Detroiters S1E6, “The 3rd Floor”

Again, we get a typically low-key, low-stakes plot this week on Detroiters. We open with a great bit that typifies the care and touch of the Cramblin-Duvet brand: A commercial for Lindsay’s Mirror Depot, which just cuts between shots of all the different types of mirrors in the store, shows Sam or Tim (or both, and occasionally the camera and their one employee Lea) reflected in those mirrors in every shot. (In another great runner, Sam and Tim keep asking Lea to fix the problem by “digitizing it,” which they insist is a real thing.) The boys decide to put a pin in the commercial, as it’s 6 PM and time for the weekend. But when they go, Tim reveals he has to make a “stop at the 3rd floor,” leading to an elaborate series of jokes between Tim and Sam about what he’s actually doing: taking a dump in the handicapped restroom on the currently-unoccupied floor. (I think they cover most of the common metaphors for taking a dump, though.)

Cut to Monday, and Sam prepares to do the same, only to discover to his horror, a new business has moved in. His ear-ringing horror and disorientation is, I assume, a parody of some movie I’ve not seen (Cloverfield?) but it leads into another great scene, where Sam breaks the news to Tim, and Tim responds by attacking Sam. (Of course Tim only has one move: choking Sam. Of course, Sam defends it rather easily.)

Naturally, they hate the new business immediately, although a couple of their reasons are more valid than “they took our secret dump spot”: They call themselves “Detroit Tech Company” even though they just moved here from Denver, and Toby, the DTC employee they meet, gives an incredibly bullshit-sounding explanation of what DTC does: “Automated customer communication. Basically, we want to do for the service repair industry, what Home Depot did for hammers and nails.”

Tim and Sam even sniff this latter one out as they talk back at the office:

“I mean, I think hammers did more for Home Depot than Home Depot did for hammers!”
“Right? I mean, how do you even build a Home Depot without a hammer?”

But then Sam forgets the new situation and launches into his playful shit-talking (literally) with Tim, only to remember that their only bathroom is now the one behind elderly receptionist Sheila’s desk. (The change in Sam Richardson’s expression upon remembering this is a real fantastic moment of acting.) Of course, he tries to get her to leave while he’s in there, and she won’t, and afterwards she seems remarkably okay with it. (Sam continues to act like she’s the one freaking out, not him, which confuses Tim: “Is Sheila refusing to poop again?”)

Then they see a magazine with DTC on the cover and “SAVING DETROIT” as the headline, which angers them even further. However, their insistence that the city is fine and safe contradicts their instructions to Toby and Abigail, another worker they meet, that they should definitely, definitely not take the 12-minute walk to the lunch spot and should drive.) Sam is attracted to Abigail, which leads him into some standard weird behavior around her. (His deepening voice is hilarious.) His reaction slightly conflicts with what we saw in “Sam the Man,” but it’s forgivable because it’s funny, and people contain multitudes. Anyhow, this leads him to lie to Tim about why he’s leaving work early; as he puts it later, Tim “can get kinda mad at everything.” Instead of going home sick, he joins Abigail and DTC on a “pedal pub,” something I still think is among the worst ideas we’ve ever come up with. (“Hey, what if we mixed exercise and drinking, and also, clogged up a public road while we did so?”) Sam himself discovers this, as he can barely walk the next day after two-plus hours of pedaling.

Unfortunately, Tim sees Sam on the Pedal Pub, leading him to order a Revenge Pedal Pub (three words I never thought I’d type in succession) the next day. Cramblin-Duvet’s four employees try pedaling themselves (and Sheila spikes her beer with something from a flask!) before Lea and Sheila bail (to go, as Lea sanely puts it, “to a bar that doesn’t move”), and Sam and Tim reconcile.

Oh, and the “digitize it” runner pays off when DTC actually does “digitize” the commercial and it comes out looking great. (We don’t see it, but Lindsay is very pleased. Lea gives Tim and Sam the finger when they rub it in her face.) The episode ends when the elevator stops on the second floor unexpectedly… and an employee from Detroit Belt Company (says Toby, “They just moved here from Seattle”) steps on. And the cycle of gentrification and stolen authenticity continues.

“Yeah, but it’s good for the city.”

Well, this ended up being more recap than analysis, but like most Detroiters episodes, the genius is in the character interactions, the specificities, and Tim and Sam’s chemistry. (It’s not easy to believably portray two men having such a comfortable relationship talking about poops together.) I liked the touches on gentrification and on the way companies like ETC trade on the idea of authenticity. It particularly came with a believable edge of “Look, we may talk crap about our town, but it’s our town. You have no right to come in here and tell us this place needs to be saved.” A hometown is like family that way.

This week in “Pitches From Ned the Security Guard”

“Campbell’s Soup: It’s just wet-ass food!”
“Baloney: Because it’s all the meats.”

Stray Quotes and Observations

  • Little moments I love: After the closing phone call with Lindsay of Lindsay’s Mirror Depot, the reveal that Sam is now using a wheelchair because he can’t walk after two consecutive days of Pedal Pub. And then the brief cuts of Sam screaming as he tries to walk.
  • When Sam ditches Tim for Pedal Pub, Tim sends him off with “I love you and I trust you.” Really driving the old betrayal home.
  • Sam demonstrates the new WiFi ETC has installed to Tim:
    -“It’s a JOI video. Jerk off instruction porn.”
    -“They tell you how to jerk off?”
    -“They tell you why to jerk off.”
  • Tim drives a spearmint-green Chrysler LeBaron. I don’t know why that matters to me– probably because a LeBaron sedan hasn’t been produced since 1994 (and Tim’s looks like an older model than that).
  • Apparently Sam’s butthole is named Frederick. And Tim knows this.
  • I love this show’s theme song. Although not enough to pay $1.29 for the full version.