Man Seeking Woman
Season 1, Episode 8- “Branzino”
Air Date: March 4, 2015
I enjoy how this deep into the season Man Seeking Woman doesn’t bother with a somewhat normal introduction into the episode, instead opting to go straight for the surreal. The episode kicks off with Josh coming back to his apartment with the mail, which is full of letters from a supposed admissions process for dating. The girlfriend admissions process is something that I could totally go for. I feel like my strong resume as well as my writing skills would somehow translate better to a written application to the current process of meeting someone randomly at whatever social gathering I happen to be at. As you can tell, my opinion of my own game is terrible. As a logical extension, I thought what something like early decision or even a waiting list would actually translate to an application driven dating world. As someone who’s about to dive into that process again, I was both humored, terrified (the dreaded polite rejection letter), and again reminded that you only need one yes.
Rachel, the only girl who he got an acceptance letter from, actually isn’t that bad of a prospect, even though Josh has to painfully pretend that he loves everything that she likes. The honeymoon period of a relationship is something everyone has either experienced first-hand, or more likely has seen a friend of theirs who has newly discovered someone go through. It is a brutal time of forced delusion that people go through because finally, they found someone who they think completes them. This of course, leads straight into the madness of introducing someone to your parents three weeks into a relationship.
Introducing a significant other to your parents any time before a month has passed in a relationship is madness. I love my parents dearly, but my lovelife and my family life are two separate realms which I like to keep from one another. The only time I’ll breach the divide is when I know it’s serious and it’s going to go somewhere, which you definitely can’t tell after three weeks. The mom talk show bit didn’t land as well as I think it could, but it was saved by the late night band (comprised of Josh’s mom’s new squeeze) and the seemingly insignificant fact that it’s a real dinner party and not a potluck, that wins the mother over. I can’t tell you how incredibly true this is, at least for me. My friends are all good people, but my mother always adores them or doesn’t care for them due to some random fact that she remembers during talking to them, which brings me to the dinner party.
In college, I lived with four other guys. One day, one of my roommates stumbled facefirst into a relationship. Living in close quarters with one guy in a relationship and three single college aged dudes is a recipe for awkwardness, which of course, became magnified when my roommate’s girlfriend decided to throw a dinner party, neither inviting nor notifying the rest of us. What ended up happening was two couples eating at the dining room table, while about ten feet away, the three of us were playing Halo 3 on the Xbox 360. Supreme awkwardness, which is why I abhor dinner parties on principle. Josh and Rachel’s is no better, just pretention and “adulthood”. The stark contrast to which is Mike.
Prior to this episode, I didn’t think Mike was that terrible of a guy, but then came this full blown example of douchebaggery. Playing with your food is generally frowned upon, but taking the fish which is the main course and doing a one man puppet show is just a bit more extreme than that. Timing how fast you can chug wine certainly does help either. Mike is a one-man wrecking crew to the attempted civility that is the dinner party. Due to my prior experience, I was actually half rooting for Mike, but his behavior was just too much, and the subsequent portrayal of him as a wayward dog is great, mainly because it leads to the best part of the episode, the Bro Pound.
When Josh needs to finally get rid of Mike, because of his newfound love of Rachel, Josh has to find someone to take care of Mike, and where else do you go except to drop him off? At the pound. You obviously just can’t set the bros of the world free in the wild, that’s just irresponsible. They would breed irresponsibly, and who would control them? Mike, lured by the prospect of Salsa Verde Doritos and the latest Call of Duty, is placed in a cell where he can live for thirty days, till they can find him a new friend. Of course, what Josh doesn’t realize immediately is that if Mike doesn’t find a friend within that time, Mike will be euthanized. As they say, when a bro “can’t pound Patron and mad sloppy gash, sometimes the best option is death”. Josh reluctantly agrees, until he actually sees a bro being euthanized, and then he goes back to lead a massive exodus (broxodus?) to the nearest strip club, releasing the formerly impounded bros into their natural habitat.
Now, Mike free, Josh and Rachel decide to take the next step and become conjoined, and who are we to judge, none of us of course have ever known a love like theirs. Their relationship is unique, their love transcends all other relationships, and of course, that relationship condescension is the worst fucking part being friends with part of an annoying couple. Of course, because this is Man Seeking Woman, the series hits the reset button and Josh is single again by the end, torn apart, and with Mike observing the female form.
Branzino is a stellar episode that exemplifies what makes Man Seeking Woman so unique in the TV landscape which is currently populated by so many overused tropes and formulaic writing. I hope that with the second season renewal the creative team can keep going in this strong direction and perspective on modern love.