Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce recap: 'Rule No. 33: When in Doubt, Run Away'
The ringing wisdom of tonight’s episode: “Nobody truly interesting is universally liked.” That’s a theme the show itself seems to be standing by. And tonight, things got interesting. Some people have really taken to this show, and some people haven’t, and that’s okay. At least it’s doing something (or at least, that’s what the new Abby might think). Carl the Gigolo’s theory holds up pretty well when applied to television, as well as people: the most interesting shows—and the most interesting people—always have their detractors.
Now, I’m not saying Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce is one of the most interesting shows on television. But it’s certainly not just another sitcom, or just another crime show, or just another dark anti-hero saga. This is a show about divorce and, as we find out tonight, the pretty messed-up women going through them. Not just L.A. messed-up, shuffling their kids to school in six-inch heels and trying to maintain amicable conscious uncouplings. No—I’m pretty sure that one of them got a hooker last night, another nearly killed an infant, and one is maybe, perhaps, I-could-be-reading-this-wrong, about to steal her kids. And don’t even get me started on Delia!
Abby says herself tonight—it’s a pretty meta episode, all around—that divorce is painful and sad and no one wants to read about
or watch it. But what Abby is figuring out, and I think what this show continues to work out, is that sometimes the sad, scary, bleeding-out-in-front-of-your-friends stuff is the most interesting.
It’s a little odd that this point snapped into focus tonight then, as it was one of the season’s shiniest, lightest hours right up until the last few minutes. The episode kicks off with newest pals Abby, Delia, and Phoebe running in workout gear guarantees to chafe. Abby can’t stop stressing about how she needs to revitalize her career, so Phoebe suggests that they all go to Vegas together, throwing ever the lightest amount of shade when Abby declines—but suggests inviting Lyla instead. Apparently, Phoebe hasn’t realized that she’s the least likable person in this crew, and is a little over Lyla’s copping a negative attitude every time she sends a masseuse to sexually assault her.
But Abby, everybody’s favorite, doesn’t catch the hesitation, so she just invites disliked-but-interesting Lyla along, then decides—sure, what the hell—she’ll go too. She’s had a meeting with her hungover agent who still can’t stop talking about Cleo Stevens and her new mommy advice book, in which Cleo suggests that if you forget your baby’s food because you were too busy having your six morning mimosas or whatever, just chew up some of your turkey sandwich and shove it into your child’s mouth. This is the kind of parenting advice Abby’s agent says mothers no longer want from her. So, maybe a little relaxation time in Vegas with her girlfriends will help get her creative juices flowing enough to give the people what they want.
Except what her girlfriends want is to party. Phoebe and Delia show up ready to travel with every kind of edible marijuana imaginable, and Lyla shows up just to spite Phoebe for not inviting her: “Last one in is a rotten friend!” The real catalyst for the trip, though, is that Phoebe is trying to launch her ridiculous fine jewelry for babies line and has lined up a photo shoot during the annual Babystyle Convention. When they arrive to the VIP pool deck of their hotel, everyone blazed out of their minds except for Abby, they find that the keynote speaker of the Convention is Cleo Stevens, and she’s passing out enough promotional baby bottles full of chardonnay for everybody… again, except Abby.
NEXT: Peaceful Vegas: fail; Party Vegas: double (tequila) check…
This whole Cleo Stevens thing is really starting to get to Abby. Not only has she begun reading Cleo’s book only to find that it’s basically promoting child neglect and uses lots of phrases like “mama needs wine time,” but Cleo also continues to attack Abby in the media. In other words, bitch is still trying to step to her. Finally, when Abby explodes from stress inside a spa, her friends inform her that she has to stop ruining everyone’s good time and ease up.
Abby concedes to “Party Vegas;” Abby gets tanked; Abby vomits in the bathroom of the casino. During all of this time—pool time, spa time, tank time—each other woman is dealing with stressors of their own, most notably Lyla, who’s anxiously waiting to hear the results from her home visit with the case worker. She came on the Vegas weekend to try to forget about it for a little while, but that gets harder when Phoebe leaves the blackjack table to prepare for her early morning photo shoot and Abby excuses herself because she’s drunk and losing money all over the place. That leaves Lyla with Delia, with whom she shares a mutual dislike—but they agree to try and have a little fun together.
Lyla notices a man that keeps staring at them, which could go the way of fun, but tends to go more creepy. What happens instead is just confusing: He approaches Delia, calling her “Delbar,” and Delia immediately pulls him aside. When Lyla approaches them to make sure everything is okay, the man tells Lyla that if she’s Delia’s friend she should tell her to “respect her elders, the people who sacrificed for her.” Delia hushes him and says, “He gets a check every month,” and storms away from the conversation. When Lyla has a few follow-up questions, Delia tells her it’s none of her business: “I know you think I breeze through life because I show a little leg, but you don’t know me and you don’t deserve to.” Now, that’s what I would call interesting. I’ve enjoyed the slow evolution of Delia’s character, and even if I don’t understand her, it doesn’t seem that I’m supposed to just yet.
