At Home with Amy Sedaris returned in all its unhinged glory last night — and it kicked its second season off with an episode devoted to teenagers. But as expected, if you were looking for actual insights into the teen condition, you’d be sorely disappointed. Instead, the show chose to address topics loosely related to teenagers (or more precisely, what adults might falsely assume are related to teens), and then have all the adult characters pitch hormonal fits because the teenagers were inside us all along!
What I’m saying is, it was business as usual on this crazypants show, and I’m so happy it’s back.
The big name guest of the night was Matthew Broderick, playing an author who was promoting his book about teenagers (“The Glass Teenagerie”) — though it turned out that none of the kids he researched wanted to be in the book. Or in his band.
Other highlights included Tony the Knife Man lecturing a teen boy named Byron at knife point about the beauty of knives, before finally gifting him one, and Amy inviting her good friend Chassie over to the Crafting Corner to work on designing aspirational covers for their diaries. In fact, a lot of familiar faces from season one returned for the premiere. The Lady Who Lives In The Woods is still not getting along too great with her girlfriend, and is expressing it via “emotion belts.” Russell used his theater troupe to create a ridiculous anti-drug film that lists “bad phone etiquette” and “accidental employment” as symptoms of drug abuse. And Amy herself trotted out her non-Amy characters like Patty Hogg (now working for a neighborhood watch group called the “Snooper Troopers”) and Nutmeg (who still has tape on her nose) — though the surprise cameo of the night came from Amy’s other show, Strangers With Candy, as Jerri Blank’s backpack popped up!
It all ended with a song about friendship, and how you maybe need to trap people into making them stay with you, which clearly is very on-brand around here (do they read our advice columns?!). But perhaps the most reassuring thing about the premiere is that… nothing’s changed. The writing is still sharp and filled with unexpected jokes (and some unexpectedly dark jokes) that only work because Amy herself is so committed to her persona as TV Most Eccentric Homemaker. While all the other characters are deranged, Amy remains the calm heart at the center of the chaos. The show isn’t just funny because of the jokes — it’s funny because Amy plays them all straight, investing a genuine belief in the proceedings that sells them. The show is patently ridiculous, but she never waivers in her commitment to its singular reality, and that is what lets us go along for the ride.
But I’ll be honest: there was one moment that made me worry, and it came right at the end. Byron has run off outside, and Amy goes to see how he’s doing. And as she steps out the door, you just see two sneaker-ed feet dangling into the top of the frame, as if the poor boy has hung himself. I almost groaned, thinking the show might have actually tossed a teen suicide joke is as a sight gag, but then the camera reverses and you see Byron sitting, safe and sound, on a tree limb. And if there was any lingering bad taste in your mouth, it was soothed by the physical comedy of watching Amy try to climb up there to join the boy while carrying two full glasses of lemonade (it’s not pretty, it takes awhile, and the lemonade doesn’t survive the journey), then singing that aforementioned song with him as a duet. I actually think that whole scene might be one of the best examples of just what makes this show tick. Sure, it may blend its humor with actual pathos, but it only ever goes a little dark. There is a line, but you only notice it when the jokes brush up against it and then turns away like nothing happened. Those moments are like the show is acknowledging that the world really is a pretty f*cked up place full of broken people — but then saying it doesn’t matter. Or at least, it doesn’t matter here, in Amy’s house. Because here the rules don’t apply, and being broken is something to be celebrated. Maybe with a layered meat-cake!
At Home With Amy Sedaris airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on TruTV. Come for the promise of cooking and crafting tips — then stay despite the fact that almost nothing the show says should be trusted. It’s better that way!