When Stuart throws a pool party, it begins getting good the minute he leaves. And while Hello Ladies would have us believe that this is just a quirk of timing and sad twist of fate, is it really? The fact of the matter is that a couple of the “cool” guests, i.e. the young and attractive ones, already arrived while he was around. It’s just that his obnoxiousness as a host prevented them from having a good time. After all, Stuart’s party may not be an A-list exclusive affair, but it has free drinks and a DJ. If no one’s forcing the fun out of the situation, that’s not a bad evening. If Stuart’s around, though, then someone is always doing precisely that.
Which isn’t to say that “Pool Party” wasn’t an enjoyable episode, but it’s one that took the easy way out in the end. It was an episode, as much of the show is, about trying to force things to happen. Stuart’s not being invited to parties, so he’ll make one of his own. It’s rather crazy, in fact, how successful he ends up being in this attempt, considering that few he invited have any idea who he is. Yet ultimately, before the young and beautiful arrive, Stuart’s the only one not enjoying himself. Stuart set up a situation he’s terrible at dealing with, and it doesn’t matter whether he’s the host of a party or a guest; he’s simply learned all the wrong things about attending a party. His sad desperation is, as usual the fuel that makes the episode funny, not to mention the driving force of its story.
There’s very little plot in “Pool Party,” but unfortunately the twist at the end made the episode too pat and obvious for my taste. The irony of Stuart being kept out of his own exclusive party was great for a moment, but it was both unrealistic that the security care that much and also a pretty dumb idea in the first place. Why, after all, would people head to a party when they can’t invite their friends? It was too easy an end to the episode, which is why it felt disappointing when Stuart could’ve had just as miserable a night keeping that incredibly fun party from happening in the first place. It was as disappointing as Hello Ladies continuing with Stuart’s obsession with the girl on the billboard, who I continue to wish were not a real person at all. At this point it seems destined that he go out with her by the end of the season, but the sort of wish-fulfillment of her even answering his calls is still a letdown.
Back at their house, Jessica spent the episode adopting a homeless young woman only to find herself irritated by how the woman lives her life. It was entertaining material, but the way it kept Jessica from interacting with the pool party was disappointing, and the observations of the episode about how this entire story went were pretty obvious. It might just be that I kept waiting for Jessica to bring her to the pool party, but the very simple “she likes smoking and doesn’t like working” approach to the homeless woman’s character was frustrating and simple. She was a TV character, not a person, so while there were funny moments there was nothing that felt particularly true or interesting here, making the entire part of the episode forgettable. Very funny at times, of course, but utterly disposable as a whole.
The end result was fine, but not nearly as satisfying or devastating as Hello Ladies’ best episodes. It’s great that the show has a real continuity, but the lack of an sort of overarching plot seems to be hurting the show at this point. Of course that’s part of its offbeat tone, the way it’s a scattered series of events that don’t come to anything, but it would be nice to see Hello Ladies pick up some momentum, even if that seems a bit antithetical to its particular brand of depressing realism.