Kudos to this show for consistently highlighting the subtle cultural differences between different socioeconomic strata. This week's arena for the class of cultures: Susan's housewarming party. Janet tries to rise to the hostess duties that Susan bestowed upon her (really -- this was not a burden, as Janet lives for a chance to break out the Tupperware), and Trina tries to lure the Millers over to the swingin' side with fondue and friends. At the end of the evening, Susan makes it clear that she's going her own way and doing her own thing. And while she and Janet may have made up, Roger's discovery that the Millers are now swinging appears to have thrown him for a loop.
Laurie opts out of the party, choosing instead to sort books with hot Teacher Doug. Somehow, they are able to stay after hours, the better to spend time all alone reading the letters of James Joyce to one another. Eventually, to the strains of that great sex machine Bob Dylan, Laurie plants one on Teacher Doug. He does not back away shrieking, "Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!"
Finally, the kiddie subplot: Samantha shows up at the Millers' housewarming, bobbing in her mom's wake like a neglected buoy, and boy, is Ricky threatened. After some words with B.J., he storms back home to clean the basement (his punishment for the porn stash). Samantha astutely tells B.J. that Ricky feels like he's being left behind. B.J., bless him, heads over to the Thompsons' and hangs with his old friend, while his new friend curls up in his bed.
MVP of the night: the initial rip in the wallpaper. So symbolic! And such a catalyst for the party.
Line of the night: "Fondue, anyone?" -- Trina, taking over Susan's party.
Runner-up line of the night: "You might want to get your camera for this..." -- Tom, sotto voce, to Bruce when Susan attacks the wallpaper. I find Tom more charming week by week.
The episode begins with Susan up early on a Sunday morning. She's clearly wound up about something, and has been trying unsuccessfully to sublimate her anxiety through cooking a large breakfast for her family. Bruce comes down and puts the moves on his wife, but Susan coldly asks, "Bruce, can you get the kids down here, please?' "KIDS! GET DOWN HERE!" Bruce hollers. He turns around in time to catch the look Susan's just nailed him with. The kids come down, understandably confused by mom making breakfast, and then everyone is thrown when Susan asks Bruce to say grace. Bruce says slowly, "Uh ... dear God?" Are you there? It's me, Bruce. He continues, "Thanks for the food --" and everyone makes to dive in, when Susan adds, "And our family. And friends. And we ask that you bless this very big, expensive house we now live in. Amen." Bruce is not sure what that was all about, but if it means a home-cooked breakfast, he can live with it. Then Susan drops the next bomb: they're all going to church that morning.
Cut to the Millers in church. The pastor is standing in front of what my family used to call "a Vatican II flag," i.e. a felt banner with an anodyne message and bright flowers or butterflies on it. (I was raised in a family that infinitely preferred the gory statues of Jesus bleeding on the cross to the butterflies-and-rainbow flags exhorting us to "Joy!") None of the Millers are pondering the seismic cultural shifts that rocked American organized religion in the 1970s. In fact, two of the Millers are playing Hangman. As the pastor intones, "Love is a journey, and we must follow where it leads, hand in hand," Susan looks over at Janet. After church, there's an awkward Mllers-and-Thompsons tete-a-tete, and then Susan extends an olive branch by asking Janet to help her plan a housewarming party. Despite herself, Janet is intrigued by this opportunity to break out her ninja hostessing skills. She assents, and Susan's thrilled that their friendship will be on the mend. Bruce, not so much.
His new, cool friends are having their pool party. Trina's wafting around in a really spiffy one-piece and a caftan, handing out tequila shots while Tom barbecues bare-chested and a giddy Steve holds their movie camera and documents the fun. Awww! Steve has such a man-crush on Tom. And who wouldn't? It takes a bold man to carry off that mustache. Bruce continues to film as Tom gives him background notes on several of the guests, but Susan's getting awfully broody sitting by herself. The boys dish on the upcoming housewarming, and upon learning that Janet's involved, Tom discreetly inquires, "You want us to pad the guest list a little?" Would Steve? Oh, he's fallen in love all over again.