It’s been another good week for Survivor’s Remorse.
First off, on Wednesday, Starz announced the comedy series has been renewed for a third season. Second, creator Mike O’Malley and his team succeeded in producing an episode that took an extremely awkward subject and turned it into a touching story line—without sacrificing the show’s signature comedy style.
True, we have to get through about three-quarters of the episode and a whole lot of funny and wince-inducing jokes on the topic before we arrive at poignancy. But Survivor’s Remorse sure knows how to keep vaginal rejuvenation from being a one-note punch line (no, I can’t believe I just wrote that line either).
The episode focuses on Cassie’s decision to, as she describes it to M-Chuck and Missy, “get my pocketbook tweaked” (and, for once, M-Chuck has to take a backseat to Missy, who nails the mood in the room better than M-Chuck ever could with this killer response: “I wish my mother and I were this close”). But just because Cassie is strong enough to go through with the surgery, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for her to discuss with her children — nor does it mean she even wants to, but that’s also a great added layer to the plot.
Since Cassie is living off of Cam, she has to at least alert him that there may be some out-of-pocket costs. And because she’s not exactly keen to let her son in on her private, female decisions, she’s cagey about her “procedure.” This of course leads Cam to think she’s got cancer, so he panics and engages his sister in (what I hope will be the only time I ever write these words) a hilarious discourse over what constitutes “good cancer” and “bad cancer”:
Cam: “Non-Hodgkin’s is bad. People hit me up on Twitter every day for non-Hodgkin’s—it’s decimating people.”
M-Chuck: “We do a ton of cardio—nobody’s getting cancer….If [Mom had cancer], she wouldn’t be so vague. She’d be milking you for all you’re worth, you know that.”
Did I mention that this entire dialogue takes place on a stretch of highway where M-Chuck is doing her post-punching-Cam-in-the-eye community-service cleanup? Now that Cam’s eye has healed and he’s back on the court, M-Chuck is spending her days sporting the latest in fluorescent-orange vests.
Once M-Chuck has accosted her mother at the nail salon later in the episode, the truth comes spilling out: Having two kids messed up Cassie’s lady parts, and she’s taking advantage of modern medicine (and her son’s newfound wealth) to get “a bionic pussy.” With the cancer scare out of the picture, M-Chuck is all, “Your body, your life, Ma.” Cam, on the other hand, not so much.
Here lies the downside to Cassie being dependent on her son: It’s true, Cam doesn’t get to control what she does with her body. But since he’s footing the bill, he does wind up a lot more involved in a situation that, under any other circumstances, wouldn’t be any of his business. “I want to know what I’m paying for,” he confesses to M-Chuck and Julius before he convinces them to help stage an intervention with Cassie. Cam also makes a good point about why he should worry: It doesn’t matter if you have money, because things can still go wrong on the operating table.
But the real truth behind Cam’s outburst comes out before Julius and M-Chuck begrudgingly go along with the intervention: He’s just plain weirded out by seeing his mom have a sex life. (The episode begins with Cassie and her current squeeze, Blair, having a very loud quickie the morning after a date.) So instead of trying to grasp the fact that his mother is a grown — and, for all intents and purposes, lonely — woman, Cam tries to pin the vaginal-rejuvenation decision on Blair.
As soon as the Cassie intervention is in full-swing, it becomes clear that Cam is just not going to win this fight, because usually if you’re that concerned about possible side effects, you take the time to actually look them up:
“Vaginal prolapse! I don’t know what vaginal prolapse is, but that’s how serious this is, Mom!”
NEXT: The truth comes out[pagebreak]
Cassie is furious—especially when Cam starts laying blame on Blair, who is in the kitchen cooking dinner (and what’s wrong with this guy again?). She insists that none of this has to do with her beau, who doesn’t even know about it. But once Julius and M-Chuck leave the room, and Cassie opens up to her son, that’s when the name of the episode really comes into play: Because it’s here that Tichina Arnold earns the title of “MVP.”
Using a combination of hard truths and raw emotion, Cassie schools her son on what the real life of a single parent is like:
“When [you were] born, I was still a girl. I’ve hardly even been with anybody else since you were born, and motherf—er, that’s a long time….I’m not asking for your appreciation. I’m asking you for some understanding. Instead of making me feel like I’m some f—ing beggar coming to you trying to explain my uncomfortable private f—ing matters.”
Cassie never really had the chance to know what it was like to be an adult woman, and now that she has that opportunity, why should the experience of a mom and a woman be mutually exclusive? “I just want to have fun—like any other mother would have the right!”
She admits to Cam that after she had her children, things “changed” in that part of her body—and “they never changed back.” Cassie doesn’t have to say anything more here, because Arnold’s face speaks better than any witty line from the Survivor’s Remorse writers: Cassie is very insecure about herself, and she doesn’t want to feel that way anymore. It’s an incredibly honest and powerful moment, one that we don’t see often enough on TV.
But just because Cassie let her guard down here doesn’t mean she’s letting her son get away with getting all up in her business: She demonstrates her impending procedure by placing the hood on her son’s sweatshirt around his head—and pulling the drawstrings tight around his face (yeah, I cringed too). When Cam apologizes and asks that they never discuss this subject again, Cassie reminds him of another important truth: “You started it.” Point: Calloway (not the one currently playing for a professional basketball team).
Arnold also merits her MVP title in the episode’s concluding hospital scene for the simple fact that in another television rarity, Cassie actually looked like someone who had just come out of major surgery. Her face was makeup-free, her hair was unkempt—and she was drooling.
We’ll have to wait for subsequent episodes to find out if Cassie’s procedure did allow her to “go out for a brisk jog” every now and then. But if M-Chuck’s sly smile and hand gesture is any indication—a loopy, post-op Cassie asked her daughter to take a look at the doctor’s handiwork—Cassie’s sex life is going to be A-OK.
Also A-OK? The musical choice for the episode’s closing credits: “Tighten Up My Thang,” by the Soul Children.
- With all of the jokes made at the expense of Cassie’s lady parts this episode, it’s tough to pick one that delivered just the right amount of laughter and insight. But the winner here has to go to (big surprise) Mike Epps’ lightning-quick delivery when Cam asks, point-blank, “What the hell is vaginal rejuvenation?” Julius: “When you shrink-wrap the p—y.”
- Although Missy was present for Cassie’s nail-salon bombshell, the Vaughns were mercifully kept out of the Calloway family’s drama this week. Instead, Reggie found himself swept up in the arcane world of money management in the form of a Jimmy Flaherty-recommended nut job (no, really, he gives Reggie a giant bag of almonds) named Ira Irwin (Richard Kind). Ira is in the habit of spouting nonsense like, “We use money as a lubricant to get what we want,” “I help people’s money get off,” and “I am the mucus of capitalism – not the snot, the mucus. Mucus is a facilitator for copulation.” By the time their meeting is over, and a confused Reggie is sent on his way with a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and a strong “rich people are weird” vibe, Missy’s va-va-va-voom bedroom attire is the only thing that could possibly scrub Ira’s sex-and-phlegm gibberish from our minds. Not sure where this subplot is going, but it could use a little more Flaherty and a little less Irwin.