For a show where the protagonist is living in his dead mother’s house, we sure haven’t seen him have to confront the reality of said dead mother and his feelings about it. Well, fret not; “Rosemary’s Boyfriend” finally brings that into play, in an episode I thought was delightful.
Jack finds an unexpected ring at the door one morning before class– it’s an older gentleman holding balloons and condoms, here to see Jack’s mother Rosemary on her birthday, only to be devastated when Jack breaks the news of her death. Jack keeps badgering him as to the particular nature of the gifts he brought, and of course he eventually reveals they were lovers, although “She was so much more than a fanny call.” “You mean booty?”
Also, his name is Brandon, which perturbs Jack. (It’s really not an older-gentleman name, is it?)
Jack is upset by this, as so many men are weirdly protective of their mother’s / sister’s / daughter’s sexuality, so he storms into class to break the news to them and to tell them that today’s plan is to find a way to devastate Brandon.
The kids are actually sharp enough to call him out on this one. They ask if he’s having trouble processing his grief, because he’s being so glib that his mother’s… “Dead? Yeah, well, that is the adjective that best describes her. I’d say you guys should be more concerned if I describe her as ‘alive.’ Or ‘Mommy, who resides in the attic.'” Frustrated both by their unwillingness to help and by the runner of fake crying babies that the kids are carrying around as part of health class, he storms out to try to get Principal Durbin to do something about the babies, so he can get his kids focused on… (Durbin prompts him: “Passing the A.P. test.”)
Back in the classroom, Jack divides the students up into the A-squad (on “Devastating Brandon” duty) and B-squad (watching the robot babies). Marcus calling Jack out on being a prude leads him to remind everyone he’s had sex with 24 women (which is something he apparently does often enough that they can recite the number as he says it). Sarika (despite being in B-squad) finds out that Brandon has a daughter, Sadie, who’s a personal injury lawyer, so Jack makes an appointment with her so he can drop the knowledge on her to cause them to fight.
However, she already knows, and feels roughly as Jack does. So they have sex in her office to get back at their parents. Cue Jack returning to class and triumphantly updating the number on the board to “25.” (Anthony: “So you just had sex before work?”) Jack prepares to drop this bombshell on Brandon at his mother’s grave, but of course, Brandon is fine with it. (“I’m what you call ‘sex-positive.’ Daughters have sex, Jack. So do mothers. And it seems our families generate some pretty potent sexual chemistry.”) This leads Jack to plan B: Sucker punch. It fails, and even better, Brandon gets a good lick in on him and actually wins the fight.
In the B-plot, the janitor Dale asks Stef out, but after first being pretty blunt about it, she tries to let him down by telling him Mary is interested in him. He goes to break the news to her, but she thinks he’s gone too far, so she hatches a plan to seduce him by leaving sexy trash. It doesn’t work on him, though it does work on Ron Funches’ janitor. Naturally, Mary gets out of this by telling him that Stef is interested in him.
This one had a ton of funny lines I didn’t quote– Jack referring to Brandon(s) as “wrinkly old gigolos who travel from town to town, seducing innocent old moms who just want to enjoy a nice day at the rodeo” and “traveling pervert” stood out to me, as well as Sadie’s description of Brandon and Rosemary as “two white raisins stuck together.” I’ll leave some more for all of you.
The ending really made the episode work for me– of course Jack had some unprocessed feelings to deal with, but it would have been too trite for him to break down in tears of grief. Instead, he calmly collects all the robot babies and submerges them in the school pool. At last, peace– and in what would be a shockingly sociopathic and inhumane way, if they weren’t annoying malfunctioning discount robot babies. Don’t worry, Jack and A.P. Bio aren’t going soft on us anytime soon.
- Jack tries to get the kids to throw the babies in the closet. Marcus: “Mr. Griffin, these simulators measure how well we take care of them.” Sarika: “If we abandon them in the closet, we’ll get an F in health.” Jack: “What? Threatening Fs is my thing.”
- The janitor plotline kicks off when Jack misses the trash with an apple, which he also did last week. Is this happening every week and I’m just now catching onto it?
- Sarika, future mother of the year: “I have tried all of the cuddle configurations in the manual and none of them work.”
- Durbin: “The only thing we’re allowed to say about condoms is that they are 2% ineffective, and everybody is watching you while you buy them.” Sadly, this is probably not even an exaggeration of actual abstinence-based education.
- Hilariously, we get another example of the students being more mature than the teachers, as they grill Jack about whether he’s considered the consequences of having sex with Sadie. It seems he has not. “No, we were safe. We were safe. It’s fine. It’s fine. I think… I think we’ll be fine.”
- Colin: “At what age do you think we’ll start happening into ‘organic, wonderful lovemaking’?” Victor: “I don’t think we’re those kind of guys.”
- Michelle on why the babies have to go: “Coach Novak threw a dirty diaper at my head! … which I’m now realizing must have been from his nephew or something… which means he drove to school with it!”
Not as strong as her last outing, but we got a few good lines from her:
- Jack fishing for ideas on how to devastate Brandon. Heather: “Two words: Sucker punch.” Jack: “All right, that’s in the right area. Can’t do that, though. Fighting an old man’s kinda what got me banished to Toledo in the first place.”
- And following up on that, after Jack shows up with the black eye Brandon gave him: “So why’d he knock you around then?” “Well, because I tried to sucker punch him, Heather!”
- Her reaction to Jack taking the fake babies away from everyone: “He took them all. We’re free.”
- My favorite moment, though, was her reaction when Jack changes the number on the board from “24” to “25”, eager to hear more and with that little grin at the end (they cut away just before we really get to see it form, but you can catch it):