Diane, The Gladiator

**This post contains spoilers from episode 1.19 of Trophy Wife, “The Minutes.”**

Diane holds up her phone so we can all see that Kate is one whole minute (or maybe it’s 31 minutes, maybe this is a totally reasonable reaction, but I doubt it) to a PTA meeting. Kate explains that she was late because of Scandal and proceeds to spoil some thing that happens probably in a real episode.

Diane: “I would love to hear all about your friends, but I’ll read about it later in your Hello Kitty diary.”

Lifetime moment of silence for Diane Buckley not crossing over to Community. Kate explains that she was talking about a TV show and that Diane would LOVE it and we’re treated to another zinger:

Diane: “I reserve the word love for my children and chocolate with above 75% cocao.”

With that Kate’s first PTA meeting is now in session. On the docket: semi-formal chaperone attire, and while some lady in a super tweed jacket starts blathering about starting a girl’s squash league, Kate offers Diane some granola which Diane promptly chokes on. After some protracted Heimlich attempts both by Kate and Diane, Kate manages to dislodge the granola. Mostly Marcia Gay Harden’s hair looks amazingly silky and lustrous while she’s running around flailing.

Kate: “Are you okay Diane?!”
Diane: “No. Your granola is too dry.”

Jeez. Some people. Later at Chez Harrison, Kate can’t let it go and though Pete tells her it’s pointless, Kate’s putting together a gift basket.

Kate: “I’m just going to keep shaming her with fine jams and muffins.”

There might be a flaw in this plan, because if I started recieving gift baskets full of fine jams for NOT saying thank you, what do you suppose is the LAST thing I’m going to say? Kate is undeterred, even when Pete points out she just stole his muffin. She tosses it back to him, but it sails by and falls to the floor.

Pete, immediately: “You need to leave so you don’t see me eat that off the floor.”

Gpoy, buddy.

He briefly tries to deny his floor muffin when Hillary comes in next but she SO doesn’t care because she’s going to the semi-formal with a cute boy from German club whom she cornered and demanded take her (“Achtung! You’re taking me to the dance.”) Aw, young love.

Pete: “That’s how your mother first asked me out. It worked for a while and then it didn’t.”

Hillary’s too high on control to notice this sage advice, but she does manage to answer when Pete asks what the kid’s name is, and it turns out that Hillary’s date, Evan Kramer, is in fact the son of Paul and April Kramer which sets off alarm bells for Pete.

He runs over to Jackie’s to conference with her about it and we learn that the Kramers were neighbors of theirs – but not the ones who said they stole their wok or dinged their car (Pete: “Were you high our entire marriage?!”). No, the Kramers, on Cypress Street.

Jackie: “Oh! The Kramers! Oooh, smelly bastards! Why do we hate them again?”
Pete: “You don’t remember why we hate them but you remember what they smell like?”
Jackie: “Yeah, wet cashews! Bastards.”

Okay okay, the Kramers lent the Harrisons a garden hose, which apparently had a tear in it, and claimed that Jackie and/or Pete put it there. At least they have a good reason for their cashews being wet. Anyway Pete wants back up that he can forbid Hillary to go to the dance with Evan, which Jackie is totally on board for.

Jackie: “Yeah, my father did it with you!”
Pete: “But we got married.”
Jackie: “Yeah but then we got divorced so he wins. Of course he was already dead, so I guess it’s a push.”

Pete rages against the Kramers a little more (Pete: “I’d rather Hillary went to the dance with literally anyone else.” Jackie: “Yeah, even a murderer!” Pete: “ESPECIALLY A MURDERER.”) just in case there was any question how far this business is going to go.

This scene/storyline is great mostly because Pete and Jackie being on the same team and being all bro-y is fun, and also because Michaela Watkins does this threatening “snip snip” with a pair of minute pruning shears (they’re literally the size of nail scissors) right at the end that is great.

Next we head to Diane’s and get an exterior shot of her gorgeously austere house. All right angles in white stucco, gleaming steel garage doors, and desert-style hardscaping with the most inhospitable shrubs imaginable. It’s flawless.

