It’s the fourth episode of SUPERIOR DONUTS, but according to the characters on the show, Franco and Arthur have only been working together for two weeks. Time isn’t clearly delineated on this show. Neither is the relationship between Arthur and Franco, which swings from boss/employee to surrogate son/father and back again each episode. The rhythms of the episodes are repetitive, but the relationship between Arthur and Franco is inconsistent. Four episodes in, and it still doesn’t seem like the writers know what type of show they want this to be.
This week, Franco gets annoyed when he realizes that Arthur doesn’t trust him enough to walk to the bank and deposit the cash from register. Last week, it seemed like the two were very close. Franco worried about Arthur’s safety and was incredibly persistent in getting him to take measures to protect himself and the store. This week, the two seem like distant adversaries. The rocky relationship between the two leads is mildly frustrating, but what’s really annoying is how the show tries to be edgy. Franco mentions that he smokes weed a lot this episode, and each time it felt like the writers trying desperately to prove that this guy is cool. I mean, he smokes weed and does graffiti. Can’t get much hipper than that!
Everyone at the store wants Arthur to trust Franco with this responsibility. Randy thinks Franco just looks trustworthy, while Maya chimes in and tells Arthur that she’s studying sociology/psychology/gender studies and that there’s three reasons why he might not trust Franco—the generational divide, unconscious bias, or it’s a race thing. Fawz supports Arthur, but he’s so paranoid about employee theft that he runs his travel agency like a Columbian drug lord, i.e., he makes his workers work in their underwear so they can’t steal. It’s an odd joke, but the show doesn’t have a real take on Fawz’s character. He’s just comic relief.
Besides Randy, every single minor character so far has only been used for comic relief. Randy is occasionally the voice of reason, which like being the comic relief, is more of a function than a personality. Arthur and Franco remain the only semi-developed characters on the show. Arthur eventually gets tired of everyone being involved in his business, so he gives Franco an envelope of money to take the bank, telling him that there’s $700 in it. Franco takes his newfound responsibility very seriously, but as soon as he walks out the door, he’s mugged. Franco tries to fight him off, but “Crackhead Kevin”, as the character is named, has “crackhead strength” and takes the backpack.
Franco tells Arthur that he was mugged, which instantly makes him feel guilty. Not just because Franco was hurt, but because Arthur lied about the amount of money in the envelope. It was only $30. He decided to trust Franco, but not completely. Not wanting to let Franco know that he risked his life for 30 bucks, Arthur tries to brush the incident off. But Franco has already called the police, so Randy and James show up. They all seem to know “Crackhead Kevin”, as he’s part of a crackhead family. All of the jokes about crackheads this episode felt uncomfortably racially tinged.
Arthur comes clean to Franco about the amount of money in the envelope, so Franco gets very angry. He’s used to not being trusted because he’s young and black, but he thought Arthur was different. Arthur desperately tries to appease Franco, insisting that he trusts him, even trying to force him into doing trust falls. Arthur finally tells Franco that the reason that he was reluctant to trust him is because Franco is only the second employee he’s ever had. He worked with his wife for 46 years before him. He opens up his heart to Franco, as well as his safe, giving him the combination. The two are close again, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how their relationship will be next week.
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
Superior Donuts airs Monday at 9PM on CBS
Jennifer Trofa | Contributor