“Hello Ladies” Recap: The Limo

**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

The Limo transports viewers further into the mind of Stuart Pritchard, giving us insight into desires that should have been more apparent in the pilot and opening the door to a more engaging and meaningful comedy series. 

In episode two of Hello Ladies, best bud and moping man-child Wade has ordered a limo to make amends with his estranged wife (Crista Flanagan). Wade’s wife, however, doesn’t want to see him for at least thirty days. Opportunistic Stuart takes advantage of his friend’s failure and suggests they take the car out for a night on the town. When the limo arrives it compels Stuart to share his fantasy life with Wade. Stuart wants to one day be riding home in that limo with his ideal wife, a model with a PhD in philosophy. This fantasy, as simple as it is, does a lot to humanize Stuart and separate him from the one-note character that was created in the pilot. This Stuart is looking for more than a hook-up; he’s looking for love—something that we can relate to and sympathize with.

Thing is, Stuart is still terribly inept at finding love, and it is rather enjoyable to see him search for it in all the wrong places. This time he thinks a limousine will be his ticket to women, but the limo (as long and as clumsy as Stuart) makes for a better comedic sidekick than it does a wingman. At one point, Stuart and Wade poke their head out of the sun roof to impress the ladies with an a cappella rendition of “Born To Wild.” They expect to ride off in style, but the limo gets stuck in an embarrassing Austin Powers-eque twenty point turn.  Merchant has a knack for pouring awkward on top of awkward in the best way possible, stretching these scenes out to the perfect point of uncomfortable.

While the boys are out in the limo, Stuart’s tenant Jessica has her actress friends over for a salon night to discuss art and culture. She puts on Jazz music, attempts discussing politics and even tries to get the ladies to watch Battleship Potemkin. However, when the girls mistake Sergei Eisenstein’s film for Peter Berg’s, Jessica realizes this particular battle is lost. Seeing Jessica’s frustrations with her friends serves the worthy purpose of having her join Stuart in a state of loneliness, but the way in which the writers utilize the L.A. actress stereotype feels tired, unoriginal, and more than a little bitter. Of course, I might be biased as I do live in L.A. and date an actress.

After being rejected from The Ambassador Club by Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz, and heckled by a paparazzo (Eddie Pepitone), Stuart lowers his expectations and invites three schoolteachers from St. Louis into the limo. The realistically pathetic flirting by all parties is spot-on and Jill Donnelly does more than hold her own as Lori, the woman somewhat interested in Stuart. Stuart loves the attention from Lori until he gets a call from Jessica that her actress girlfriends want to ride in the limo. With hot girls in his vicinity (especially the stunning Frankie Shaw), Stuart throws all tact out the limo window, putting on his transparent ladies’ man guise and blatantly ignoring Lori.

Stuart’s lecherous behavior has consequences. The actresses get Stuart into the club but when he realizes that all of Jessica’s friends have boyfriends, Stuart desperately tries to salvage things with Lori back in the limo. Thankfully, we’ve met a woman with principles and Lori tells Stuart to go screw. In the pilot Stuart placed the blame of his failed advances on the women he was hitting on. In The Limo, he’s aware that he’s made some poorly calculated decisions and he is resigned to the fact that he’ll need to live with them. Of course, Wade’s non-discerning friend Kives plays it cool with the ladies and winds up taking all three St. Louis teachers home.

The episode wraps up on an emotional low for Stuart, but a creative high for the show. Stuart drops off Wade at a motel, becoming even more sympathetic in an honest moment where he tells him, “If you need to talk, I’m here for you.” Stuart’s long legs now have plenty of room to stretch out, alone in the limo. Aided by Bill Labounty’s song, “Look Who’s Lonely Now,” Stuart seems to be playing out a lifetime of loneliness in his mind. He picks Jessica up from the club they were both recently rejected from and not a word is spoken. As they share a bag of overpriced limo nuts, one can’t help but smile, as it is clear that these two misfits make a charmingly forlorn pair.
Other thoughts:

– HBO is no stranger to elaborate and accomplished opening title sequences and the Hello Ladies opening credits is no exception, certainly raising the bar for half hour shows.

– A scene within a scene, the cold open of this episode was reminiscent of the start of every episode of Extras. This time Stephen Merchant is the sore thumb of a background actor and he can’t stop himself from laughing while Jessica attempts to direct and star in her web series. In Stuart’s defense, it is a poorly put-together drama about teen suicide and he correctly points out that it might play better as a comedy.

– Some excellent guest spots. Crista Flanagan (Mad Men) is terrific as Wade’s wife Marion and she shines during an especially uncomfortable whisper argument with Wade. According to IMDB, we’ll get to see more of Crista Flanagan in upcoming episodes. John Hartmen is also fantastic as the limo driver. His performance is quiet and subtle, making him stand out next to all of the bigger characters on the show.

– I appreciated the somewhat backhanded shout out to hipster hangout Harvard and Stone, a pretty cool bar that I visited during my bachelor party and one that I hope Stuart gets to visit later in the series.

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J.T. Saroufim Joseph Tony Saroufim is a screenwriter and reviewer of film and television. He has worked as a staff writer in Vh1’s creative lab and in 2011 he won the best writing award at the New York Television Festival. Most recently he produced and co-wrote D-TEC, a television pilot that won Samsung’s Second Screen Storytellers competition. His favorite TV shows include Soap, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Veep. His favorite film is Holiday, starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.