between Arnold and Josh. In particular, the
conversations between Arnold and Josh take an interesting turn as the two
preoccupy themselves by revealing their insecurities and respective situations.
In a lovely moment, Josh stumbles upon Arnold sitting on the floor/playing with
John (Josh’s dog). Arnold talks about being adopted and “mental,” while Josh
talks about how he institutionalized his mother earlier that morning. It is a
wonderful/childlike moment whose intimacy is exacerbated by the low camera
Later on, the
roommates and new friends play an intense game of beer pong, with team members
slinging insults back and forth. Arnold throws out a quip about Josh dealing
with his mom, while Josh (who wins the game) calls Arnold an “orphan.” Tensions
mount as Patrick and Steve try to shame Josh for his comments (even though Arnold
says that the comments were funny/okay). Patrick tries to alleviate the
situation by telling Arnold and his team that they don’t have to drink the
cups, but Arnold and Tom are more than happy to have an excuse to drink.
Patrick storms off, leaving Josh to awkwardly address the crowd of people.
ease when Patrick and Steve try to make a peace offering by dragging Josh
toward the “spa” (aka the Jacuzzi). Rose arrives before anything happens and
tells the boys to unhand her son. Confused as to how his mother escaped the
hospital, Josh tells Rose that he is taking her back. He rushes inside and
grabs a box of chocolates, with Arnold trailing behind and asking if everything
is fine. Josh replies by telling Arnold to Facebook him, but when Arnold
reveals that he doesn’t have a Facebook, Josh says that he doesn’t have the
time to “indulge” him on the choice he made.
episode, like the premiere episode, ends with an intriguing moment that mixes
serious drama with nuanced comedy: Josh and Rose share their chocolates with
two other patients named Ginger (Denise Drysdale) and Hannah (Hannah Gadsby).
When there is only one chocolate left, Rose proposes a game (in the vain of Notting Hill) that the person with the
worst losing-your-virginity story will win the chocolate. Josh recounts how his
girl had an asthma attack (he thought he was doing a good job), Rose talks
about her first time with Josh’s father, Ginger discusses her vengeful sex with
her ex-boyfriend’s best friend, and Hannah simply states that she was raped.
Realizing she is about to lose the chocolate, Ginger – who is manifesting the
signs of a pathological liar – claims she was raped as well. No one believes
her, so Ginger steals the chocolate anyway. Hannah tells Josh that he owes her
as great as the premiere episode, but it still boasts some brilliant moments. One
of the more intriguing elements of the episode is the balancing act Josh Thomas
performs with the comedic and dramatic aspects of serious issues like mental
illness, rape, suicide, and adoption. He handles these topics with a matter-of-fact
attitude, challenging the patronizing nature of characters like Steve and
Patrick. Even though these issues have an emotional weight that bears down on
the characters, Thomas gives a refreshing take by treating the characters more
as functioning (if not flawed) humans rather than victims. I’m curious as to
how these characters will develop further in the series, and I am especially
intrigued by how Arnold will play into the narrative fabric of the season.