”Tell Me You Love Me”: The fertility test
Yowzers, now that’s an opening scene. Carolyn, that little minx, was talking dirty to Palek on her headset in the car while looking distractedly for her literal turnoff. He got so caught up in her rote fantasy that on the brink she had to remind him, in jugular-cutting form, that his job is not actually to give her an imaginary pearl necklace but to get the damn sample in the cup so the doctors can once and for all prove that his swimmers are subpar. Oh dear, she is just not softening yet, is she? Thank you, thank you, Cynthia Mort, for bringing such an unapologetically mean woman to HBO. Carolyn is angry and hard and ready to strike. But she’s never been reduced to something as simple as ”the bitch.” She is literally my favorite person to watch on TV right now, for the simple fact that she is terrifying and strangely endearing and so incredibly f—ed up. When Palek reported back that his sperm is in superb form — unaffected by the ”worldwide sperm crisis” — she looked practically hobbled by the news. ”I’m thrilled, I’m thrilled,” she told him, her face frozen in a Joker-like smile. ”Congratulations,” she said, as if he had just bested her in an ultimate-fighting match-up. It must be her fault, you bastard, that they’re not pregnant.
Something weird happened this episode. I caught myself laughing a few times. Usually, I’ve got a cringe on my face, or my head is cocked and eyes squinted, or I’m trying to convince my bored husband that no, in fact, the show’s picking up steam and it’s not as slow or boring as the few scenes he’s watched have led him to believe. There were a couple genuine chuckles this week, which is really what TMYLM has been lacking. I got a nice smirk when Carolyn looked eye-rolly and impatient during phone sex. (Yes, yes, you have a big penis.) Later too, when Palek said the two should go to their friends’ house for game night. She looked as if he’d suggested anal for the evening. ”Game night? I hate game night.” Oh, Carolyn, a woman after my own soul, you just hate enforced fun. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing she also hates karaoke, theme parties (the worst!), and secret-Santa rituals. Palek wanted in though, so she relented with an amused passing shot. ”Could we win at least, because we never win….If that Saskia buzzes me, I’m going to f—ing punch you.” Ah yes, a night of Taboo, the absolute best, most aggressive, most infuriating, most satisfying board game going. (A Valby family holiday tradition.) And forgive me for this, but I got an uncomfortable little laugh when guest star Jeremy London popped up on screen during game night, his face all a-bloat. The writers then had the nerve to sic him with this opening line: ”Has anybody noticed? I lost six pounds for the reunion.” Embarrassingly low blow here, but you maybe should have lost another six when you booked this gig.
But the great laugh of the episode came at Katie and David’s anniversary dinner, which they tragically invited the kids along to. Earlier in the episode, David and their tween daughter went shopping in the mall for Mom’s anniversary present. David suggested a fug purse, but Isabella dragged him into the intimate section, steering him clear of the sea of granny panties and sherbet-colored terry-cloth robes. Voilà, she said, settling on a purple and black push-up teddy. Poor David looked faint. This creepily omniscient kid sees everything, and she knows that the rhythm is all wrong on the home front. So later at dinner, Bella said Dad got Mom the perfect present, and let’s open it at the table. When Katie unwrapped her gift, expecting a new pair of Crocs or a foot-relaxer tub, she looked physically shocked — that was five stupefied wows she let loose — by the boned lingerie that flopped menacingly in the air. ”What is it?” asked their confused little son, looking bleary eyed and drunk in the face of all that lace. ”Pajamas, honey,” said Katie. Funny!
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