But, Abby… Abby, I understand. Abby is in an emotional and occupational rut, and now she finds herself drunk, about to take down an entire pizza that she probably paid way too much money for, and being approached by a man named Glen who is not picking up any of her “stay the hell away from me and this pepperoni” vibes. And just as Glen is throwing out his best “I’m in town for an eyewear convention” pick-up line, a very un-Glen man shows up, grabs a slice of Abby’s pizza and pretends he’s meeting her there. Glen scampers, Abby thanks the babe, and the babe joins her for pizza. And just as the babe is saying his name is Carl-short-for-Carlos, and Abby is telling Carl he’s the best thing to happen to her all weekend, would he fancy a trip upstairs, Carl tells Abby they should “probably discuss rates.”
You know… like gigolo rates. Like, sex rates. Abby acts all affronted, like surely he couldn’t have thought someone as attractive as her might need a “companion”—but there’s never a question that she’s going to be hiring this man for something. She asks if anyone ever just pays him to talk. Or, if she paid for his time, could she write about the encounter? Suddenly, Carl is upstairs massaging Abby’s feet and listening to her talk about her Cleo-induced self-esteem slump. She knows how lame she sounds complaining about this crazy woman who’s bad-mouthing her, but she can’t help it; she cares too much what other people think about her to let it go
NEXT: Carl the sexy Republican…
And that’s where Carl steps in to earn his nomination for the Julia Roberts Hooker with a Heart of Gold Award. He says that he used to care about what other people thought of his profession, but then he started thinking about all the people he looked up to most—Axl Rose, Gandhi, George W. Bush—and he realized that “nobody truly interesting is universally liked.” Abby repeats the mantra in awe. She doesn’t have to be liked. She can be… interesting. She can write about things that every mother doesn’t approve of, she can write about divorce—hell, she can write about gigolos. And with that, I do believe we’re being granted the much more interesting “Abby’s career” b-plot for the next few episodes—which is good, because “Phoebe’s Pretend-Career” is going up in flames, or should I say, down a toddler’s throat.
Carl and Abby fall asleep fully clothed, leaving only Lyla to assist Phoebe in her baby jewelry photo shoot the next morning. Phoebe, of course, has done absolutely no research on what might go into prepping or executing a photo shoot with three infants, so in addition to yelling at Lyla when she tries to help, then yelling at Lyla that everything isn’t about her when she tries to leave, Phoebe also leaves a baby unsupervised long enough for him to choke on one of her stupid baby jewels. Then she leaves the other two babies unattended while she assures the choking baby’s mother that crying is good because it means he’s breathing, and that they can keep the baby jewels when he poops them out. I have no qualms saying the Phoebe is the worst. The Worst.
So when Abby makes it back to the hotel after paying Carl, everyone is certified furious with each other. And again, that’s much more interesting than when they’re pretending to like each other. Until Lyla gets an email—then it’s just very, very sad. The results from her home visit are complete, and it’s been decided that custody will be split 70/30 in favor of Lyla’s ex-husband. Suddenly, everyone who’s been avoiding her friendship and neglecting her issues all weekend can feel sympathy for her—but Lyla is angry. She’s finally as angry as everyone has been telling her she was for weeks. She doesn’t want to ride home with any of them, so she leaves to catch a flight. We see the other three reflecting on their various mistakes, passing around a bottle (or three) of champagne in the car back to L.A.
This means Abby at least has a little liquid comfort when she arrives back at her house to find Jake, tripping balls off something that he got from a shaman that Becca insisted they go to in order to connect more emotionally. What really happened is that they both just got high and scared, and Jake decided he had to go home. Home ended up being the house he used to share with Abby—which is how Abby finds Jake Winnie the Pooh-ing it in his wedding tuxedo, waiting for her. How does she find herself horizontal on the couch, getting jiggy with her ex-husband? Well, it might be as a result of her new Carl-inspired life motto; it might be because there are a lot of substances in Jake and Abby’s bloodstreams right now. It definitely also could be because Abby’s life is about to get a lot more interesting, and “interesting” might not be as rosy as she was imagining when she was getting her feet rubbed at $500/hour.
Just ask Lyla. Her life is very interesting right now. She arrives home (I have no idea who was keeping anyone’s children all weekend), wakes up her boys in the middle of the night, and asks them if they’d be up for packing some things and going on a little trip: “It’s going to be an adventure, okay?” I’m sorry—WHAT? Is Lyla about to steal her children? Further, I do believe Janeane Garafolo left Girlfriends’ Guide after six episodes—so is this he last we’ll actually be seeing of her? Am I going to have to listen to Phoebe explain what happened next week? Lyla, come back! I beg of you, come back!
Would you agree that things just got interesting?