Kate’s delivering her gift basket, which seems to only include jam and the first two seasons of Scandal on DVD. She should have put a Hello Kitty diary in there too, that would have been cute. Diane, perhaps feeling testy because of the girdle thing she’s wearing to support her bruised ribs, is not impressed:

Diane: “Jam without toast points? What a cruel tease.”

Diane calls Kate out on fishing for a thank you, and Kate cues her up for it one more time, but Diane still refuses. She’s not going to thank Kate for doing something she could have easily done herself by performing her own tracheotomy:

Diane: “It’s an incredibly gruesome and beautiful thing that few people ever get to see.”

That line is just so amazing. Kate, who seems to know when she’s beaten, stalks off in a huff.

Next we check in on Bert helping Warren prepare for the semi-formal with a checklist of essentials:

Tux? Corsage? Signature robotic dance move? Date?

Respectively Warren’s got a check, check, check plus and “small check” on those fronts. He’s asked a few girls but they all turned him down (“They said it would be weird because we go to school together, which is true!”) and I love Ryan Lee’s delivery of this stuff, he’s always so sunny about it! Bert has a relevant anecdote:

Bert: “My mom told me a very moving bedtime story about a Marine who asked Mila Kunis to his dance on the internet and she went.”

Bless this show, it’s a fairy tale for the new millennium!

(And actually it was a Marine Corps Ball Mila went to with a real Marine. Each unit has one every year around the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps and it’s like prom for grownups. If you ever get invited to a Marine Corps Ball by an even tolerable dude, you should for sure go, just know two things: no matter what he tells you, it is FORMAL. Wear what you would wear as a guest to a black tie wedding. And two: stay near the dance floor after dinner because grown men in dress blues getting down to some dubstep is something you should never deprive yourself of witnessing if given the option.)

Sadly Warren *is* cutting it a bit close on becoming a Marine before Saturday, but Bert was leaning more towards finding Warren a celebrity date:

Bert: “Maybe we could double date. How do you feel about the Fanning sisters? I’ve got dibs on Dakota!”

At apparently the second PTA meeting of the week, Diane is a wee bit late but Kate is bonding with her new mom-friends (or so she thinks, which makes me sad because we know from both the soccer episode and Bert’s birthday that she tends to feel left out of these things) by doing an impression of Diane before she walks in. Tweed Squash Lady suggests Diane go home to rest because she’s worried about her.

Diane: “Your husband works for Blackberry and you’re worried about me?”

For real though, Diane is sore enough that she can’t seem to separate one styrofoam cup from another so I don’t know how she even drove there. She does end up handing over her giant binder, reluctantly.

Diane: “I am warning you, this dance will never come off without me!”
Kate, a bit high on her own hilarity: “Did she just put a curse on the ball?”

Continuing with the PTA meeting, Tweed (whose real name is Iris) brings up squash again, and Kate shuts her down since she’s the only one interested in it anyway with a motion to “quash squash” that passes immediately. Somehow I have a feeling this could be relevant later, I’m not sure why . . .

Back at Chez Harrison Pete, with Jackie in tow, has to tell Hillary he’s forbidding her from going to the dance with Cashew Kramer because his parents aren’t good stewards of their lawn care equipment. He doesn’t put it in so many words though, because it turns out that Pecan and Acorn already forbade little Cashew from taking Hillary to the semi-formal anyway.

Pete: “Did they say why?”
Jackie: “Was it the hose?”
Hillary: “What hose?”
Pete: “A 20-foot hose with a detachable nozzle, doesn’t matter.”

Pete and Jackie try to convince Hillary to let it go but she literally beseeches Pete (Jackie: “I’d go easy on the big words Hill.”) to go talk to the Kramers on her behalf. Pete agrees and Hillary squeals happily and gives him a big hug and an I love you before scampering off to check in on Warren and Bert, who are also squealing.

Hillary: “What is it?! Did you finally finish Charlotte’s Web?”

But no, “not even close!”, Warren just got a reply to his You Tube video pleading with Vanessa Hudgens to go to the dance with him and she said yes! Hillary doesn’t believe it, so they show her the video, which features Warren wrapped in an afghan, talking about how “ill” and “sick” he is, how he doesn’t have much time left, and some input from Bert about how it would make Warren’s wish come true. Hillary lets him know he basically just lied that he has a terminal illness to get a date, but Warren objects.

