Thursday, August 8, 2013

Showtime’s Web Therapy #303 “Believe It or Not”

The Universe Has its Way
By Catherine Giordano

Fiona always wants to have her way, but it is clear that sometimes the universe has its way. And apparently the universe doesn’t like Fiona very much.  Why do I say that?  I think it is obvious after viewing Showtime’s Web Therapy, season 3 episode 3, airing on Tuesday August 6, 2013.

Steve Carell as Jackson Pickett "soul searching"

The episode begins with Fiona chatting with Franny, the composer lyricists for “Fiona, The Musical” or should I say former composer/lyricist. Fiona has succeeded in manipulating Franny (played by Megan Mullally)  into getting herself fired from the show.  Now the show has no music and the whole project is shut down.

But not for long. The universe apparently wants this show to go on. There are new investors. One of then is Fiona’s rejected lover, Jackson Pickett (played by Steve Carell) and the other is her wealthy boyfriend Austen Clarke (played by Alan Cummings). 

Fiona has been telling Jackson that she is too good for him—she thinks he is a loser, but on this episode she learns that Jackson could buy and sell her many times over.  He has become rich running a group called Quorum (Scientology, anyone?).This is where all his previously observed psychobabble is coming from.

Fiona also learns that the universe wants her two lovers to meet. Jackson has not met Austen yet, but I don’t think it will be good for Fiona when Austen finds out she had a one-night stand with Pickett. (Of course, Austen had several nights’ stand with Hayley to whom he is now sham-married so his heir will be legitimate when it is born, so perhaps he will be understanding.)  

Back to Franny –it appears that the universe loves Franny. After a chance meeting with Lady Gaga, Franny is now the darling of the pop world.  Lady Gaga, and every other big pop star, wants Franny to write songs for them. In fact, Lady Gaga has paid handsomely for all the songs written for “Fiona, the Musical.”

“Including my songs,” Fiona asks.  “What do you mean,” Franny shoots back. “I wrote every one of these songs. You said so yourself.” Fiona is shut out of any riches that may accrue due to the songs she wrote because she persuaded Franny that Franny wrote them while she was drunk. (See last week’s review.)  Fiona is shut out. This is “the-universe-delights –in-ironic-comeuppances” moment of the week.

Can things get worse?  Yes, they can. It turns out that Hayley is living in Fiona’s New York penthouse—the one gifted to her by Austen. Further, Jerome is there also and he is the one who has gotten Jackson to invest in the musical.

There is one bright spot for Fiona. Robin Griner, the videographer/documentarian for Kip's campaign and Fiona’s one time rival for the affections of Kip may have footage that could help exonerate Fiona who is under investigation for fraud concerning misuse of campaign funds. But Robin extracts a high price form Fiona. She wants an invitation to a gala event that Austen is planning and has numerous other demands. Fiona agrees to give her everything she wants, and Robin agrees to turn over all the footage.

When Robin stands up, Fiona can see that she is pregnant. Robin has married Richard and she is carrying his baby.  This is the same Richard who apparently had a crush on Fiona and whom Fiona manipulated mercilessly, first encouraging and then discouraging, the same Richard who was the accountant for Kip’s campaign. I think the universe is just setting Fiona up to slap her down again. Oh, how the universe loves to play games.

The last chat of the episode is with Jackson again. He has sent Fiona a little contraption—a combination handcuffs and lie detector test. He calls it “soul search.”  Fiona puts the hand cuffs on and Jackson asks her questions.  The device chimes if she tells the truth and buzzes if she is less than honest.  But Jackson, all enthusiastic with his new toy, has put the device on himself, a more advanced model that delivers an electric shock if the wearer lies. Fiona starts asking if his treatments are phony; if Quroum is just a scam.  Jackson tries to deny it, but his yelps of pain as the device delivers electric shocks expose his denials as lies.

Fiona may appear to have gotten the better of Jackson, but if the universe has its way, It won’t last long. The universe takes delight is delivering “comeuppance” to Fiona.

Web Therapy is wonderfully absurd, and Lisa Kudrow makes a magnificent Fiona.  A lot of the show is improvisation, so the plot takes wild twists and turns as the actors try to surprise and challenge each other with bizarre responses. At the end of each episode, we see some outtakes, and we realize how difficult it is for the actors to keep a straight face. 

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