CASUAL Review: “Cake Walk”

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For the first time, I laughed watching . Which is saying something, because usually I can do nothing but take Casual’s humor to the face like a boxer. But yeah, this episode was pretty funny at times, but really self-indulgent during the course of everything else. There were realizations I was happy to see for some characters, while others just seemed more lost, and in many ways, this felt almost like a filler episode. Sure, Alex and Judy’s plotline took a huge leap, and we (finally) received some hesitation in Valerie’s crash course guide to life, but outside of that nothing really stood as necessary.

I’m not a fan of the “3 weeks earlier” trope, and so when this episode kicked off with like that, I was apprehensive from the start. But, when I was able to push the framework aside, the episode really came together, especially Alex’s plotline. Alex and Judy play off of each other well, and though it does kind of gross me out how similar they act, it also works. Especially when the two of them run into Jack and Valerie and the scene plays like an unstoppable force facing off against an unmovable object. What I mean is that Val and Alex are both equally disgusted to see each other in their particular circumstance. Valerie is sweaty and just coming off of a hike with her boyfriend, and Alex is playing husband and dad to Judy and her kid. They both want to know so much about the other person, so they force a dinner date on each other, in three weeks’ time. The thing is, the time frame is not important whatsoever. It’s not like the inbetween shape’s any emotional decision during this family gathering. Valerie and Alex act just as they would have ten weeks ago. But the framework, I guess.

Alex and Judy “plan” to have sex that afternoon while her kid is at a friend’s house. This is the life Alex signed himself up for. He’s excited, because he likes her, but because it’s so planned he treats it like an interview and over prepares himself. He shaves off all his pubes. And he’s not feeling great about it. He asks Ray, who at this point is just “one of the boys,” to take a look and she laughs at him. As Ray downplays it, saying, “It’ll be dark, they’ll be drunk, he’ll be fine,” we enter the funniest moment in Casual history: an overly anxious and regretful Alex cutting her off with, “Ray it’s gonna be 4pm and we’re gonna be sober!” Their lives are so lame.

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If you thought Alex’s manscaping would play a major role, like making him impotent throughout the entire episode, then congratulations, you write for Casual. It doesn’t make sense to me. I would get it if Judy started laughing at him, or was like, “Whoa, are you a freak,” or called 911, but she’s cool with it! Multiple times, different days, scenarios and everything else, she’s cool with it! But Casual always does this kind of stuff with Alex, they give him brief moments of insanity and label it as narcissism. It’s a dangerous road, and when compared to the other diseases portrayed in the show, it’s the most ridiculous, save for Laura’s alcoholism.

Laura is an alcoholic, but will never say it and no one will ever press her on it, because she’s also a crushoholic and that is more important. The thing is, I get it. Have you been attracted to someone that you knew you shouldn’t be and you didn’t want to be? Now multiply that feeling by a hundred and you have Laura. So, I get why she tends to drink. What I don’t get is why Casual handles it the way they do. It looks like they literally wrote out a plotline and then said, “Yeah this is good, but where’s the Juno?” I’m torn because in some ways, this is absolutely Laura’s destiny, to become Juno, a wisecracking pregnant teen who has coded conversations with the bodega guy. But also, Laura’s not like this, she’s a real character, with real feelings, and real growth. So, when Laura does indeed have a bodega conversation, followed by riding the bus with a store-bought cake between her legs, and ending her plotline singing Fleetwood Mac as Judy’s kid holds a flashlight to a discoball, I guess I can just be thankful that it’s not the Moldy Peaches.

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Valerie’s plotline, for the most part, is idiotic. The only viable emotion she finally feels can be best broken down as, “Oh wow, I just sent my sex addicted (boy)friend into remission.” But then it makes her act straight irrational. Like they go to a spa together and the whole time she’s worried about the possibility that Jack will get a HJ, better known as a “happy ending.” Honestly, we need to talk about this. It makes no sense why Valerie would be TORN UP about a “happy ending” when if anything she should know that with Jack it’s the most meaningless sexual act he could partake in. I’m not condoning happy endings, I’m just saying it has the emotional depth of having sex with a prostitute with way less scrutiny. This is not a fact, but I will say it like a fact: half of the relationships in Beverly Hills are fueled on casual happy endings. But I guess this isn’t good enough for Valerie, and she has to have a mini panic attack about it, even though this is all her fault. This is a common thread with Valerie, the idea that she’s a therapist who can’t look at her own life or the people around her. It’s this same reason why she confronts Jack about his UAE business trip, and why she’s particularly mean to Alex during their destined dinner party. This whole season, Valerie has been the least grounded character with no substance to any of her choices. And I could understand if she was supposed to be the “fun one” this season “getting into hijinks,” but having sex with a guy in a committed relationship and sending someone you care for into emotional remission are not hijinks.

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Anyways after Valerie hypes up her step-brother (that she in-truth hated) to Alex, this causes something to trigger in his penis, and he has sex with Judy in his parked car in front of his sister’s place. My early season prediction that Alex and Valerie are going to hook up, I don’t want to say it’s more-or-less likely, but the signs are there, guys. The signs are there.

TB-TV-Grade-C+

Season 3, Episode 10 (S03E10)
Casual airs Tuesdays on Hulu

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Arman is a Seattle-based writer who often lives in LA and wants to be in New York. He has worked on Billy on The Street and Black-ish. He also loves sandwiches.
Follow Arman on Twitter: @armanbfar
Keep up with all of Arman’s reviews here.

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Still quiet here.sas

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