Hillary: “You were wrapped in an afghan!”
Warren: “Uh, yeah because I wanted her to like me for me, and not my body.”

Hillary insists he email back Vanessa Hudgens’ manager to let her know about the mixup and Warren agrees, crestfallen.

At Buckley Palace, Diane’s maid Claudia brings her the Scandal DVDs she must have thrown away by accident (Diane: “I never do anything by accident.”) and pops one in the player. Diane, lounging in ivory silk pajamas with a glass of red wine, is immediately taken with the vision of Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope wearing and doing the very same.

And thus, a fangirl is born.

The Kramers live in this kind of bonkers house – brick red stucco with green trim and a terra cotta tile roof? Jeez – and Pete warns Jackie before they get out of the car that since she can be “a bit of a hot head” she should let Pete do the talking.

Jackie, eyerolling exactly as hard as the audience: “Smart. Good plan. Love the plan.”

Pete greets Pistachio and Almond who are conveniently outside working on their lawn already, and Pistachio is pleasantly returning the gesture when he’s interrupted.

Jackie: “Cut the crap Pecan!” (Okay fine she uses his actual name, Paul) “You look 10 years older than the last time I saw you 2 years ago!”
Pete: “So much for the plan.”

He asks about the whole dance debacle and Acorn starts to deny it:

Jackie: “Cut the crap April! I haven’t seen you in a long time and your skin does not look good.”

Pete brings up the hose incident as clear evidence of their smallness as people, so Almond calls Cashew himself out to ask him directly what these insane people on their lawn are talking about. Turns out, Cashew lied because he didn’t want to go to the dance with Hillary because she’s scary.

Cashew: “She’s SO bossy, and she uses big words, and she wears blazers. For two years I thought she was a teacher. I’m really sorry.”

Pecan (played by Andy Buckley who you may recognize as David Wallace from the US version of The Office or if you’re as distracted by his mustache as I am, Spike Jonze’s Her) makes some amazing gloat-face at Pete, who comes to Hillary’s defense:

Pete: “First of all she doesn’t just wear blazers, she wears neckerchiefs and barn jackets. You’re trying to spare her feelings… just try and tell the truth.”
Jackie: “Okay! I’m sorry. I tore the hose.”

Diane is now on the edge of her seat with a giant bag of baked cheese puffs (man do I want some of those now) and her red wine, narrating the relevant plot points to Claudia who’s just trying to get her vacuuming done before her husband comes to pick her up. Diane shushes her, has her sit down and share some cheese puffs.

Back at the PTA meeting Kate is a big hit, and so is her Diane impression, complete with robot voice and arm motions (“I am Diane. I cannot human smile.”). Also popular are her renditions of the gym teacher and the principal, all spurred on by Tweed Iris, tapping away on a laptop the whole time. Turns out she’s transcribing the details of all this mess for the minutes of this meeting to send out to the “whole school community.”

Plot Twist! I told you squash would be important.

Kate chases Iris down in the parking lot after the meeting with a compliment on her jeggings and awkward segue into asking her to not publish any of the horribly inappropriate things she said and did in the meeting in the minutes. Iris agrees way too easily with the caveat that an earlier-mentioned budget surplus get put towards a girls squash team, and then she gets full on evil, revealing that she of course made herself look like a contentious objector to Kate’s performance and wondering aloud what kind of recommendation letters Kate might expect from him for her kids when they’re applying to colleges.

I didn’t know it was common practice for a principal to write recommendation letters for students if he obviously never had them in a class, but then I went to junior college for my MRS so this isn’t my area of expertise.

Kate, stunned, can only watch as Iris drives away and screech, “I HATE YOUR JEGGINGS!” fruitlessly into the night.

Pete’s dreading telling Hillary that the boy she literally described as “cornered” wasn’t actually all that jazzed about being ordered to take her to the dance. If you ask me this is a lesson far better learned in high school than after two kids and however many years of marriage like Diane. Who come to think of it hasn’t actually learned that lesson yet, but I still hold out hope for Hillary. Jackie’s looking on the bright side:

Pete: “How do you tell your kid someone doesn’t like them?”
Jackie: “I know, thank god we’ll never have to deal with this with Bert.”

