This week delivered one of the better episodes of CASUAL I’ve seen. What Casual managed to do this week was focus on its character wants without getting too ahead of itself, or too self-indulgent. All of the plotlines are relatable to a certain degree and hone in on what Casual does best: exploring relationships. Although this episode spends a lot of time with romantic relationships, we also find ourselves dealing with work relationships, and personal relationships.
Often times Casual likes to bring its characters together for a big third act event, but this week focuses on the growth of the individual storylines. This choice is definitely for the better. Often times I find Casual becomes a slave to its own formula, so it’s always great to see it break free from its chains. Valerie, Alex and Laura’s plotlines all start off in similar ways – with things going well. Alex gets an interviewer at another startup, Byron wants to continue seeing Valerie, and Laura starts showing off rebel/poser Tracy at getting signatures for their job. But boy, does that hammer drop.
Alex is frustrated with his life at this point. He has thrown away his baby, Snooger, countless of times for obsessive reasons that do nothing but reflect Alex’s own flaws. As we stand, Snooger is forever gone and Alex is unemployed and on a budget. So, when Alex receives a job interview, he’s excited about the possibilities. His excitement dwindles down to a solid zero when he finds out the hip culture views him as nothing more than IT. As Alex leaves the interview, you can’t help but feel like he is a fish out of water. Not being able to do anything, or having the capital to create something new of his own, Alex is lost.
Valerie pursues her top-knot classroom boy-toy Byron, for as long as he wants to continue casually hooking up. Unfortunately for her, Byron never wanted to casually hook up. When Valerie mistakenly confuses a romantic evening for casual sex she finds herself despising Byron. He talks too much, he’s too emotional, he lacks all sense of self-awareness and he genuinely thinks that intellect and emotion are the same thing. If there’s anything we can gather from Valerie over these past three seasons, it’s that she could care less for emotion.
Alex decides to do Valerie a solid, and go out on the date with her, coincidentally having just matched with Valerie’s landlord Tina. But it’s not a double date, Val and Alex would just give each other eye cues from across the room. Unfortunately for Valerie, the her “help me” eyes don’t read, because Alex is too busy staring into Tina’s. Despite a fairly generic conversation, Tina and Alex both see exactly what they want out of each other. Alex sees Tina as this smart, passionate, attractive girl who knows what she wants. When you’re lost, nothing is more attractive than leadership. And Tina thinks she’s getting this dot-com boomer who is casually working a couple days a week and collecting huge checks. This is the image Alex portrays because he’s scared. He doesn’t want to screw this up, and so when Valerie literally approaches him, he brushes her off and goes home with Tina.
After a forty-five-minute wait for a soufflé and a bunch of martinis later, Valerie and Byron stumble out of the restaurant and into her bedroom. Finally, the casual sex Valerie was seeking. Although it’s not very casual. I mean, Byron did just take her out to dinner and drinks and picked up the check while she was in the bathroom. And, not to mention, during sex he says things like “Look at me,” and, “Can we come together?” This is not what Valerie signed up for, and so, without much hesitation, the next day she lets him know before their class. Assuming Byron is OK with it was a mistake though, because Byron takes his class performance space to muse on how Valerie broke his heart. She laughs, it’s awkward and I’m sure things will only get worse.
Alex and Tina have sex, and it’s one of those sex scenes that make you think, “Oh they’re trying to be passionate.” It’s like something you would see in a pervert’s dream of a Cameron Crowe movie. Anyways, after having sex at, I don’t know, 10pm, these guys are rudely awakened to the sound of loud music at 11pm. It’s there that Alex’s AirBnB blows his spot, while trying to be helpful. Everything is laid out on the table, and Tina is not amused. As she leaves, Alex tells her to be honest and with that she admits that him not having a job is a deal breaker. So, Alex decides to take that job in IT. Is it to specifically get Tina or is it because Alex is too afraid to ruin another moment with another perfect dating-app match? This is remained to be seen.
Laura’s plotline involves her getting woke to a kind of ridiculous extent. I never saw Laura as caring for causes, so as she tries to steal signatures from Terry (she’s all but literally taking money out of his pocket), she gets stopped by a particularly woke lady. “Do you know who’s telling you to get these signuates?” A couple of google searches later and Laura realizes she’s been helping the man monopolize natural gas. It’s this moment that leads her to lash out at Terry and quit her job, accepting an internship at this unnamed woke lady’s organizer job.
I have a hard time believing Laura will be a good organizer, but I kind of like the progression. What the woke lady doesn’t understand is that Laura doesn’t care about causes, she cares about removing the tattoo on her back. We’ve seen Laura’s propensity to steal for relatively no reason. Is this what we’re heading to?
Overall this episode delivered. It was pretty funny, and definitely interesting. Each character is making choices that directly affect their worldview. I just hope it continues.
Season 3, Episode 5 (S03E05)
Casual airs Tuesdays on Hulu
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.
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Arman Mohazzabfar | Contributor