It's not always easy being Bert and Ernie
Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

We’re back from Detroit to hazy Los Angeles. Alex and Brett have flipped roles from the first season — this time it’s Brett who sleeps at Alex’s house and Alex who makes him coffee. These guys are really the cutest couple ever. You know who isn’t as into them? My girl Christy. She takes the two of them in, talking about Dune like middle schoolers and calls them Bert and Ernie (just like that other cool girl, Kennedy, did last week!).

Over at Michelle’s, Tina is pitching in by helping with childcare. She’s sort of gum-chewing, coffee-drinking distracted about it all and only half-listens when her sister tells her nap times and how to get dinner started. Meanwhile, Sophie is totally beginning to act out — she even tries to bury Michelle’s car keys in the dirt. When Michelle presses her, Sophie pulls out her ace: “Why isn’t Daddy sleeping in your bed?” Yeow.

So Michelle goes and meets Brett for coffee. And yeah, this is very bad times. Brett is pulling a move I very much admire and is hard to pull off: chillingly polite disaffection. She tries to break through and have some real talk, but he swats away all attempts, and then his rage starts to show. He can barely spit out that he doesn’t want to be told when to discuss things and he’d like to keep it to just logistics, thank you very much. He’s also informs her he’s taken a job driving for Uber so he can mindlessly think about he and Alex’s show and his new life. Michelle notices that he took off his wedding ring and is quietly (and powerfully) devastated. (Side note: “The Lynskey” should be shorthand for any quiet yet powerful bit of acting.)

After all that, Michelle seems overwhelmed at her charter school meeting, and that’s when a very competent-looking woman offers to help with crowd-sourcing. This chick, Anna, is very Cameron Diaz-y and fresh faced and energetic. Afterward, the women bond, and Anna offers to help in general, and Michelle looks ready to burst into happy tears.

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Tina’s day as a stay-at-home mom is not going great. She gets into it with a very annoying traffic guard in the carpool lane. It all comes down to a lanyard which is just the kind of thing frustrated people with small amounts of power get all worked up about, and she refuses to be human to Tina, who is trying not to wake the sleeping baby. But in the end, she wins, so Tina has to wake up Frankie and run through the halls in her too-tight T-shirt with a screaming baby, and it all looks rather terrible.

And things just get worse! In the car, the baby is still screaming, Sophie spills things everywhere and tells Tina she’s a bad driver. At home, Sophie asks for help with the orange juice and then watches it spill all over the place. There’s ambient screaming baby and now this orange juice mess, and Tina is frazzled. And just as things hit an absolute fever pitch of terrible, she slips and falls, hard, bringing Sophie down with her. There’s a scary moment when everyone is crying. Tina loses it and screams, “I mean…you’ve GOT to be kidding me!” But then something amazing happens: She starts to laugh. Sophie and the baby, too. Did Tina just hit rock bottom and come out on the other side? She dances in the juice and jokes about her expensive shoes.

Across town, Christy drives Alex to work. She offers to pick him up, but, of course, Brett, his real main man, is already on it. Christy is struggling to maintain her hey-dude-totally-everything-is-cool vibe. She jokes about Alex and Brett being lovers but not at all in a funny way, and I guess this is what it looks like when even a super hot woman is feeling insecure and displaced? She clings to her cover and tells him to go do his thing.

NEXT: The unbearable lightness of being Tina

At work, Alex is running lines when there’s a hilarious switch-up: His cheeseball bro producer (broducer) tells him he’s no longer a vampire; he’s a pimp. It’s a good thing, see? And no, it doesn’t matter that they already shot three episodes, they can fix everything in voiceover! (Ever get the feeling the Duplass boys have had some, uh, challenges working in Hollywood?)

Next we get a nice little montage of time passing: Michelle having lunch with charter school friends; Tina picking up the kids with the lanyard; Brett driving his Uber passenger but secretly listening to Dune. We see him dropping the kids off with Michelle and how painful it is between them. We see Tina bathed in a decidedly maternal glow as she hangs with the kids in the park.

When she arrives home, happy, she tells Larry she’s enjoying this new gig and is in love with her nephew. Larry, with the spooky Spidey-sense all men who really don’t want to have children possess, is suddenly alert. They fly headfirst into a conversation that neither of them are ready to have: that maybe she would change her mind one day and would that be so horrible? Larry is careful, pointing out that it goes against everything she’s ever said or did. She gets angry. Really angry, and storms off while Larry is still trying to catch up.

Alex and Brett are out on the town and having a great time. Alex is finally honest that Hollywood isn’t always what he thought it would be (Brett cheers). They talk about their Dune puppets and melange. (This is what they’re talking about! Nerds!) And Brett talks about Michelle and how mad he is and how his heart and mind flip and change every five minutes. They come home in great spirits and full of spirits and then there is Christy, and, oh boy, she is not laughing. She’d apparently called a bunch of times to let Alex know she had the night off, but he hadn’t checked his phone.

She says, with an odd look on her face, “So anyway, I was calling because I was thinking we should probably f— tonight?” Jeeze, Christy! Both Brett and Alex just sort of blink at her, and she goes on to announce that she will be having an orgasm in the next ten minutes and it’s up to Alex to decide if he wants to be a part of it. Christy! A shero for our times.

After she stomps off, Alex turns to Brett and says, “I really want to keep talking about Dune, but I think I have to go have sex with my girlfriend.” And then these guys laugh and laugh, and let me tell you, if I were Christy and I just made that speech and was in my bathroom waiting for him to pull it together, I would absolutely choose not to have sex with Alex after hearing all that male laughter. Just saying.

Over at Michelle’s, Tina is taking refuge. She tries to wake her sister up, but she gives up on that and heads to the couches, and what do you know, Brett is asleep across the way. Brett is being nice and asks what is wrong. She explains that she’s hurt that Larry thinks she’d be a bad mother and what does it mean to have someone think that about you. Tina is, perhaps, as vulnerable as we’ve ever seen her and says, sadly, “You would never be with somebody that you thought that about.” She goes on to say that sometimes she feels that it’s not going to happen for her, all the things that she thought were going to happen aren’t. (This is, some might say, the hardest part of getting older, seeing paths and doorways and possibilities start to disappear.)

Brett sits up. He says, very seriously, “I think you’re a frighteningly tenacious person, and I think that if you decided you wanted to be a mom, you’d probably be pretty great at it.”

Honestly? This whole scene is very moving and very, very sweet considering what’s happening with him and Michelle. Family. They come through sometimes, right?

Episode Recaps

The Duplass brothers take their talents to HBO, where their sitcom explores the lives of four adults under one roof. Think of it as Girls for the middle-aged.
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