They're all gone. Some for good (The Office), others just for the summer (Parks & Recreation), but the Thursday-night sitcoms we welcomed into our home every week for an entire school year are no longer there for us. In their place are the burnoffs: The Goodwin Games. Family Tools. Save Me.
Now in its second week, Save Me is sort of a cross between My Name Is Earl and Enlightened, with a dash of Touched By An Angel (...probably? No one who watched it is still alive to confirm or deny). Not an awful premise: alcoholic Anne Heche (the best kind of Anne Heche) has a near-death experience that somehow grants her the ability to communicate with God, or at least channel his wishes. And you think, "Oh, boy -- this is gonna get wacky!" But on the spectrum of wackiness, all the featured Words of God so far have been downright mundane. In the pilot, Heche's Beth encouraged her friend to perform oral sex on her husband. Okay! Later she managed to send her husband's mistress into a coma via lightning strike, which admittedly sounds cool on paper, but the way it went down was so…telegraphed. In Episode 2, God told Beth to get rid of an espresso machine.
What I'm saying is this: you've got a show in which your lead character has direct access to the guidance/wisdom of GOD, and you're not taking that to its most absurd extreme? Forget this "be a better person" nonsense -- the only way Save Me lasts beyond this trial month is if it gets WILD, quick. And I've got some ideas.
1. God Just Wants To Party
The Bible version of God is so done to death. "Thou shalt not blah blah blah" -- we've seen this guy time and again, always with the rules. Why can't God be our ne'er-do-well cousin or old fraternity brother, ready to CUT LOOSE at the word "go"? Just imagine all the hijinks God and Beth would get into! Instead of encouraging her to make amends with old friends she'd wronged, God would be planting the idea to TP their front lawns or steal their identities. Every sixth episode or so, God could have a moment of reflection and realize he "has to grow up," but it would happen so incrementally that you'd never felt the show was forcing it. 300-episode run.
2. God Is Actually Satan
Because I'm already deep into the mythology of this show, I can point to a moment in the second episode, "Take it Back," when one of Beth's husband's friends suggests that this "God" she's hearing might actually be Lucifer in disguise. Is this the key to the whole show? The Christian God pundits are always lecturing us about wouldn't encourage Beth to spread the Word of oral sex? (Sounds like the man DOWNstairs.) Because Satan is all about deception, it would be easy to go multiple episodes laboring under the idea that the messages were from God. But every so often he'd sneak in something awful, like "Straight-up murder your husband," and we'd really start to question just who was pulling the strings. Every show could use a great mystery, especially one so Biblical.
3. God Is Anne Heche's Brain Synapses Firing in All Directions As She Dies
Remember that movie Phenomenon, where John Travolta had some transcendent moment with a beam of light that made him super-smart but eventually turned out just to be a brain tumor or something? That, but here. Turns out Beth really did die choking on a sandwich, and the duration of the show takes place in the minutes before she crosses over, during which her brain churns out an elaborate spiritual-reconciliation plot. This first season ends with the revelation that she was dying all along…before she spits up the sandwich and gets a second chance at life. Then Season 2 can be exactly like the first, but for real. What, you like elliptical editing and reused footage on Arrested Development but not here? Don't be such a snob.
4. God is Morgan Freeman
This is not so much a show-wide overhaul as a casting suggestion for later in the season. "God is always played by Morgan Freeman": a funny observation that reached oversaturation before it's brought back to thunderous applause and much laughter on Save Me. It's obvious, but that's what makes it funny! "But Morgan Freeman wouldn't do TV." - You. "Oh, no shit?" - Me.
5. God Has Had It Up To HERE With All Your Instagramming
Beth, as God's Vessel, becomes an emissary for technology-free living, to help the world recall a time when they really listened, like at the Sermon on the Mount. "No one was Vine-ing that!," God will joke when we finally hear his voice in the tag to Episode 6.
