Who Missed Stan?

In our actual lives, children are great. Okay, if I'm being honest, children are fine. When they get a bit older and can successfully participate in activities you also enjoy, like eating at nice restaurants or going to a movie rated higher than PG, they start to get fun. But until then, even the best parents will admit if pressed that hanging out with their kids, while fulfilling on a macro level, is sort of boring day to day. And kids on sitcoms are the boringest kids of all.

The recent Mindy Project episode "Bunk Bed" revolved around Mindy (Mindy Kaling) inviting her best friend Gwen (Anna Camp) to come into New York from the suburbs and stay with Mindy for the weekend, conveniently forgetting that Gwen now comes with an entourage in the form of her young daughter Riley (Avriella Ford). And while I remain annoyed that the titular bunk beds Mindy erected to accommodate Riley suddenly disappeared before the next episode (WHERE DID THE BUNK BEDS GO, MINDY?!) I appreciate the show's willingness to risk putting Mindy in the position of being tarred with all the accusations that can be thrown at women who don't have children and don't want them -- that they're cold, unfeminine, unfeeling, etc. It's okay for Mindy to want to hang out with her friend, and it's okay for her to get the opportunity to learn how to incorporate Riley in their fun, even if she has to learn that lesson slightly against her will. And if Camp's demotion from series regular to recurring means that we never see Riley again, that's okay too. The thing about seeing Stan Torres (Griffin Kunitz) in last night's Cougar Town is that we will see him again. Bleh.

The thing about Stan is not just that he's a kid, because whatever, he can't help that. But the age he's at now does not make for compelling TV. He can't really deliver lines reliably or deliver a performance. See also: the execrable Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who (barely) plays Lily on Modern Family. "So can't he just come back in a few years? When he's, like, eight?" I'd rather not. That's around the time that child actors start to learn dramatic or comedic tricks that are going to get them further in the business by being totally insufferable. Case in point: this little puke. And I should stress that I don't condone punching a child under any circumstances, even though this smug dick could probably use it. (I'm just kidding. Let's find his parents and punch them for making this happen.) Stan just gums up the works of the joke delivery machine that is Cougar Town, and he doesn't even have the decency to be cute while he's doing it.

"But Stan's parents are on the show every week and barely acknowledge Stan -- shouldn't we get periodic reminders that he exists?" Why must real life intrude upon the Cul-de-Sac Crew in the form of a curly-haired toddler? If we've heard tell of Stan, we know that means Ellie (Christa Miller Lawrence) and Andy (Ian Gomez) are parents, which will inform some of the decisions they make as characters. But that doesn't mean that we need to see Stan or have him interact with the show's regular cast. It's not like we needed to see Maris on Frasier for references to her to define the character of her sometime husband, Niles (David Hyde Pierce)! Stan could have been Cougar Town's Maris.

Also, lest we forget, Stan was the one who broke Big Carl, so I don't know why he hasn't been banished to another state.

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