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Saturday, 31 of October of 2020

Psych – “Shawn and the Real Girl”

“First things first: I will be starring in a brand new
Tyler Perry sci-fi epic called I Ain’t Gettin’ on No Rocket.”

Mario stands over Shawn, about to brain him with a crystal vase.

Shawn must've took The Miz's belt.

I don’t know about you but I like my melodrama best when the women are catty, the problems are trivial, and the men are sensitive and subject to the whims of the chaotic women in their lives. So I don’t watch much WWE.

But I have been following Mike Mizanin since he was a young buck trying to play out his aggression fantasies and desperate need for human contact on men and women alike when he starred on The Real World: Back to New York. So many MTV competitions, so many opportunities to be in the spotlight and to show the world The Miz. As he’s grown up, his character has grown, too. He’s more defined. More confident. More — good lord, is he on steroids? What happened to my All-American Midwesterner?

I don’t know how The Miz was introduced into the WWE but he was credited in a particularly hilarious episode of Psych as “WWE Superstar The Miz.” And I can’t speak to whether John Cena plays his wrestling character when he stars in terrible action movies, but we definitely got The Miz and not Mike Mizanin as a contestant in kind of a crafty version of The Bachelorette. To be honest, this episode might be the jewel in the crown of what’s been a very solid season of Psych. It’s everything this show wants to be. And Shawn chases Gus around with another dude’s underpants.

Can we talk about the guest stars studding this episode? If I didn’t know any better (or if this was a show desperate for ratings like Chuck) I would accuse this show of stunt-casting this season, from William Shatner as Juliet’s dad to Kristy Swanson (in a vampire-themed Halloween episode) becoming Lassiter’s Abby. But The Miz joins ranks with Wayne Brady and Greg Grunberg, which may not be important to most but Wayne “Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch” Brady, the little pretend-wrestler that could, and Felicity‘s Blumberg are very important to my television nostalgia. My impulse is to say “spread it around” but I’m also horribly greedy. I only wish Grunberg could be a season regular but, alas, there’s not much room in Psych for a reality show producer caricature.

For a scripted show to do a send-up of reality is nothing new. In fact, much to Noel’s chagrin, it’s basically an established sit-com genre. But the intricacy of Psych‘s parody is impressive, from manipulative hosts who have jaded perspective and conscienceless insight to HFFA bachelorettes that don’t understand the difference between true love and being impressed with abs.

The episode is a scripted assault on the unscripted from creative on through production. The shots were pefect, the casting was exquisite. Even the reality show premise itself (the bachelors are people in the bachelorette’s life, with varying level of connections from a guy that had a crush on her in college to the model from a billboard she sees near her gym) is perfect, and, actually, not a bad idea for a show. In fact, there’s a lot of this episode that seems like the writers had a good time pitching their fake reality shows half-jokingly. I’d watch Man vs Pnuemonia.

We as a TV-watching public have reached a critical mass of sorts where we are able to find patterns in “reality” programming and are entertained when those tropes are either flouted or reconstructed. Reality television, overall, especially these well-established romantic competition shows, are so overproduced, The Hills sometimes looks more spontaneous. The “behind-the-scenes” look at Paths of Love proposes that there isn’t much of a difference between reality television and scripted entertainment. The former is just a shade of the latter performed like neo-realism of trivialities. And Psych captured it in a well-thought-out satire, right down to Gus trying to utilize his knowledge of these shows to his advantage.

But, of course, the girl can never pick the black guy.

The episode also featured something the show has been doing a lot lately that deserves some credit. They finally got Shawn and Juliet together and, somehow, this show didn’t turn into the Shawn and Juliet Show. Like grown ups, they don’t implicate everyone around them in their adolescent shenanigans (ahem, Chuck) and, for the most part, they are operating as they were before. The only differences are that Juliet will stand up for and listen to Shawn more often and there being opportunities for the relationship to affect her professional decision making, though, even with the latter, it’s really minor. They came closer to one thing I always thought Chuck should’ve tried but frittered away their opportunity: they dabbled in sexpionage when Shawn actually tried to play the game and won (with the help of some of Gus’s boring). Though the effect here is short-lived and comedic (especially when Shawn didn’t go through with it), a version on Chuck where Sarah has to bring down the bad guy by maybe getting down would’ve created a pretty interesting wrinkle.

But I digress about shows that are already gone.

The bottom line is that the episode is really sharp (see below) and, though I’m not saying they’re hitting their stride, I will say this is the strongest they’ve been in a while. They’re doing everything right and that’s tough to say for anything else on television.

Some other things of note:

  • While I feel like Shawn and Gus have been on point recently, Melinda talking about how close Shawn and Gus are felt almost unfounded. They didn’t really do a whole lot that made them appear “more into each other.” It made me want to say, “Girl, you don’t even know.” And then I do something sassy to let her know that I mean it.
  • “We’re not going to screw your loins.”
  • “That’s so 90s Huxtable.”
  • Why does Shawn always have a pillow in his lap? An affectation of James Roday being embarrassed of his gut? It happens, big guy.
  • They nailed all the reality show sequences. The bachelorette is just giggly and self-important enough, the “b-roll” is spot on, the confessionals are great. But there’s no way Melinda would remember that Kenny from The Cosby Show was nicknamed Bud. Not a chance. I didn’t remember and I know the Huxtable address (10 Stigwood Avenue).
  • Why is Gus wearing a purple Fed-Ex shirt in his confessionals?
  • “She rides pigs?”
  • Watching The Miz freak out makes me curious about whether he was brought on the show for a RAW tie-in. That should be clear (and probably understood) but it’s been established that Shawn and Gus are really into professional wrestling. I wonder why they didn’t make the tie-in more on the nose.
  • Also, on that note, I’m curious if the reason Mike Mizanin was credited as The Miz and not as himself (like Dwayne Johnson would be) is that Mike was acting as if The Miz was cast as Mario. Mike, if I recall, is a lot more like the milquetoast Danny in real life.
  • Sixpence None the Richer?
  • Hitchhiking was Jules and Lassie drive by = brilliant.
  • This is the second week in a row that he calls the culprit “Jack.” Has he been doing that and I’ve been missing it?
  • “I love making love. Especially on television.”
  • The highlight reel is impossible timewise but awesome everything-else-wise. Although, seriously, put the top on the ice cream. That’s just poor form.
  • As good as this episode was, I’m a little disappointed the case didn’t involve a Real Girl. Or Shawn trying to do a Ryan Gosling impression.

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