By: Dru Johnston
‘That’ll be a hundred points each for singing to her so nicely, and a hundred and twenty five points each deducted for touching her.”
The experts that recap television shows for a living all agree: We are living in a golden age of television. But the HBO and AMC shows we love today were influenced and shaped by the classic shows of yesterday. We look at those shows. This week: Whose Line Is It Anyway, Season 1, Episode 4. The Denial.
In last week’s recap I declared that Whose Line Is It, Anyway? had jumped the shark in only its third episode. How wrong I was. Last week, while I was frantically trying to make sense of an episode that eschewed plot in favor of cheap gimmicks (the whole half hour was set in Drew’s dream, they kept playing short form improv games, etc.), I overlooked some SERIOUS foreshadowing, and in episode four it paid off in a big way. But that’s the genius of Whose Line Is It, Anyway? Much like Breaking Bad, WLIIA is a show that gives the audience what they need, not what they want.
Buried in last week’s recap I wrote this:
‘Throughout the episode Drew appears to be threatened by Wayne Brady’s sexuality. ‘If you’re a lady you’ll love Wayne Brady’ ‘ ‘1000 points for Wayne. The ladies love the way he walks.’ Later Drew bows to him. I sense a new Alpha ‘ or we might see recourse once we leave this dream episode.”
This observation was tossed aside, hidden in my ‘Last Thoughts of a Random Nature.’ Looking back I can see why I thought this was not important, merely a small detour in our journey as we watch Drew Carey’s moral compass slowly crumble. But it was foolish of me to even consider our host would allow a new Alpha. This is Drew Carey, a man who blatantly disregards whether or not points matter and a man who forces his unprepared friends to make up skits in front of a hundred-plus people. What happens when Drew’s sexual dominance is threatened? He kidnaps his cast and imprisons them in between episodes, leaving them starving for any kind of human or sexual contact. Welcome to ‘The Denial.’
Now this is only a theory, but I’m certain it’s right. Drew never blatantly says: ‘Welcome to Whose Line Is It, Anyway? I have imprisoned all of these improvers and I starve them of sex.’ Whose Line is much more subtle than this. But, much like Drew murdering Greg Proops in episode two, we find this in the subtext. Stop worrying about whose line it is, anyway, and look at what’s written between the lines.
Body language. That’s the first thing that popped out to me. On two occasions a woman is invited on stage, and in both we see our improvers longing for a woman’s touch. The most prominent example is found in the game ‘Duets’ as Drew welcomes an attractive young actress, Peyton, to the stage. She’s to be sung to by Wayne Brady and Brad Sherwood. Like clockwork Colin and Ryan approach her, sensing the pheromones in the air, trying to shake her hand, and they are immediately shut down by their captor. ‘This game's just for Brad and Wayne,” Drew scolds. But it doesn’t stop there. In fact it’s even worse for our two singers. As Peyton is ushered off the stage Wayne and Brad give her a hug, desperate for human contact, and Drew asserts his authority once again: ‘That’ll be a hundred points each for singing to her so nicely, and a hundred and twenty five points each deducted for touching her.” Negative twenty-five points. Sorry, Brad and Wayne, you were punished for performing the very task you were asked to do.
It’s clear from this interaction that these performers are desperate for female contact. It’s unclear whether this is because Drew has imprisoned them for weeks in a sexless dungeon, torturing them in exile while simultaneously ensuring his own procreation by eliminating the competition, or if they’re just short form improvers who love attention, but my gut says it’s the former. This is Whose Line after all.
And as if it wasn’t clear enough the rest of the episode drops numerous hints alluding to this stark reality. At the end of ‘Animals’, a game where they are forced to be chimpanzees, our improvers hit a tableau: ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.’ No worries Drew. No one will tell. Then after party quirks this chilling interaction occurs:
Drew: Gazelle, deer ‘ who can tell the difference. That’s how I ended up in jail.
Brad: You’re going to get a warning ‘
The deer/gazelle thing makes no sense so I only assume this is Brad’s cry for help. You’re not getting away with this, Drew. And then, in the game ‘Newscasters,’ a clearly sex-starved Brad comes up with these names: Richard Sportwood, Peter Longfellow, Jerry Throbmortin and, most egregiously, Carlos NicePackage. These are not names of newsmen. These are names of penises. Clearly sex on the brain.
This episode was an A+ for me. They nailed the drama, they nailed the subtext, and despite being on ABC Family they somehow managed to be darker than anything I’ve seen on HBO. Clearly the people at Whose Line know what they’re doing, and I’m very excited to see how this plays out.
They say that in great drama your characters want to either fuck or kill. Drew’s already killed (R.I.P. Greg Proops), and now he’s looking to fuck. Or at least make sure no one else is. Watch your back. Drew’s got it.
LAST THOUGHTS OF A RANDOM NATURE
- In another example of sexual repression, Ryan is visibly angry when he gets audience member Wes instead of Melony to move him around in Moving People. You see the jealousy in his face and comically over exaggerated reactions.
- In the game Animals, Drew makes them all act like Chimpanzees, a somewhat violent and territorial primate. Clearly symbolism. Drew is making them fight for sexual territory while he sits atop a throne. Dance monkeys. Dance.
- I’m curious as to what will happen to Laura Hall’s character. So far she’s added a lot of music, not a lot of plot. But we’ve still got 16 episodes left in the season.
- Speaking of 16 episodes left, I can’t even imagine what lies in store if sexual imprisonment is what Whose Line has for us in week four. Very exciting.
- The woman behind Drew’s left shoulder loves watching these improvers to an insane degree. Watch out for her while you watch.
- I think Brad’s hazing is done. Drew let him get away with a lot of shoddy guesses during party quirks.
- While I was watching ‘Props,’ I spit milk out of my nose because I was laughing so hard because it was funny and silly and Brad pretended there was a giant parrot.