Jammers, we’re back! It feels like it’s been eons since Playing House and the kewl-est childhood best friends have been on air, but tonight’s double whammy of new episodes made it feel like no time had passed, and nothing had changed.
On second thought, some things have changed for these first two installments of season 2. For one thing, there’s baby Charlotte, who’s so cute and adorable that I’m actually a tad insulted she wasn’t in every scene. For another, there’s a knockout cameo from HGTV’s Property Brothers in a hilariously vivid dream sequence. And finally, there’s the new dynamic between Maggie and Emma, and Mark and Bird Bones Tina that sets up a satisfying arc in the first episode for our BFF heroines. The show’s no longer about two best friends struggling to live together and prep for a baby; it’s now about two best friends struggling to find their place in the crazy town they live in. The question is: Will it be funny and sweet enough to satisfy Jammers? (If you’re a newbie, what are you doing here? Go and binge the first 10-episode season!)
To me, as a fan of the first season, the opening episodes deliver the same laughs and manic dialogue I enjoyed in the first season, thanks to Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair being completely comfortable in Maggie and Emma’s shoes, respectively. Less comfortable for the duo: the opening scenes of the premiere, in which Charlotte, Maggie, and Emma (along with a giant banana, a toucan costume, and a piece of prop hay stuck in Emma’s underwear) pose for family photos taken by a creepy, possibly “clinically insane” photographer. Aside from the awkward props, the two field questions about their relationship—they’re just best friends with a baby and they want to take a great photo that’ll end up on the wall, what’s weird about that?—and later run into Mark (Keegan-Michael Key) and Tina (Lindsay Sloane), who’s still intent on having Mark stay away from Emma. Instead of solving anything, Emma and Tina bicker, while Mark and Maggie try to talk about their (as in, Mark and Tina’s) new dog (named Rene, because he’s French, bien sûr).
Unbeknownst to Emma and Tina, Mark has been secretly meeting Maggie to do the awful, unforgivable, and totally shameful act of… playing with Charlotte. (I would do the same, Mark.) Because Maggie finds all the sneaking around ridiculous, she tries to convince Mark that he needs to talk to his wife. It doesn’t work. Instead, she accidentally leaves Charlotte’s favorite toy, Mr. Kooky, behind at Mark and Tina’s pristine, walk-in-closet-filled house. And thus begins Operation Save Mr. Kooky, in which she and Emma have to sneak into said house while Mark and Tina are out on their date night. Things go well until they hear the door open, and the two sneak into a meticulously organized closet (“What is this sweet paradise we have stumbled upon?” Emma asks) to get out of the way. Luckily, Mark and Tina don’t notice them—they’re too busy arguing about whether Tina is lactose intolerant all the time and whether (gasp!) Emma has fat feet—but when Tina tries to find her petit Rene, Maggie and Emma realize the French-but-not-really-French dog has joined them in the closet. “Rene, you little a–hole,” they hiss at the dog.
Maggie and Emma come close to successfully rescuing Mr. Kooky without letting Mark and Tina know, but Mark sees them, and when Tina enters, hoping to finish their date night with some, uhh, “dessert,” she sees them too. She promptly tries to throw them out—until Mark sits them all down and has them air out their grievances. With everything finally resolved between Mark’s wife and Mark’s former girlfriend, Maggie and Emma can move on…
…to helping Maggie get her body worked! And thus we begin episode 2, in which Maggie dreams about the Property Brothers. It’s the funniest Parham/St. Clair scene so far, as Maggie talks about how the HGTV hunks “took off my… tarp… and there was no… carpet… even though there is carpet in real life…” and Emma listens, wide-eyed. Maggie wishes she could get a shot at a man reminiscent of early Tom Hanks, and Emma has a solution: Sign Maggie up for the crazy world of—drumroll, please!—Tinder.
It all goes well at first. (It always does.) Emma finds so many men interested in Maggie, she has enough photos to put up in the living room to make even a serial killer’s lair look like an innocent collage. (A serial killer’s lair, though, would probably not include a “bearded” section.) The “crazy awesome” setup leads to Maggie dancing in front of her mirror, psyching herself up for her date, thinking she could last at least one night in the field. Emma, however, brings in a slew of guys, rejecting them one by one when she deems them unworthy of her best friend. Finally, one comes along that strikes up pleasant conversation with Maggie—a man played by Rich Sommer, a.k.a. Harry Crane to Mad Men fans—but she begins lactating, which makes her start talking about human milk. Date over.
Emma, meanwhile, tried her best to be a “straight up pimp” for Maggie, only to end up in her own meet-cute. Not that Maggie minds. She happily places a blanket on top of Emma to close out the two episodes whil Emma dozes off and dreams of—who else?—the Property Brothers.
Two episodes in, and we’ve already seen Emma pimp out Maggie, Maggie talk about human milk, and the two hiding in a closet—and I haven’t even mentioned what Maggie’s ex, Bruce (Brad Morris), and brother, Zach (Zach Woods), have been up to. Bruce, aside from making tomato sauce and learning life lessons with his mother, spent time partnering up with Zach (collectively known as “duncle,” because the pair are Charlotte’s dad and uncle, respectively) to take care of Charlotte. They’re happy to read her Moby Dick and play her Beethoven… until she poops, as babies do. Even the adorable ones.
Yes, the show has once again managed to pack plenty of high jinks into each episode, but with the addition of Charlotte and more wiggle room for Maggie and Emma, there’s still plenty of story to tell about their friendship and family. In other words, it looks like Playing House is back in full force. As long as future episodes this season continue including both Maggie and Emma’s misadventures, and observant dialogue (and references to movies Emma hasn’t seen), the series should have no problem pleasing Jammers who have missed the show. And that’s just totes kewl.