This week’s episode may be called “Keep Looking,” but it’s definitely all about the Macho-Cheesmo. That’s Vince’s mangling of Jess’ favored term “machismo,” but I like to think that Friday Night Lights has invented a whole new term. Macho-Cheesmo is when you take something that would be a cheesy situation on a lesser TV show, you put some great actors in it, you spice it up with some strong dialogue, you run it all through the FNL-a-tron, and boom, you’ve got a Macho-Cheesmo situation. Better than cheesy, and something you want to keep coming back to over and over again.
And who is the king of Macho-Cheesmo? Well, this week Macho-Cheesmo has no king, just a queen: Queen Mindy Collette Riggins, the baddest Macho-Cheesmo in all of Dillon and surrounding areas. Mindy, with her stripper past (and future, it seems), Mindy, with her furious work-out routines, Mindy, with her marriage to, of all people, Billy Riggins? Yes, Mindy.
Why is she the queen of Macho-Cheesmo? Because we all knew that Mindy was going to start warming to Becky by the end of the episode. We all knew that when she took Becky back to her father, Mindy was going to stand up for Becky. We all knew just where this whole arc was going, but you know what? It was still great. She made it all work. It was a righteous victory for Mindy, who, like her husband, is making an amazing transition from ridiculous side character to someone we really care about. Plus she’s still willing to threaten Billy with a good old-fashioned face-stabbing. All hail the queen of Macho-Cheesmo.
It was a bye week in East Dillon so we have a lot more personal life than football this episode. Becky made me feel all kinds of old by suggesting a ‘90s-themed school dance, but her friends wisely went with “Enchantment Under the Sea.” Oops, my bad. That’s me being in my thirties again. No, it was Texas Luau, which caused the women to wear bikinis and the men to wear Hawaiian shirts. Sounds like a terrible trade-off for the straight female/gay male demographic. And for all the Hastings Ruckle fans out there. (I assume you’re called “Ruckwads,” or “Rucking Broncos” or “Hasty Puddings,” right?)
But who messed up the sanctity of the dance? Why, it’s the return of Epyck and her crew. (Who SMOKE!!! THOSE BASTARDS!!!!!) Epyck wasn’t allowed into the dance because she was suspended for fighting in Homework Club. And the first rule of Homework Club is don’t make tired references to movies that are more than a decade-old. Epyck evidently went to Michelle Rodriguez-acting school, because she seems to have two emotions: agitated anger and angry agitation. (It reminds me of the range of Andrew Shue on Melrose Place: confused annoyance and annoyed confusion.) Very little Macho-Cheesmo for Epyck. Queen Mindy will force you to work her day shifts.
You know who’s not at the dance? Buddy Jr. (played by Jeff Rosick, who looks so much like Brad Leland (Buddy Sr.) that he should do a Maury-style paternity test) is all kinds of messed-up at the start of the episode. He’s drinking too much, stealing his father’s credit card and car, and staring at Tami’s chest (2 out of 3 of those are problems) (Well, maybe 1 out of 3). Why is he doing all this? Because he doesn’t know he loves football yet. Well, that’s not actually why, but it seems like it was all leading to Buddy parenting through football, which isn’t the worst thing in the world (as Vince, who’s experienced less than stellar parenting, can tell you). Buddy’s got the Macho-Cheesmo in him too and he knows that what Eric is going to give Buddy Jr. on the field is far superior to the platitudes Buddy himself can dole out over a steak.
Quick side-note: Look, I know I don’t write recaps for Justified, but dear sweet Lord, did it just have an amazing season! If you like FNL, I know you like good TV shows, so go back and watch the first two seasons of Justified. Utterly fantastic stuff, and Margo Martindale should be awarded an Emmy right now without anybody voting. She was just that great this season.
Speaking of Vince (you don’t read this, you speak it, right?), he’s got a little bit of Macho-Cheesmo himself when he keeps coming at his dad. I was shaking my head at this at first, because I thought we tread this ground already last week, but it turns out it actually was all about his mother and making sure she doesn’t go back to drugs. The love Vince has for his mother is a really different thing that the show hasn’t explored before and I enjoy it. With Smash, his mother was his fierce protector, advocate, and scolder, but Vince has to be his mother’s protector. It’s a new take and a really good one. Plus, Vince being ushered from the guided tour of the college into the room with all of the coaches … it could’ve been cheesy, but I got chills. And the smile on Vince’s face sold it all.
And not quite the queen, but maybe a lady in waiting of Macho-Cheesmo, is Jess, who proves she can go back and forth with the guys in the locker room without missing a beat. Plus she can evaluate talent better than Billy Riggins and hit a quarterback in the back of his head like nobody’s business. With all of these skills, I see coaching in her future.
Finally, because I have to say something about it: Snooze to Julie. Your story line is nothing but cheese. And not even a delicious imported one. Just boring American cheese. Maybe it’s not even real cheese, just a cheese food, a cheese-like product. Ugh. Well, I guess we can’t all be Queen Mindy.
But we should try.
A few more quick thoughts:
- Look, I’m not a vegetarian, but when prepared right, seitan can be really tasty.
- I have to applaud the show for going back to the Luke & Becky relationship. Lesser shows would have never paired them up again because they’d be afraid of revisiting the abortion storyline.
- Shouldn’t farmers be in the field during the day, you know, farming, instead of being at the Landing Strip? (which was the name of the strip club near the airport where I grew up, in case you were curious. Oh, you weren’t? All right then, carry on.)
- I learned from doing research that Tinker’s first name is Dallas. I have nothing funny to say about that except that Dallas Tinker is almost as fun to say as Hastings Ruckle.
- Loved getting a shot of Tim Riggins, even if it was just a picture. Hope he’s coming back soon.
All right, Cheesmofo’s and Ruckwads, I’ve got tickets on the 50 yard line in the comments section. Who wants to join me there?