United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 9 Review - Christmas


Ah, the great American tradition - the sitcom Christmas special!  USofAL takes a novel twist on the 'meaning of Christmas' theme that usually hits the airwaves with an episode that pokes at materialism, love, and, yes, the true meaning of Christmas.

Al (Adhir Kalyan) celebrates his first American Christmas and fortunately the writers resist too much immigrant humor because, let's face it, as an interpreter with the U.S. Marines, the holidays and all its revelry can't be completely strange to him.

Instead the episode focuses on Riley (Parker Young) who finally asks out Holly (Amanda Payton), the bartender who gave him her number a few episodes ago. As a veteran herself, Holly and Riley immediately connect and have a fun raunchy week together so he decides to invite her to his father's Christmas party.

At the party, Riley's ex Vanessa (Kelli Goss) immediately gets jealous of his happiness. It's one thing for her to enjoy the first season and a half of Riley's alcoholic misery but it's another thing to see him glowing in Holly's presence. Vanessa gets into a drunken fit before getting warned off by Riley's sister, Lizzie (Elizabeth Alderfer). (Small point here - why the need to go to booze all the time? It's an overused crutch in this show!)

Meanwhile, Riley's dad Art (Dean Norris) gets a sweater from his girlfriend Lois (Rachel Bay Jones) but freaks when Lizzie tells him the sweater is worth more than their house. As the only loner here, is Lizzie being vindictive?

Art ends up with a heart-to-heart with Lois about gift-giving while Riley and Vanessa have their own conversation that obviously shows the two still have feelings for each other. It's a holiday episode that ends up more reflective than joyous, all in keeping with the difficult balancing act USofAL has juggled with this season.


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.

@harrisonic (Twitter)

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