One And Done: Trash

One and Done Trash indexWritten by the late, often great Chris Thompson, creator of the short lived Hollywood satire Action and also one of the writers for The Larry Sanders Show, this sitcom pilot was directed by Michael “Heathers” Lehmann, so due to those involved I was expecting a sharp and possibly quite strange pilot. And that’s exactly what I got, though it’s a little more surreal and unusual than the show I thought it’d be, and mostly all the better for it.

Set in a Mobile Home Community which is divided in to two sections, Paradise and Shangri-La, the latter is the most desirable section of the park due to “it being up wind from the pet crematorium” according to Mrs. Von Krupp (Dot-Marie Jones) and her husband Gunther (Ed Gale), who have quite the unusual back story as back in the eighties she was married to the ambassador to West Germany and working for the CIA, but when she was caught spying Gunther was the West German Colonel who couldn’t bring himself to attach electrodes to her genitals, and love blossomed. We learn all of this in the opening two minutes, so you can see what I mean by the fact that this isn’t exactly your standard network sitcom.

The reason we’re hearing their story is because Richard ‘Mac’ Macadoo (Mike Erwin) is filming them, making a documentary about their lives, and the rest of the episode is a mixture of him talking to and filming various unusual types, hanging out with his friend Gypsy (Samaire Armstrong), and there’s a minor subplot about how he needs a car to pass his driving test, so Gypsy’s brother Billy (Todd Lowe) lends him one but unfortunately for all involved it’s a stolen car and soon Billy’s in Juvenile Detention and vowing revenge upon Mac for grassing him up.

There’s also a romantic element as out of nowhere while working as a lawn boy at the local country club the rather under dressed Luna Blue (Katherine Boecher) falls madly in love with Mac, as Coldplay’s The Scientist plays in the background in nearly every scene they’re together. This is easily the weakest element of the episode and not just because of that fucking Coldplay song, but mainly as Luna isn’t given much to do than wear hardly any clothes and say lines like “Seems like every time I see you I get wet” and though there’s a literal non-sexual aspect to such a comment it’s still clearly crass and a little painful to hear. Luna’s given no character development at all apart from “Woman who inexplicably is madly in love with our lead character before she even speaks to him, and then only grows to adore him even more” and it’s a shame it’s such a lazy part of the show.

It is there for a reason, as Luna’s father Bud (Richard Burgi) doesn’t want her to be dating trailer trash, especially as he used to fuck Mac’s Mother Lisa (Lisa Blount) when they were younger. Cue a flashback as we see them together when they were teenagers as after refusing to take her to the prom Lisa fills Bud’s limousine with sewage, in a scene which is vaguely amusing but not as hilarious as it appears to think it is. That’s also the case as Mac also takes revenge upon Bud at the end after a stern speech from the man, and eh, it’s kind of amusing but nothing more than that, which is a shame as the rest of the episode is much much better.

That’s mainly because when it’s not concentrating on the romantic plotline it’s a much sillier and stranger show. When Mac gets Billy sent off to “juvie” he fears that Mac’s revenge upon him will be a terrible and traumatic incident, but instead Billy just thanks him for sending him books to read while locked up, and it turns out he’s a big fan of The Hobbit. Yes, there’s then a brief bit of testicular related violence, but it’s the only bland bit of a plotline which is unpredictable and nicely odd.

Mac’s interviews where he talks to the residents of the trailer park can also be described as that too, and while many a show either patronises or downright insults the people who live in such places Trash treats them with respect, and lets them tell their tales without any judgement. As well as the opening interview with the now married former spy and German colonel there’s also a segment where an older man talks about his passion for pulling vehicles with his teeth, including trains and planes, and how he hopes his son will follow in his footsteps, leading to one of the strangest (but funniest) visual gags I’ve seen in a long time where it turns out the baby is already in training to do this, and we learn this as he’s skilled at hanging on to his mother’s nipple. Which may sound weird, and yes, yes it is, but it is very funny too.

As you can tell from all of the above it’s a very uneven creation, at times gloriously odd and funny, occasionally a little crass and weird, but you can definitely count me in as a fan overall. If it had dropped the romantic element, or at least given Luna dialogue which passed the Bechdel test and didn’t revolve around what a dreamboat Mac supposedly is, and concentrated a little more on the films he’s making this could have been a fairly unique sitcom. So it’s a real shame Thompson wasn’t given the chance to make it, especially as afterwards his career never quite hit its previous heights and his final work was sadly a rather insipid Disney comedy show.

★★★1/2

Alex Finch.
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