After a week of fun and sun down at the Jersey Shore, this week’s Sunny episode, “Frank Reynolds’ Little Beauties,” kicks off back in the familiar dregs of Paddy’s Pub, with a cold open that encapsulates pretty much everything that Sunny has come to stand for.
And we’re off.
This episode has all the trappings to really revisit what the gang is made of. Less than two minutes in to the episode and I’m giddy with excitement over the opportunities this storyline presents. Sunny lies pretty far away from “satirical” on the spectrum, but the show absolutely thrives when it is tenuously tied to a social issue. Perhaps it’s the over-the-top actions of the gang that reveal the absurdity of both the characters and the principals at hand, but, for whatever reason, it’s episodes like “The Gang Gets Racist,” “Bums: Making a Mess All Over the City,” “Dennis and Dee Go On Welfare,” and “The Gang Exploits the Gas Crises” all have proven to be among the show’s elite half-hours.
Off the bat, we see the factions start to form. Frank wants to salvage his investment without forfeiting his already-dicey reputation. Dee begins to reminisce about her modeling days, to the predictable mockery of the rest of the gang. Charlie cracks an egg of knowledge on us about how child pageants are woven int the American fabric (God, I love Charlie). Dennis is creeped out by the whole affair. And Mac…well, Mac’s really fat, and that’s plenty for now.
Remarkably, Charlie’s speech wins over the whole group, who decide that parading little made up girls in an exercise in “freedom” as much as it is anything else. So, as quickly as it began, it’s over. The gang, in the name of patriotism, will host a children’s beauty pageant.
“USA! USA! USA!”
The gang seems unsettlingly unified at this point, which is perhaps the most ominous aspect of this whole plan. Let’s see where the hell this united front takes us.
With Frank and Dee speaking to the contestants and their parents, Charlie, Mac, and Dennis are working on a musical number, with Charlie leading the show. Before the trio of composers can agree on a note, they decide that their involvement in the pageant and presence on-stage is a foregone conclusion. Like there was any doubt.
After a visit from child services, the gang realizes they have nothing to fear or hide, and the show must go on, so we immediately cut to Charlie in “musical director” mode, which is easily one of the 13 best modes Charlie can be in.
Dear God, I could fill up the whole recap with quotes from this scene, but it simply wouldn’t do them justice. Suffice it to say, when Charlie sides with Samantha, much as he did with some of the teens in “Underage Drinking: A National Problem,” we get gold.
Ok. One quick exchange:
“Samantha gets to be mean! Because Samantha is a star!”
At this point, it’s pretty clear that the big payout is going to be the pageant itself, so until that time, it looks like we’ll be killing some time with some set-up scenes that serve to tell us where we are headed, but are pretty funny nonetheless. We’ve got:
Dee getting schooled by Samantha during lunch;
Fat Mac wheezing his way through lunch;
The dandy boy who, contrary to the fellas’ first impressions, isn’t being forced into the competition at all,
And, after getting served by Samantha, Dee takes ugly duckling Justine under her wing to dethrone Samantha.
The scenarios are set-up, so let’s go to the back half of the episode to watch the gang knock them down. They arrive at the school theater for the pageant to find Frank done up in corpse makeup (compliments of a creepy mortician) to hide his battered grill. With Artemis sternly and stoically asking the audience to “give me a beat” during “America, The Beautiful,” the pageant is underway. And how!
With Mac, Dennis, and Dee busting moves onstage, and what we can only assume is a white-shoed Charlie a-tappin’ his foot, it becomes pretty clear what this pageant is really about. The gang wants to put on another musical. After a variety show-style intro from Charlie, Frank painfully oversells the innocence of the whole affair, introducing the contestants “that he isn’t attracted to at all” while wearing the previously mentioned corpse makeup. Of course, all the good-behavior from the gang begins to get squandered the moment Frank unintentionally broadcasts a private conversation he has about banging corpses.
The audience’s attention is quickly shifts from Franks desire to be “filled with cream” after he dies when the cops bust in to arrest Walter, who is, as we assumed, a pedophile.
The gang hastily decides that although pageants are an American tradition, they aren’t a proud one, names Samantha the winner, then storm out the door, having learned no lessons and built no bonds.
Kudos to Sunny on this one for reminding us that the Dee, Mac, Dennis, and Charlie don’t have to be total assholes in order to be funny.