“I gotta get a viral video of this.”
“Roommates” is perhaps the strongest entry of Bedtime Stories yet, as it opens particularly strong with a pitch-perfect recreation and lampooning of cheesy ‘90s comedies. I initially thought that if this episode was given a little more distance from “The Bathroom Boys,” an episode that is satirizing very similar things, albeit slightly different, it might have had a little more impact. Very quickly though, this episode makes itself its own thing and establishes why it’s the better, more refined of the two episodes.
As we continue through all of this, Spanish and English title cards bookend everything, which might feel like some heavy handed Richard Linklater stylistic jab, but it becomes clear that it’s purely to service these outrageous characters. Characters who happen to be some of the most refreshing ones that we’ve gotten from this duo in awhile.
Franklin Bing (Tim) and Tony Dort (Eric) are pretty much an amalgam of traits we’ve seen them doing before, as they play beyond-struggling hipster actors, and new roommates, hoping to hit it big. I really can’t get over how Eric looks here, and while we’ve definitely seen him in more absurd costumes, the waxed mustache he’s sporting here just works so well. The fact that they’re both aping 20-somethings (and doing a great job at it) as they’re decades older than they should be helps sell this all the more and make it further surreal. They’re hopelessly out of touch, as they work Spanish clunkily into conversation, without a shred of pessimism in them.
The two of them trade stories of unfulfilling online videos they make, and classes they go to, while spinning it into gold as Latin jazz plays in the background. “I love your opinions,” Bing says to Dort, as these two continue to get increasingly depressing and delusional as they fail to stand out.
The Monday/Lunes morning ritual routine as Tony goes to ridiculous length preparing a cappuccino, with Franklin doing nearly a more complicated procedure to make a BM, Bloody Mary, is perhaps one of my favorite Tim and Eric pieces in a long time. Everything is working so well here. The drink preparations are marvels of work sequences that defy reality as conversation begins to drown in Spanish to the point of dialogue nearly becoming gibberish. When there is English, it’s filled with checkmarked stereotypes like “I haven’t got the sides,” or fawning over specialty products and niche items that push their satire so far over the edge. This idea is turned in on itself even more when this barista and mixologist go through the same thing in the second half of the episode to create a new drink, but the whole thing is played like a sloppy nightmare version of the former.
It’s also great to slowly see reality coming in on these guys, like Tony explaining how he was shot down at his acting and barista interviews, they completely call him on what we’ve been seeing the whole time. Meanwhile, Franklin’s mother struggles to understand what her son and roommate are saying, the Spanish façade just confusing her. A bartender continues to come up empty as none of the convoluted drinks that Franklin requests can be made, as he moans about the surface density of a drink. It’s all great juxtaposition and helps segregate these two even more.
After this considerable, appreciated groundwork is laid (this is also nearly a double episode, at twenty minutes, and the extra time really helps out the story here), the cracks in everything begin to show with Bing getting increasing suspicious of Dort and his mother’s behavior, as cold sores develop from “travel” and hearts are made in lattes. Tim’s incredulous through all of this is also some great stuff, constantly widening his eyes and micro-shaking his head in disbelief. It’s a welcome, smaller performance to the much bigger one Eric is taking on, and you know that a break is going to happen soon. And it does, when he catches them mutually masturbating together.
There are some revelations towards the end of the episode that don’t exactly feel natural or necessary. Finding out that Tony Dort is actually Tony Cheese, a former porno actor with a micro-penis who appeared in videos like “Dick Kicks,” while being very funny, doesn’t exactly feel like it meshes with everything else. I understand that some sort of divide needs to happen to split them up, but it could have been something drink-related, even. The reveal that Franklin’s mom has left Tony for another man, this one, not a mixologist or a barista, but a juicer is exceptional though. The idea that men in this world are just various types of liquid experts is so absurd and fun.
The ending is another wonderful set piece to the episode, as we see Franklin Bing’s one man show, which pretty much hits up all the tropes of bad theater, as we see a very sparse audience watch perplexed. Franklin rags on Tony, and while this works enough as an ending, with these roommates’ friendship effectively being over, perhaps there’s still hope. Tony not only is in Franklin’s audience, but he actually enjoyed the show.