Pete sits Hillary down and lies to her that Pistachio and Acorn are just crazy people who are still holding a grudge about their hose. Hillary unknowingly calls his bluff and says that she’ll just go talk to Evan because of course if everyone knows that if parents are being unreasonable you don’t have to listen to them. So then Pete has to forbid her to go over there and we end up at:

Pete: “You can go to the dance with ANYONE else.”
Jackie: “Even a murderer!”
Pete: “ESPECIALLY A MURDERER!”

Hillary, shocked, gasps that she hates him and storms out. Pete feels bad about it, but Jackie sweetly reminds him that it was nice of him to protect her feelings.

Pete: “It makes me uneasy when you agree with my parenting style.”

Me too, but for the reason that Hillary’s more than old enough to experience the consequences of being bossy, just like wussy Cashew is old enough to be held accountable for lying. I know, I know, it’s a sitcom, people are named after nuts, let it go Mary.

Would you believe we’re just now getting to the big Scandal tribute moment? Don’t worry, all the set up has been worth it.

Kate busts into Diane’s house, where she is ensconced now with Claudia and Mr. Claudia, all three watching Scandal which Diane promptly turns off and denies watching. Kate doesn’t call her on it because she needs help with this PTA debacle. Diane springs into action as music starts in the background, ordering Kate to put a tail on Iris first thing the next morning to get some dirt. Claudia is in charge of talking to Iris’s house keeper, and “Claudia’s Husband!” is in charge of looking up Tony Goldwyn’s filmography online (“I KNOW he’s been in something and it’s driving me crazy!”).

Now we’re in full-blown montage mode, and it’s awesome. Kate hides in a bush to take pictures of Iris playing Minesweeper while eating at a sidewalk cafe, then pulls a file out of a cabinet in what looks like a basement (we’ll learn more about that later, they got a little too excited about this lens flare/prism effect for me to make out everything on the file label), Claudia’s Husband identifies Tony Goldwyn as being best known for Ghost, Tarzan, and The Last Samurai, and Claudia adorably procures Iris’s actual literal dirty laundry.

Warren is ready for the dance, looking as precious as any 15-year old in a tux can really hope to be (“I’m going to this dance and my date is life.”) and Bert has him bend down so Bert can pinch his cheeks and reassure him that “Vanessa Hudgens doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

It’s exactly as cute as it sounds.

In a red and orange-lit shadowy school office, Iris is again tapping away on that laptop. Kate and Diane enter, each in a fabulous beige coat and leaning menacingly over the table.

Iris, shaken but cocky: “I was just going to send out the minutes!”
Diane: “The minutes can wait a minute.”
Kate: “We only need a minute.”

They lay out their evidence; Iris’ Wellesley sweatshirt, her daughter’s sucky grades, and Diane’s encyclopedic knowledge of Wellesley’s “anemic” women’s squash program. Iris counters that wanting her daughter to go to her alma mater isn’t a crime, and Kate counters that using the PTA laptop (seriously, your PTA has its own laptop? Damn) for personal use is, and they have a picture of a matching serial number on the laptop Iris used to play Minesweeper at two different restaurants in one day.

Kate, for the big finish: “It would be a shame for your daughter to find out that you were trying to get her into college.”

I was ROLLING at that line, it was perfection.

Iris, caught, concedes and deletes the word document of the PTA meeting minutes, and then Diane flips the laptop over and ruthlessly rubs a magnet over the bottom to scrub the entire harddrive.

Iris: “My high score!”

Diane and Kate peace out, each with a saucy, “it’s handled,” and that is, apparently, how Trophy Wife does Scandal.

I can’t speak to how successful it was as an homage given that I’ve never seen an episode of Scandal, but this A-plot was the funniest of the episode and played up the tropes of Scandal‘s genre perfectly so I’ll raise my red wine and baked cheese puffs to another successful episode.

Mary is a military wife, mother, and certifiably pathological fangirl. Though she’s written before, this is her first foray into blogging. Her interests include livetweeting, cooking, baking, buying, and – most importantly – eating food, puns, and deciphering her toddler’s attempts to speak English. Follow her #mamatweets, #wifepeopleproblems, and #islandproblems (it’s not all complaining, honest) on Twitter at @maryarrr

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