6. God Is The Old Testament God
I only skimmed when we had to read for class, but from what I remember he was kind of a jerk. And VERY temperamental, especially when it came to smiting people/things. To see the events of the Great Flood taking place in Beth's suburban Ohio neighborhood would be pretty engaging television. More faithful than that History Channel's Bible miniseries, too.Marlon and Jessica take comfort in the Lord after Marlon fornicates and Jessica over-fixates. Averey and Johnny get in another scrap thanks to good old booze, but Averey notches a first-place finish. Doesn't make much difference in the overall rankings, though, and we may have our final order already.
What's going on here? I'll list the housemates from best to worst each week. First place gets 8 points, second place 7, and so on. Whoever has the most points at the end of the season is probably the most awesome person in the RW: Portland house. Yes, I'm counting Averey's dog, Daisy. No, I don't think this is a terribly scientific system.
And now, let's prepare for the zombie-pocalypse.
Right? It's crazy. Anyway: genuinely believes a zombie apocalypse is coming, which is strangely charming. Gets super- excited about going to a zombie survival training camp, which ditto. Realistic about the fact that someone will have to move for their relationship to survive. Stands her ground when Johnny's jealousy gets out of hand (again), though she does sulk for a good long time and should maybe consider giving him the boot if this is such a persistent problem, but still places first this week thanks to a weak showing from other roomies…and a hidden reserve of snark, to wit: golf-claps the news that Marlon fell off the poon wagon; sing-songs that Jessica needs to take her eleventy jillion pictures of Tyler down or she's "gonna look like a psyyyyychooooo."
Seen only briefly, inhaling Oscar Meyer ham slices. Hee.
Hits the comeback trail by setting boundaries with Mark, who is still freaking out all over her. Admits that she's a traffic-cone klepto. Is both withering and more gentle than I'd have been towards Jessica's break-up with Tyler when she observes that, if you make keychains out of your and your boyf's picture, the nothing good that happens next shouldn't come as a surprise, so much.
Does pull unnecessary jealousy BS on Averey, but also admits that it's a problem of his, and it's because he loves her; explains, reasonably given the lateness of the hour, that she wouldn't like it if the roles had been reversed.
A long talk with his pastor father, who raised Marlon on his own (in part while living in the car Marlon later drove in college; respect to Marlon Sr.), fails to prevent Marlon from falling into Ashley's vagina. Much literal soul-searching follows, and it's fairly silly -- maybe it's the UCC part of my own upbringing talking, but I don't think you understand what Christianity is about if you think God or God Jr. cares that you fornicated; just ask for forgiveness and get on with your week, good grief -- but Marlon is very sincere and mostly concerned with disappointing his earthly father. Fair enough. He works it out in two ways: cutting a hip-hop track with his father's voice as a loop (very cool), and letting Jessica drag him to church (l…ess so?). Should probably rank lower for boring me, but the thinly disguised "girl, get over it" he gives Jessica when she's buzz-sawing about not feeling accepted is vintage Marlon: thoughtful but with an edge.
Isn't egregious, but screentime this week devoted mainly to 1) complaining about being in the middle between Johnny and Averey, but 2) continuing to put himself there, and even 3) asking them what's going on. "Oy" face while those two are arguing on the streetcar edges him ahead of Nia, barely.
Stop feeding the dog people food, lady! And stop saying antediluvian shit like "Until you have a ring on it, don't give 100 percent" to Jessica. Or to anyone.
Oh, God. She really did have a gazillion pictures of Tyler up. She really did complain about waiting to have sex, which see above re: nobody caring, and then went on a total gushfest on the phone about how much she liiiiiikes Tyler and how much she can't wait to seeeeeee him and how she'd like to lick his faaaaaaaace and if it gets serious she would move to Poooooortland and record scratch. "That's…pretty sweet," Tyler says, fighting to make himself heard over the sound of his testicles dashing back into his torso. After another long pause, he plays the "I have to get up early" card -- on a phone call, no less -- and dumps her via email. She did say at the beginning of the ep that when she gets into a dude, she gets really into him and "it's bad," but then she does nothing to steer into the skid and totally flips the thing. Meanwhile, she thinks Averey's zombie thing is dumb. Whines even more post-neg to Marlon about how she never feels accepted anywhere. Honey, please please get a grip.
Season To Date Rankings
What did you think?