Casual: EP Helen Estabrook talks Reunion
Every week the cast and crew of Hulu’s dark comedy Casual will be taking EW behind the scenes: For each episode, one member will be recapping and sharing their thoughts on what went down, in addition to walking us through the ins-and-outs of the show. This week, EP Helen Estabrook (she also produced 2014’s Whiplash) fills us in on episode 10, “Reunion.”
In this week’s episode, brilliantly written by Rosa Handelman, we start with a rare moment of happiness for Valerie, who is eating delicious things on a fake honeymoon. Poor Alex is left to fend for himself with only the support of his inadvertent girlfriend and her unwashed hands. As usual, Laura’s doing just fine, watching and living a teen cancer romance.
Of course, whenever Alex is in trouble, Leon gets a call, so he’s there to witness the Descending of the Finns (that would be a good college band name). While Alex shows them they’re not making a good point, they’re just counting (Tommy Dewey’s addition of “watch” to that line is one of my favorite ad-libs), Laura is upstairs having possibly the most honest conversation she’s ever had with someone who is not a member of her family. It should be noted that our director, Marielle Heller, is truly brilliant, which you can see in both this and last week’s episodes, but her work was especially important in these Laura/Spencer scenes, adding an even deeper layer of honesty that I couldn’t love more. If you haven’t seen her movie, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, you must do so immediately.
Valerie is busy with her new friends, impressing them with her rapping skills (Michaela Watkins can rap “anything Beastie Boys,” but we weren’t able to get the rights), and living the fantasy Dreams montage that all of us who were teenagers in the ’90s always wanted. Please look closely at the room service waiter who mistakenly leaves the champagne in the hallway — that’s a fun little cameo from creator Zander Lehmann.
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Alex annoys/insults/distracts everyone at Val’s office until he finally resorts to getting her attention the only way he knows will definitely work: Make her think her daughter needs her. When she gets home to find out the text was just his cry for help, we finally get the fight that these two have been almost having all season, starting one of the most heartbreaking series of scenes we have had on this show.
Let’s please just take a minute to admire the stunning performances from all our actors here. Michaela and Tommy are fantastic as always, shifting into new gears, and nothing breaks my heart like Kyle Bornheimer trying to pretend the spell isn’t broken, or Britt Lower’s acceptance of the break up/evisceration of Alex’s character.
It’s funny how quickly things can fall apart, especially when they may or may not have been put together that well in the first place. I think we can all agree that the moral of this story is: If you’re going to break off your engagement to move in with your unstable ex and his sister, it’s best to own a furniture store and have quick access to very efficient movers.