American Housewife - Season 5 Episode 8 Review - Encourage Discourage


"I've always wanted a fabulous gay best friend!" Katie declares joyously as she group hugs Tami (Holly Robinson Peete) and a newcomer to her Second Breakfast Club, JD (Jake Choi), a luxury hotel manager who has just moved to Westport.  And with that line, AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE has officially replaced the old Second Breakfast club (Katie with her Asian and Black friends) with a new club (Katie with her Asian and Black friends).  The writers apparently assumed fans of the show would completely forget that Katie previously had a fabulous gay best friend in Angela (played by Carly Hughes) for four seasons.

Well, this is a sitcom, not a sci-fi drama concerned about canon, so re-writing history aside, this episode was amusing with a running theme about fatherhood. Missing in action this episode - no Franklin, no Doris (Is Ali Wong gone for good?). Greg tries to show off his fatherly skills by trapping a racoon in the attic. Cooper confesses his father never taught him how to ride a bike. And Katie's new gay best friend, JD, tells the Second Breakfast Club that he really wants to adopt a child - especially after watching Katie's Mommy vlog!

There were two dueling secondary stories vying for funniest in this episode. As Cooper adjusts to Otto middle class poverty, he cancels his luxury subscriptions, including monthly deliveries of caviar and foot scrub. Oliver laments that they will no longer have the smoothest, uncallused feet. But when Oliver tells Cooper to borrow his bicycle, Cooper is forced to reveal that his father never really taught him how to do much of anything. It's a cute and touching moment as Oliver begins to appreciate Greg and loans him out to teach Cooper how to ride a bike. 

The other story line has Taylor continuing her Disney princess style ambitions of wanting to see the world. Her teaching assistant, Andre (Chibuikem Uche) talks Plato and keeps encouraging her to grow, experience, and travel.  Meanwhile, Trip (an inexplicably bearded Peyton Meyer) spends days pondering why a Hot Pocket is called a Hot Pocket, and perhaps seals his fate by telling Taylor he never wants to leave Westport.  When Taylor hugs Katie, confiding in her mom about her frustration with Trip, I almost expected her to break out  singing "A Whole New World."

But it's the introduction of JD that gooses AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE as the show recovers from a rough year of cast exits and COVID production cuts. Jake Choi is charming as the preppy hotel manager, but more than that, he has an immediately backstory about wanting to be a father, memories of his father's joy watching him play basketball, and a bittersweet line about the challenges of gay adoption.  With good intentions to deter him from parenthood, Tami and Katie expose JD to Tami's bratty girl, Grace, but JD clings to his dream of adoption, and even Katie has to admit she loves her kids.

Depending on how you count them, AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE only has four or five more episodes left this season. And depending on how many episodes they already shot before getting the 12-episode cut, we won't know if bigger story arcs will finish satisfactorily. In this episode, Anna-Kat gets banished to camp and has one solitary scene and two short lines. The new Second Breakfast - based on the stills - was also edited to cut out the obnoxious waiter (Jim Rash). Tripp is possibly bearded because Peyton Meyer was likely in preparation for his role in the movie, HE'S ALL THAT. And Greg's bike-riding lesson looked very heavily edited, ending up as a quick push on Cooper's back - imagine your first time riding a bike without falling or bruised knees!

Still, this episode shows what AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE can be when it simplifies the character clutter. After some fifth season flailing, hopefully the audience numbers rebound.

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.

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »