Vicious Review: “Gym”

photo credit: pbs.org

photo credit: pbs.org

Here’s my review of Vicious season two episode “Gym.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.

The second episode of the second season was fun but it didn’t quite reach its full potential. Unlike last week’s “Sister” which had a solid and clear plot, “Gym” felt a bit scattered and separated. Perhaps it was a bit like a half-cooked soufflé. The episode ended before we got any real substance out of it.

The plot for each episode of Vicious is simple, which is good for a half-hour sitcom. All we want is some good laughs, a touching moment, and a moral to the story. That’s it. But, on the other hand, the plot must also be compelling, no matter how simple or complicated it is. “Gym” was so scattered, it didn’t give the audience a clear theme to focus on. Everything seems arbitrary. Freddie and Stuart just happen to realize they’re out of shape, Ash just happens to be going to the gym, Theo the Trainer just happens to catch their attention, and Violet just happens to have a key to the flat and knows Freddie and Stuart’s schedule. Things just go from one thing to another without a strong reason for any of it.

There’s nothing deeper to the story until Ash gets rid of Theo for taking advantage of Freddie and Stuart, and then they get trapped in their exercise equipment which forces them to finally discuss why they want to get in shape anyway. Both of these moments are nice and poignant (see: Freddie adorably ruffling Ash’s hair) but without a good foundation before this happens, the moments are not as effective. There’s not really any mention of these feelings and fears beforehand, so there’s not much of a feeling of resolution by the end.

And adding to this issue, Violet and Penelope’s storyline is purely filler. There’s no real character development or any real excitement in the plot. The only payoff is one joke when Stuart realizes that there’s no food in the house. Even though they are supporting characters, it’s possible for Violet and Penelope to have just as compelling and interesting storylines of their own. This, however, was not that storyline.

But while I think the story in “Gym” was lacking a strong theme, the episode was still fun. The biggest laugh was probably the outfits they chose to wear to exercise. It’s great visual humor and who doesn’t love seeing Ian McKellen in a completely pointless bandana? (which at one point he flips over his shoulder like a ponytail! lol) I thought it was funny that weren’t self-conscious about their appearance at all. In fact, they thought their clothes were better than everyone else’s. It would have been easy to fall back on that cliché of worrying over your looks at the gym, so I’m glad they focused on other things.

Like I said in my last review, I love how the humor revolves around their age. There’s no better example of this than when they think the teen saying good morning is going to rob them. It’s one good example of how they don’t quite understand the world anymore or how people react. Again, this is parody. We all know people like this, the ones who are paranoid of even the little things. Vicious always manages to draw these kinds of things out in a fun way to laugh at them and enjoy them. That’s one of the reasons why their interactions with Ash are so great. He provides a window into the world beyond their flat. Intergenerational friendships are fun, so it’s great to see that continue to develop in this episode.

Vicious Observations

  • Freddie’s “bitch please” was definitely a highlight as was Ash’s “I’m from Wigan, bitch!”
  • I was wondering if they’d forgotten about Balthazar, but I’m glad they mentioned him here.
  • “Creepy like a fox.” “What does that even mean?”
  • It was utterly ridiculous that no one saw Violet and Penelope sneak out, but I laughed anyway. That’s more parody for ya.
  • It felt like the Vicious-ness was a little toned back this episode. Do you like it better that way?
  • “How long is a marathon? Three miles?” “It’s 26 miles.” “I see. How many weeks does one get to finish?”
  • “I just remembered… the tomato is a fruit.” Thanks Penelope!

So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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