Cancel your plans!
Don’t actually. That’s the theme of the episode, and it’s front and center from the jump. The first sketch is basically a PSA starring Bryce and Lisa about why if you don’t want to do something you planned, you cancel it! That’s why texting was invented so your parents can get your plans canceled immediately and not have to waste time going there, or phoning. The sketch is clever enough, but it wore out its welcome after a while. What was clever and inspired was the subtext about Lisa getting with someone else, while Bryce is stuck putting the pieces together.
Escape rooms are fun, but what happens when you take escape rooms too seriously, you get this sketch. Two survivalists face off against (team up with?) two regular ass people after the regular ass people’s friends canceled at the last minute. The sketch gets a bit predictable where the survivalists begin as leaders, end up being a panicked mess, and the regular ass people end up solving it themselves. The really go for it on both extremes, and you got to commend them for that, but this sketch kind of underwhelmed me.
Next we have the men’s rights activists Drew and Andy, in front of a camera, to say that they are coming out as swearing off women. They are heterosexually coming out as not wanting women. Fitting in the theme of canceling their plans with being with women. Every time I see these guys, I’m always amazed with Carries performance as Andy. Not just the fact that Carrie plays a guy well (I mean, Kids in the Hall play women convincingly all the time), but the subtleties in her performance, which tells me there is so much more happening with that character that we’re not seeing. It’s so funny just seeing Andy react, and think about things. Carrie is such a good actress that it’s a shame that we don’t see her in more things.
Joey goes to a therapist, not quite understanding what a therapist is. He seems to know the words for therapist terms (all having to do with sex), and starts explaining them in the weirdest ways. I’m not quite sure what the point of the sketch was, but the back and forth banter of Joey explaining weird sexual acts, and the therapist trying to stop him had me laughing a while.
We then have, possibly the nights best sketch, at least the most thought out. Doug has had his drums stolen and is missing them something fierce. Claire gives him the idea that he should get another drum set the way most people do! By holding a fundraiser. He gets his musical friend to be the band, and earns enough money to get another set of drums, and thus ends the sketch… until Doug rips his favorite pants. Doug throws another benefit to fix his favorite pants, and then gets some ink, and so on. Portlandia thrives on living in “Reality+” land, meaning they are based on reality, but some things are always a little bit more than reality, and this is a good example. They way they casually throw benefits, and always succeed fun to watch.
Finally, the through line of the night, “No, Thank You.” Rachel Bloom (from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) is looking for a boyfriend, but unfortunately, tinder isn’t working out. What’s worse is that Fred and Carrie believe that she’s too good for everyone who comes up on tinder. They decide to hire an artist to draw the perfect man, but ends up drawing himself. They end up doing a hacking parody, where she uses a team to find the perfect tinder date. What makes the sketch work is everything these characters miss. The general trust in a system to work to loose focus on opportunism around you is wonderful. I love the end of the sketch. It’s got a twist that may be a little cheap, but it’s filled with such weirdness. Basically, Rachel is left married with 3 kids, and Fred and Carrie end up dating every one of the other prospects at the same time.
This wasn’t my favorite episode of the season so far. They are masters of being weird, but somehow, this episode tries a bit too hard at that. It’s still a good episode, but there was nothing that would make a first-time watcher stick around. It’s not enough to call this a bad episode, but I’m still disappointed by its basicness.