American Housewife: Season 5, Episode 2 Review "Psych"

Oh what a difference an episode makes!  After a very slick and skillful fifth season premiere, the second episode was oddly clumsy and at times inconsistent with the characters we know and love.  

First of all, Katie's lasagna business is inexplicably gone. Fans of AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE will remember that her lasagna business dominated most of last season as it gave Katie a 'work from home' business without having to deal with a boss. It also gave her some bonding moments with son, Oliver, as they ran the fledgling business together.

We don't know if her business went under or if Katie just got bored or if she sold the recipe and made some money out of it. The lasagna business is gone to give Katie a reason to be extra intrusive into her kids' lives in this particular episode.

I'm still getting used to the new Anna-Kat (Giselle Eisenberg). Gauging by the reaction on social media, so is everyone else as she pops up jarringly unfamiliar, like a distant cousin at a family reunion. In this episode, she complains that Franklin (a fast growing Evan O'Toole who is now as tall as Oliver) isn't much of a boyfriend.  While the two of them argue by a water fountain in school, a big kid gets a drink only to have Anna-Kat yell that she was next in line. I rewound this scene to double-check, and she and Franklin were out of line once they started to argue, so sorry, Anna-Kat, you snooze, you lose. But Franklin challenges the older kid to a duel, and in one of the funnier scenes of the episode, does some impressive stretching before the fight.

Oliver goes for his first internship interview and is shot down in a particularly mean-spirited way. In fact, that's probably what was strikingly about this episode was that there were a couple of scenes that seemed inconsistent with the good natured jibing that usually works for the show.  Katie declares to Anna-Kat, "Mothering is bullying."  (Ironically, the younger cast of AH recently participated in the anti-bullying #SpiritDay campaign to take a stand against... bullying.)  Taylor, now in college, talks down to Trip which is as mean as kicking a puppy. And Oliver's classmate, a reoccurring character, Trevor (Tenzing Norgay Trainor), comes up with an idea for an app, and when he's questioned by the teacher about privacy issues, Trevor snaps back with such major hostility that I thought he was going to come back and shoot up the school.

It looks as if AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE will continue in a non-COVID universe as they remain maskless in school and in a town meeting.  And the writers of AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE are still teasing about Oliver and Cooper's relationship. Taylor actually calls Cooper 'Oliver's boyfriend' but Oliver protests, "not my boyfriend."  Oliver actor, Daniel DiMaggio, even tweeted "Not my boyfriend" but who knows if he did it as a joke or a clarification? Whatever, it's still funny, and just like Katie's lasagna business, anything could happen.

Harrison Cheung is the author of the award-winning biography of Christian Bale (BenBella Books) and a contributor to Brave New Hollywood and The TV Ratings Guide.

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