Screens: USA Network

Playing House Reminds Us That 'It's Too Bad You Can't Come!' Isn't Actually An Invitation

Rabbi Dan learns a tough lesson about the sanctity of a girl's weekend.

When it comes to the matter of who's more to blame for Dan's dropping in on Emma and Maggie's girls' lake house weekend, reasonable people can disagree, as long as anyone who thinks it's at all Maggie's fault pretty quickly leaves the argument, and then society. Because come on.

Sure: there are some who will point to the scene in the cold open, next to the car, as evidence that Maggie has some complicity in causing the episode's main conflict. Maggie and Emma are excitedly raving about the house where they spent so many of their childhood summers -- Maggie more than Emma, perhaps, since Emma's the one in the new relationship and she's getting all handsy with her man while she still can. "I'm jealous, I love being in the woods!" says Dan pleasantly. "It's too bad you can't come," Maggie replies. It's not "too bad you couldn't get out of your obligations" or "too bad we didn't give you enough notice to join us." One might even read it as "You can't come, which is too bad for you," because that is actually the reality of Dan's situation. He can't come!

Maybe this is the first time Dan's ever dated a woman who has a really close friend -- so close she'd make it a point to block off time and make child care arrangements so they could harmonize in the car on the way to their destination and give each other smoky-eye makeovers upon arrival. Maybe, because he is a man of the cloth, he has no experience with people offering him bland sentiments they don't really mean because he's held up their departures long enough and they just need to say something so that the interaction can end and they can leave his company -- see also Maggie's reacting to Dan's sudden appearance on a FaceTime chat when she's in her "tankini two-piece" by telling him (with an eye-roll only partially masked by...her mask), "Hi Dan. Wish you were here." These are real and conjectural reasons why Dan decides it's a good idea to crash Emma and Maggie's weekend; they are not excuses. There is no excuse. What he did is inexcusable.

To be fair, part of the blame for his staying as long as he does -- until Emma and Maggie also leave -- falls to Emma as well. It's all well and good for her to be tickled that he'd make such a gesture: that's what the flirty early going of a relationship is for -- that and boning, which they also do, to "Two Princes," which is almost as unacceptable as Dan's showing up at all. But Emma should not have let him stay longer than one glass of the wine he brought -- or, if he got there really late, past breakfast the next day at most. It's horrible of Emma to make Maggie have to explain to her why this time together is so special to her; the two of them may be together all the time, but this is Maggie's chance -- the first since Charlotte's birth, even, maybe -- to recapture a sense of what her life was like before the maintenance of another human being's life became her top priority. Moms need to goof off too, and Emma should have known better than to let Dan encroach on the experience she and Maggie had planned.

The worst thing about Dan descending on the lake house and stomping all over it with his giant man feet -- and his giant man hands, in the case of Maggie's jigsaw puzzle -- is that his total lack of sensitivity to Maggie's feelings makes him tantamount to a Custerman.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

What kind of man wouldn't get that he's not wanted or welcome? One of these jags -- and, apparently, Dan.

Because this is mostly a show about decent people behaving decently, everything gets smoothed over in the end (though one senses Maggie may forgive but never forget), and Dan even gets to be the Kimmewah Kup hero by telling Emma that, despite what the Custermans told her and Maggie, their dad is very much alive and proudly attending the race. I just hope the whole mess has helped him to learn a lesson he'll be able to take with him for the rest of his life, because it's really important.

Photo: Fox

Photo: Fox

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