This week’s SUPERIOR DONUTS is my least favorite episode of the series so far. It wasn’t as egregiously bad or tonally awkward as other episodes. It was something even worse: boring. The jokes on this show often fall flat, but this week, it’s like they weren’t even trying to be funny. Franco encourages Arthur to go on a date with Helen, Randy’s mother whose visiting from Florida. Meanwhile, Fawz grows suspicious after finding a $600 check made out to Tush that he hasn’t cashed despite having it for weeks.
Fawz decides that Tush must be a prostitute, as Tush has never shied away from discussing his demeaning “gigs” before, so the fact that he doesn’t want to talk about this mysterious check must been he’s doing something really awful. When he finds a book of matches from a fancy hotel in Tush’s pocket, he takes it as all the proof he needs. Fawz, a character who’s been painted as the epitome of selfishness and self-interest, actually tries to help Tush, giving him a brochure about “getting out of the game”. When Tush realizes what Fawz suspects, he comes clean about the money.
The check is an alimony payment from his ex-wife. When they divorced, she made more money than him, so she’s been paying him alimony. However, this is the last check she’s sending and Tush doesn’t want to turn over the last thing connecting him to her to the bank. Why the alimony payments are randomly stopping isn’t explained, but this subplot also asks us to relate emotionally to Tush, who’s only been used for comedic relief and dropping in groan-worthy jokes. It’s a sharp pivot to make him depressed over the end of his marriage, which I believe he’s only mentioned him once before.
Fawz offers to take him to the bank so he can be his moral support while he catches it. Fawz has never seemed to really care about the rest of the characters before, so it’s a bit hard to believe that he’d offer to help Tush simply because he feels bad for him. I kept expecting him to reveal that he’ll accompany him for a fee or something, but he never does. Fawz holds his hand, then refuses to let go, as in Iraq, the man who lets go of a handshake is the weaker one. Tush refuses to let go as well. The comedic timing of this bit is off, so this scene mainly felt awkwardly long.
At Franco’s urging, Arthur asks Helen to watch a hockey game at a bar with him. Franco goes out on his date, with a girl named Nadine. He takes Nadine back to Arthur’s place after he realizes that he left his phone there while he was helping him try on outfits for the date, only to walk in on Arthur and Helen being intimate. The next day, Franco encourages Arthur to text Helen and ask her out again. However, Helen responds by saying that their night together was a mistake and she doesn’t want to see him again.
Franco goes to confront Helen, asking her why she “ghosted” Arthur. He then goes on to explain what ghosting is incorrectly. Come on. If you’re going to pander to millennials by using their slang, at least get it right. Helen did not ghost Arthur—if she ghosted him, she would have simply never replied to the text, then gone out of her way to avoid him. To ghost means to disappear completely with no explanation. Instead, she wrote him a thoughtful text, even signing it “sincerely”. It may seem like a little thing for this reviewer to get annoyed by, but it demonstrates the laziness of the writing on this show.
Helen isn’t ready to date anyone. She’s not over the death of her husband. Arthur accepts this and encourages Franco and Randy to spend more time worrying about their own lives instead of getting involved with his. Arthur signs up for a dating app, unaware that the one he chose, Grindr, is aimed at gay men. And so the episode ends, with a tired gay joke. It’s hard to believe that this show got renewed for a second season already.
Season 1, Episode 9 (S01E09)
Superior Donuts airs Monday at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor