'Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce' recap: 'Rule No. 46: Keep the Holidays Simple'
Tonight, an oddly timed Thanksgiving episode of Girlfriends’ Guide reads a lot more like an oddly timed Halloween episode, and oddly, it works. It doesn’t exactly fit the vibe of the show to have a ghost plot, but it’s completely feasible that in a tumultuous time in Abby’s life she would latch onto a life that’s already been lived—one that she couldn’t possibly muck up any more than it already was. Ultimately, this spooky episode finds our main characters not being haunted by the ghost of the crack in Abby’s house’s foundation, but by the remnants of long-term relationships from their pasts: Abby is struggling to find how Jake fits into her new life, Delia is dealing with a father who disapproves of her as much as she disapproves of him, and Phoebe is still struggling to figure out how to have a relationship with herself that isn’t defined by everyone else around her.
That crack in the foundation of Abby’s house… that is the metaphor that keeps on giving. For the first time since Lilly’s birthday party—and even then, things fell into complete chaos in two minutes flat—almost the entire main cast is confined in a room together for the majority of this episode. And for a show that started off themed almost entirely around one event, divorce, everyone is dealing with a whole range of issues these days. But the beating heart of it all is still Abby and how she’s adjusting to the husband-less life, which is not to say, the Jake-less life.
Abby wakes up with her newly minted boyfriend, Will (who we’re still acting like is 28), to the construction being done on her house to repair the crack in the foundation that’s supposed to be done by Thanksgiving. Since the kids are with Jake, Abby and Will decide that they’ll spend Thanksgiving together, which soon evolves into Abby hosting Will and all of her friends and their guests. Oh, and Lilly and Charlie because Jake suddenly got sick, so now Abby is forced to decide if three weeks is a serious enough relationship to introduce your boyfriend to your children, or if uninviting your boyfriend of three weeks from Thanksgiving is a deal breaker. She decides to leave it up to Will what they should do, who of course says that he’s open to meeting her kids because Will is totally in love with Abby and is going to get his tiny little heart broken at some time in the very near future.
Speaking of potential heartbreaks… last week, Phoebe kissed Marco which was pretty awkward considering they’re pseudo-business partners and he had, to that point, barely tolerated her presence; but three weeks later (that’s according to the timeline of Abby + Will = <3) they’re back to normal with him making fun of her for dressing like she’s going to Coachella when she’s supposed to be helping build their Coke-sponsored edible walls. Phoebe is convinced this is flirting, tells Marco as much, and parlays it into inviting him to Abby’s Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not clear if Marco really was flirting with Phoebe, but he’s definitely intrigued by her.
Delia, after finally ridding herself of Gordon Beach, still isn’t doing great on the older gentlemen front: That odd confrontation in Las Vegas finally makes a little more sense when Delia’s father shows up to interrupt a lunch with her boss in what isn’t a particularly apologetic manner. In a matter of moments it’s revealed that Delia generally lies about her family history at work, can’t stand her father, and it might be for good reason. He’s the type to criticize everything he disagrees with, and as a social activist who was kicked out of Iran 30 years ago, he has plenty of things to find opposition to in L.A.: “People in this city wear their ignorance like a crown.” But he isn’t there to just look down on his daughter’s lifestyle; ironically, he’s there to call upon it, asking her for $5,000 because he says he has prostate cancer. You can’t ask your estranged sick dad to go back to Boston during the holidays, so that’s one more guest at Abby’s dinner table.
In between Jo whipping up ambrosia salads and Abby introducing the idea of Will to her kids, the dog (who has conveniently been missing for at least eight episodes) digs up a box amid the constructing going on with the foundation of the house. Even though the box is full of really creepy old pictures with the eyes scratched out of most of the people, Abby is immediately enamored with the story that the letters in the box begin to unfold: That of a passionate relationship between a man named Frank and a woman named Bertha. That is, until Dog (that’s the mystery dog’s name) won’t stop barking at the crack in the wall and the formerly stuck window starts slamming shut on its own accord. Abby does a little more dead-people-letters research and finds that Bertha was, in fact, Frank’s nanny who he was cheating on his wife with.
