First, shout out to The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh for highlighting Detroiters today; our brilliant but underappreciated show needs all the publicity and support it can get. Ratings haven’t been great, but hopefully it’s doing well enough, and starting to get enough critical buzz, that a network that’s developed a strong reputation for giving funny people creative freedom under Kent Alterman (first head of programming, now president of Comedy Central) will give it a third season.
This episode has a pretty simple plot that spins out into a lot of great jokes and moments, a sterling example of the detailed world and character work Detroiters has built. On a double date at Tim and Chrissy’s house (I think– Sam and Tim do live next door to each other, after all), the four (Sam is still dating Shannon) catch a commercial Cramblin-Duvet made for Farmer Zack’s, a local grocery store. The song for the commercial is a local favorite, and it’s run for a while now– but the vocals were recorded by Sam and his ex-girlfriend Molly (whom we first saw in season 1’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. Duvet.” Sam starts to feel awkward about watching this with Shannon, especially since she’s a gospel singer, so to avoid the awkwardness he decides C-D should pitch Farmer Zack’s on re-recording the song with Shannon, perhaps updating the jingle. Interestingly, we don’t see Shannon really feel uncomfortable with it at all, but of course she’s happy to get a chance to record the new jingle.
What Sam discovers is that he and Shannon don’t have nearly the chemistry he and Molly did, and after Farmer Zack* hears their version of the commercial, he wants Sam to re-record it with Molly. This leads to some complicated feelings for Sam– both about how things ended with Molly and about the realization, especially after they’re in the recording booth, that he just doesn’t have the same chemistry with Shannon. The new commercial is a success, and Sam ends up breaking up with her.
(* – I think “Farmer Zack” is just a mascot, and not the name of Faizon Love’s character, but I didn’t catch what it was, so I’m calling him Farmer Zack.)
Meanwhile, Tim walks through the background of one of Chrissy’s YouTube hair care videos. She tells him to stop that because the commenters make fun of him. Tim betrays one of the bedrock pieces of Internet wisdom– don’t read the comments— and gets himself all worked up, eventually recording an Anonymous-style video threatening the commenters for making fun of him.
This is one of the funniest parts of the episodes. I mean, look at Tim. Great guy, but many roastable qualities, and the episode isn’t afraid to just mine joke after joke from the commenters going off on Tim Robinson’s appearance. Some highlights:
- “When did Chucky grow up and get ugly?”
- “Looks like the McRib is back.”
- “I love your tutorials, but your husband’s not hot enough for you.”
- “Watch out, Chrissy, there’s a fat ghost in your room!”
And the main plot spins out just multiple hilarious sequences, whether it’s Sam’s interactions with women, Tim getting hit on by the prisoner cuffed in Molly’s car, Mort Crim, or Farmer Zack himself. Love commits to a very weird character and his strange details add so much comedy and the necessary sense of specificity that makes him a real part of this show. Whether his continued insistence of evaluating the commercial jingle based on whether it gives him “wood”, his dismissal of the pee stains on his pants, or his proposed redesign of “Farmer Zack’s” hokey look, which eventually makes him look like Wesley Snipes in Blade. (Farmer Zack– not the mascot– rocks the full-length leather trenchcoat, too.) Love really brings it this episode. Great writing, too. Just a ton of funny segments, and a believable way for the Sam-Shannon relationship to end (which seems predestined when Tim and Chrissy are annoyed by her and find her snobbish in the cold open to the episode). Back-to-back weeks we’ve had two episodes that almost definitely stand as the best of the season. Tell your friends!
- Mort Crim Watch: The episode opens with his “Chump of the Week” segment. This week: His son’s best friend Tucker, who slept over and got a nosebleed, bleeding on a lot of Mort’s stuff. Also, after the original Farmer Zack commercial plays after the segment: “I normally don’t comment on the commercials, but that one made me horny.”
- In the opening segment we cut to various Detroit residents watching the Farmer Zack commercial, including Sheila (who seems to have a gentleman caller over) and Tommy Pencils (in bed with his iguana).
- Tim: “We’ve been doing Sudoku puzzles so we don’t go nuts when we get older.” Extremely relateable content.
- We meet Farmer Zack berating a boy who’s shoplifted some Kotex and banning him from the store. Lot going on there.
- Apparently a regular at Farmer Zack’s likes to stick his dick in the melons. (Tim and Sam are on it after a lady accidentally takes that melon.)
- When Shannon and Sam are in bed, she’s reading Steve Harvey Reacts to Things, and he’s reading Karn on the Cobb, a book by Richard Karn (AKA Al from Home Improvement) about Ty Cobb. That might be one of the best background gags you see on TV all year, all the more so because it actually manages to be Detroit-centric. (30 Rock might do something like that, but it wouldn’t be as location-specific.)
- Shout out to graphic designer David Boyd for his work on these books; while looking for a screenshot I found his website, which displays some of the designs he made for Detroiters and other media. You can view them here, including multiple fake Steve Harvey books.
- Tim explains to Chrissy why Shannon isn’t right for Sam. “When Sam’s around her, he’s completely lost his star factor.” “What?”
- Master of metaphor Tim again, now explaining his feelings about the Sam-Shannon jingle to Lea: “It was like feeling up a girl and there’s turds in her bra.” “Turds in her bra? Why would there be turds in her bra?” “It’s a prank, idiot.”
- Tim getting hit on by Molly’s arrestee is really something, not the least of which is for Tim’s bashful reactions. Also, “Molly, can I get your keys and let him out of the car? He wants to get a good look at my body.” “No! He murdered someone!” “RICKY!”
- Sam and Molly were about to be engaged, but Sam hid the diamond ring in a cake, and Molly ate the cake, “and then, when we went through your stool, there were two diamond rings in there. That’s how I knew you were cheating on me.”
- “Tim, you clogged the toilet again. I told you, stop flushing baby wipes.”
- “Ladies and gentlemen, we have genuine wood!”
- Final words of wisdom from Mort Crim, after seeing the new Farmer Zack’s commercial: “Blade is so freaking cool.”