SUPERIOR DONUTS delivered a dull episode heavy on sentimentality and light on jokes. Encouraged by Arthur, Franco and Sweatpants visit an art gallery down the street in hopes of getting his work shown there. Everyone at the donut shop thinks he’s amazingly talented, even though his main piece is a painting of black Jesus riding a skateboard…I thought someone was going to joke about how ridiculous the painting was, but they all sincerely act like it’s high art. Everyone except the gallery owner, that is, who tells Franco he’s too inexperienced to have his own show.
Once again encouraged by Arthur, Franco decides to hold his own show at the donut shop. His friends all tell him how great he is, but he’s not satisfied. He claims that he can still hear the voice of his disapproving father in his head. Turns out the voice isn’t just in his head–Arthur tracked down Franco’s father Reggie (Cedric the Entertainer), who he hasn’t spoken to in two years, and slipped a flier underneath his door. Reggie finally tells Franco that he’s proud of him, but he’s not referring to the art show. Reggie is proud that Franco has a real job working at the donut shop, as he doesn’t think he can make a living as an artist.
Cedric the Entertainer is a very funny actor, but this episode doesn’t give him any jokes. He’s here to play the role of the gruff, disapproving father. It seems like a waste of the man’s comedic talents. Arthur stands up for Franco, telling him that he believes in him and he supports his journey to become an artist. Franco realizes that Arthur is the supportive father figure he never had. It’s a sweet moment, but not particularly revelatory. Franco and Arthur have had a father/son-like relationship for the majority of the season. It’s cheap sentimentality, designed to tug at the audience’s heartstrings as the writers seem to have decided that’s easier than writing actual jokes.
Meanwhile, the other donut shop patrons team up to try to get the gallery owner to check out the show. Fawz and Tush head over there, but are thrown off when the gallery owner assumes that they’re a couple. We get a standard scene where both insist that if they were gay, they could do much better than the other. It’s a lazy joke that has been used in countless sitcoms before, but Fawz does get one good line. He tells Tush, who’s wearing one his old suits, that he looks like Dolly Parton’s bodyguard. Needless to say, they don’t convince the gallery owner to go down to the donut shop.
Next up is Randy and James, which quickly devolves into an uncomfortable scene where Randy accuses the gallery owner of being anti-cop because her show includes a painting of a cop hugging a pig. For some reason, the writers have doubled down on this character trait of hers. She’ll fiercely defend the police against any perceived slights, without ever once addressing the fact that some people have valid reasons to distrust law enforcement. It’s hard to laugh or get behind Randy’s statements when just this week news broke that police in Dallas shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards while he was peacefully trying to leave a party. This scene was so tone deaf, so out of touch, so unnecessary, and so, so painfully unfunny.
The gallery owner eventually checks out Franco’s show after Maya convinces her to come by promising to go on a date with her. She doesn’t think that Franco’s work is ready to be shown at her gallery yet, but she does think that he has potential. Yay?
Next week is the season finale. I’ve given up on hoping for a truly funny episode of this show, so instead I’ll just hope there aren’t any weird political tangents. Superior Donuts has consistently proven itself to be ill-equipped to talk about real-world issues in a nuanced way, which is disappointing considering that it was billed as CBS’s push into diversity.
Season 1, Episode 12 (S01E12)
Superior Donuts airs Monday at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor