Just like the adorable baby girl whose birth set the series in motion, it's been fun to watch how Up All Night has grown and changed over the course of its first year of life. When it premiered in September, it was a comedy about how a free-spirited married couple adjusts to the responsibilities of child-rearing. But last night's season finale perfectly illustrated what the show has morphed into since the pilot: a female-driven workplace sitcom that gets more comic mileage out of the adult relationships at the office rather than the parent/child stuff at home. (That the baby's most significant bit of screentime last night came in the post-credits teaser indicates just how much the show's focus has shifted.)
Up All Night's gradual evolution into the show it is now has had both positive and negative effects. On the upside, re-centering the series around the Ava studio as opposed to Chris and Reagan's home allowed the writers to integrate Maya Rudolph into storylines much more naturally than in her early appearances, where she came across as an interruption rather that a participatory character. It also meant more material for series MVP Jennifer Hall -- who was always a reliable source of laughs as Reagan's bizarre assistant Missy -- and allow for a steady stream of guest stars (Molly Shannon! Megan Mullaly! Stevie Nicks!) to pass in and out of the studio. At the same time though, moving Reagan's home life to the background did at times reduce Arnett to being something of a third wheel, one who was often spun-off into his own lackluster B or C-plot week after week. Also lost in the shuffle was the thing that hooked me into the show in the first place -- the very funny, very accurate way it captured the plight of new parents. As I wrote in my review of the pilot back in September, Up All Night premiered months after my wife and I had our second child and the show's spot-on observations about having an infant in the house had us laughing in solidarity with Reagan and Chris. With little Amy now reduced to being a glorified guest star and her parents spending more time out and about (even Chris now seems to come and go from the house at will ever since they hired Molly Shannon to be the unseen nanny to their unseen baby), we just don't identify as strongly with them anymore. And while the show is still consistently amusing, it's hard not to miss that sense of relatability to what's happening onscreen.
We may not be alone in that. After debuting to strong ratings, Up All Night's numbers have been steadily sinking since September, even after it made the leap to the supposedly prime post-Office timeslot. Still, considering its high-profile cast and big-name producer (Lorne Michaels), it seems likely that the show will be back for another season, especially if The Office winds up getting rebooted or going off the air altogether. While we wait for the official announcement, here's a video scrapbook with some our favorite memories from the show's first season.
Making a List, Checking it Twice
Episode: "New Year's Eve"
Part of being a couple is learning to put up with your partner's actual (or perceived) flaws. Still, sometimes it's nice to clear the air and tell your S.O. exactly what things about them annoy/embarrass you in list form. This clip captures that process in all its messy and funny (to other people anyway) glory. And Chris? We also would be embarrassed by Reagan's aggressive aversion to Star Wars too.
Second Word, Same as the First
Episode: "First Birthday"
Any parent knows how all-important it is to record your baby's first word... especially if that first word happens to be "Mama" or "Dada." Here, Chris and Reagan compete for that crucial honor, a scene that's probably been played out in more households than supposedly mature adults would care to admit. (This is also an example of the kind of humor we started to miss when the workplace took center stage.)
His Name is Kevin
Episode: "First Night Away"
Ava's romantic life was an ongoing storyline throughout the season, but by far her best match was with Jason Lee's single dad, with Rudolph's manic intensity bouncing nicely off Lee's laid-back regular guy thing. We sincerely missed Kevin when he abruptly departed the series for a job in the Midwest and were happy to see him back in last night's finale. Here's hoping they'll find a way to bring him back to sunny Cali when the show returns.
Sing Out, Ava
Episode: "Working Late and Working It"
In the show's original pilot, Ava was introduced as a music producer -- a profession that was wisely changed to talk show host by the time the revised version hit the airwaves. But the music thing didn't go away entirely; instead, it was established that Ava had enjoyed a successful singing career before transitioning into Oprah-dom. Her musical past was exploited most successfully in the episode where an old flame, bad boy rapper B-Ro (played by Jorma Taccone) came back into her life and we got a peek at their signature collaboration in all its mid-'90s glory.
Missy's Time to Shine
Episode: "Hiring and Firing"
Like we said up top, we were big fans of Jennifer Hall's work as Missy all season long. The way she completely loses her shit here is just one of the reasons why.
Will and Christina, Together At Last
Episode: "Day After Valentine's Day"
Even in its weakest episodes, the chemistry between Arnett and Applegate kept Up All Night chugging along. Both great comic actors individually, they've often struggled to find co-stars worthy of their talents. (Remember the Arnett and Keri Russell fiasco that was Running Wilde? How about Applegate and Barry Watson on Samantha Who?) Here though, they make the perfect onscreen couple. We want the show to come back simply so that they're not forced to move on to other partners who don't deserve them.
Let's end this scrapbook with a reminder of how the show began -- with Reagan and Chris experiencing all the joys and frustrations of new parenthood. Congrats on surviving the first year -- we'd say it gets easier from here, but that would be a lie. See you again (maybe) in the fall, you crazy kids.
What are your favorite Up All Night Season 1 memories? Walk down memory lane in the comments below.
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