American Housewife - Season 5 Episode 12 Review - How Oliver Got His Groove Back

"There's my arrogant douchebag!"

And with that Katie, declares mission accomplished after commandeering Oliver's Instagram account to woo a pretty girl, Audra (Alyssa Jirrels) to come to the Otto home to watch "Little Women" (supposedly Oliver's favorite movie) and eat hot Cheetos (supposedly Oliver's favorite snack).

Oh, where to begin.

First of all, hats off to the ABC TV gods that AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE had the unfortunate luck and timing to air an episode about a massage parlor just a week after the massage parlor shootings in Atlanta.

Secondly, this episode exists in a weird, alternate universe where the storylines of the past either didn't take place or have no bearing.  Fans who have long expected and hoped for "Cooliver" were shocked to find Katie steer Oliver into a relationship with a girl, a rebound relationship because apparently Oliver was soooo depressed after his *one* prom date, Lindsey, ignored him last episode on a visit home from college. The never-happened "Oliver-Lindsey" has now been retrofitted in this episode to an important off-screen relationship that devastated Oliver and left him with a "Lindsey shaped hole" when he was ghosted.

So forget all the years of "Cooliver" innuendo - in fact, Cooper isn't even in this episode (in case he distracts Oliver from Audra?). ABC and/or the showrunners have declared in this episode that Oliver is straight. And guessing by the angry social media response, ABC isn't too concerned about the unhappy fans, some accusing the show of queer-baiting.

In a B storyline, Trip and Taylor finally break up.... and then they're back together again.  This makes the couple either the dumbest couple on TV or ABC/showrunners have decided this on again relationship is another bit of baiting they can do to string along an audience.  Quick recap, Taylor has been outgrowing the child-like Trip ever since she started college and expanded her mind.  Remember that Taylor is attending Greg's college to save money until she can go to her chosen university, Carnegie-Mellon, and see the world. And she was very disappointed that Trip had no plans, no ambitions outside of Westport. 

Taylor and Trip decided to break up... for an entire afternoon.

In the C storyline, Greg and Lonnie (Matt Shively) decide to go undercover at a massage parlor to spy on one of his election opponents. Aside from the bad timing of being set in the massage parlor, this is the only funny story in the episode as the two buffoon their way through political dirty tricks.

And last but not least, Anna-Kat and Franklin (Evan O'Toole) celebrate their third anniversary of sharing gum with each other. Anna-Kat slaves away to bake him a licorice cake while Franklin composes a rap for her. Unhappy with her present, Anna-Kat stews while Franklin also seems to ghost her.

But back to Cooliver...

Fans of THE WALKING DEAD will remember a few years ago that there was some fan movement to make Darryl (Norman Reedus) a gay character.  In fact, when Reedus was asked what he thought about playing gay, he welcomed the challenge, saying, "I would play the shit out of it!"

With AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, it seems that the already uneven writing has run out of steam. Perhaps they've hit a point that they can't keep teasing "Cooliver" and they have to decide whether to fish or cut bait. Or maybe the actors had issues.  Whatever the reason, fan servicing is a touchy topic but how AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE has addressed it with revisionist storylines isn't the way to go. Some natural progression and character development would be nice, even in a sitcom.

At the close of this episode, Oliver and Audra pave over her outrage at being catfished by Katie all this time. He points out that it gave them the opportunity to get to know each other.  WTF?  Sorry, Oliver, Audra didn't get to know you at all! That wasn't your favorite movie or favorite snack. You never had a pet snake, Slyerthin.  All Audra got to *know* was Katie's (and friends) weird, amalgamated version of you. If Audra felt betrayed, imagine how some of the fans are feeling!

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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