Jo wants to hold a séance, but Abby is too busy getting ready to introduce her children to her baby boyfriend and entertain 12 guests, so she just lets Jo prattle on about Frank—“oven not working, kids possessed, classic ghost moves”—and make green bean casseroles. That child possessed is Charlie, who throws a tantrum because Jake is feeling better and he wants him to come to Thanksgiving dinner. And the kid knows how to take initiative because he somehow sends a text from Abby’s phone (all caps) inviting Jake to dinner, which Abby only finds out when Jake shows up with pie just minutes before Will rings the doorbell.
NEXT: 12 dinner guests, one ghost, and a 28-year-old boyfriend…so much to be thankful for.
Things… do not go well. But they also don’t go as badly as they could. The writers don’t indulge in pratfalls and fisticuffs, they just portray what would happen when 12 people who don’t particularly know each other, but probably wouldn’t particularly like each other if they did, come together. Jo gets tanked, Delia’s father rants about Thanksgiving being a fake holiday, Marco agrees, Phoebe tells him he should have a drink and relax (never tell someone who isn’t drinking to have a drink… there is a reason they’re not drinking), Jake makes fun of Will for everything from how he cooks the goose to his age and Will finally explodes after Jake suggest he spend a couple more decades on the planet before he enters into debate at the dinner table: “What you really mean is how about I spend a couple more decades on this planet before I can screw your ex-wife!”
Okay, things got heated. And that’s not necessarily what Jake meant. When Abby and Jake go outside to talk they find that they’re both struggling with their first unmarried holiday. Abby doesn’t know how to act with Jake as a guest in the house that they spent decades in together, and Jake is feeling overwhelmed wondering if all the years they spent together are just gone—that they don’t matter anymore. Of course, that’s not the case. Abby tells him that they’re family no matter what and Jake reiterates his original positive take on their divorce: “I don’t want to live with you, but I want to die with you.”
Abby has been frightened by the parallels that she sees in the ghost of Frank; that even the oddly heartwarming idea of dying with Jake would still put her dying with this hugely tarnished relationship. But Jake says it’s not the same: “The guy was a loser who was banging the nanny. I’m a loser who can’t grow up, you’re the loser that ran away…different kinds of losers. No parallels.” They’re not really haunted, just scared.
And they’re not the only ones. After dinner, Marco opens up to Phoebe that he’s been sober for 18 months, and Phoebe tells him that her brother was an addict who’s dead now—it kind of feels like the only glimpse of the Phoebe that Phoebe is trying to get back to being that we’ve gotten. Marco says it scared him when Phoebe kissed him because it reminded him that he could want something good for himself. And so he kissed her this time. Embrace the pleasure gene, Marco!
In the more haunted realm are Delia and her father and it’s certainly becoming clearer why Delia has commitment issues. At dinner she revealed where much of her anger for her father comes from: He got their family kicked out of Iran, but her mother didn’t want to leave, so he left her, taking Delia with him, and her mother died while they were separated. As she waits for him outside a crappy motel, he comes out and says he can’t take her money. He’s not really sick; he got a DUI that he owes money for and he didn’t tell her because he has a hard time admitting he’s wrong. Delia seems disgusted but not surprised, and while her father also seems pretty ashamed of himself, he tells her before she goes that she “she has this idea of her mother, but she was just a person… like me, like you.”
The people we build relationships with are all just people. They make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes can’t be overcome. Mistakes, as much as love, are what make family fluid. For Jake and Abby, forever still means forever, just probably in a different way than they originally planned. And for Delia, one family’s mistakes seem to be holding her back from ever finding another one. But like Jake said, all of these losers—all of those mistakes—don’t have to run parallel. There are still connections to be made, partners to be had, hurdles to overcome… they just have to ignore the ghosts.