'The New Adventures of Old Christine' - 'Sweet Charity' Recap
by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 4th 2010 4:24AM
(S05E15) As much as I don't want to compare Julia Louis-Dreyfus' new show to her old one, I can't help but notice some similarities with this week's installment. Much of what made 'Seinfeld' work was in the way people outside of that core four reacted to just how deplorable those people really were. When we were in that inner circle with them, it all sort of worked and we didn't really realize how bad they were.
Now, Christine Cambpell is far more obviously a terrible person than Elaine Benes, but as with 'Seinfeld,' we often don't realize just how horrible she is. Even moreso, when put in the context of Christine, Richard and Matthew, Barb often comes across as the only sane and rational one. And yet, when you put these people out and on display in front of so-called normal people, they simply look awful.
Ultimately, though, it's not even the question of what to do with the $2,000 Barb and Christine surprisingly made in profit at the gym that was their moral conundrum. It was how they handled themselves throughout the episode as they struggled with the decision. Really, it was mostly Christine struggling with her guilt over not being seen as a good person, and the $2000 designer dress she really wanted.
As we've come to expect, everything that could go wrong went wrong, and Christine was made to look all the worse for it. What makes it work is that we know she's selfish and insecure. She didn't even care about the kid she was going to sponsor with her money in charity, it was so that Barb would see she was a good person by not being selfish with the money.
Unfortunately for Christine, Barb had opted out of giving the money to charity, instead investing it in a theater-style popcorn machine. Christine topped her on that one by canceling her check to charity in order to once and for all buy that damned dress. And through all of her waffling over what was and wasn't the right thing to do, Ed Begley Jr. was there as her priest and spiritual adviser.
I'll give him credit for trying his hardest to get Christine to see her right path without spelling it out directly for her, but he hasn't seen four-and-a-half seasons of this like we have. Then, her bull-headedness caused her to blow her two grand on the dress she wanted in the wrong size, because how dare a sales clerk tell her she's not a size zero!
The scene in the office with Christine stapled into her dress, and Barb too bloated on salt to move properly while gorging on popcorn was worth all the set-up to get there. It's classic sitcom cause and effect leading to ridiculous situations like this, but that's what makes them fun.
Even Richard's "secret job" is certainly nothing new in the world of sitcoms, but it was a bit surprising that Christine paid to get his transmission fixed so he could quit the job. I'm not sure, though, how she would have gotten her money back considering she ripped the dress and then we saw it on her sponsee in the photo Barb showed at the end.
Maybe it was Barb who paid for Richard's transmission repair with the money she got back from returning the popcorn machine. That would make Christine as bad as Matthew for fighting over the credit for the good deed when Richard assumed Matthew had paid for the repairs and Matthew went along with it, even though he most certainly had nothing to do with it.
We only got the briefest of scenes with the mean moms and Ritchie this week; in fact, Ritchie only got one line, though it was a good one. He barely had to think before answering the question: "Am I a bad person?" from his mother. "Yes."