Welcome back to my reviews and recaps of “Casual.” To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
The term “friend crush” is more than appropriate in Vals’ situation but also is a term that applies to real life scenarios more often than it’s talked about. Dating is fun and being in a relationship has it’s perks, but isn’t there a certain giddiness that comes along with making a new friend, especially once out of your adolescence? It’s tricky as I mentioned in my last review and Val’s attempts at trying to warm Jennifer up to her rings especially true. Her attempts at being aloof while waiting for her at lunch, her disappointment when she has to leave and her uncomfortable, prolonged small talk in the bathroom humanizes Val and Michaela Watkins, as is the norm for her, is wonderful in these internalized moments of self-doubt. Despite her general selfishness we want Jennifer to like her too.
Her meeting with the other parents of the co-opt school further highlights my alignment with Val much to my dismay, as the overbearing, “too friendly” parent’s rub her as well as me the wrong way and she doesn’t make much leeway in building relationships with them, even while Laura is having her own realizations that being apathetic won’t ensure friends.
Alex continues his plight in distracting himself from his own issues, largely focused on Val’s as per usual. However his distractions are momentary derailed as he and his business partner meet the man trying to buy out their company, played by Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser. He tells the two that he’s not buying the company due to failure but due to it’s success. Alex’s algorithm is just too good and a dating site’s looses it’s longevity when all the single users using the database are paired off.
One of my favorite aspects about Alex’s character (and likely the most frustrating to many) is how hung up he gets on points of conversation that don’t ring true to him and one of the things mentioned in the meeting is how people are just as unhappy after marriage as they were single, prompting Alex to conduct a poll, much to the annoyance of those around him. His confidence, or ignorance, to how people perceive him is both a strength and a weakness to the character who lacks self-awareness. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just walk around someones potluck and ask questions to strangers? But, also, isn’t it totally weird when that stranger at a potluck comes over and asks like the two of you are best friends?
At the very least he continues to excel at being Val’s aid in navigating her own life and extreme social awkwardness. Her want for friends is natural and so is his more flippant, comfortable nature in making them (meaning he doesn’t really wait to see if they want to befriend him in the first place). The scene where he brings her to a bar to meet with a group all in order to bolster her and make her seem “cool” to Jennifer is well played by Watkins and Tommy Dewey who excel in these moments of sibling back and forth, an effortless chemistry selling their well meaning poking fun at one another. Val get’s another win by the end of the episode as Jennifer invites her to grab a drink while Alex, left to his own devices, hooks up with a woman he met at the potluck.
It would seem that as Val continues to move forward in her life, with or without Alex, he continues to find himself in a state of arrested development.