Tess’s dedication to turning her temporary waitressing gig into a permanent one continues to impress in Sweetbitter Episode 3: Everyone Is Soigné, even if I am still struggling to decipher a) how the job landed in her lap in the first place and b) why I still continue to watch this rather aimless show, short of Ella Purnell’s effortless likability in the lead role.
After an attempt at the three-plate carry ends in a plate of fine grub shattered on the floor and a pointed bollocking from the sous chef, Scott (Jimmie Saito), Tess nabs some crockery from the restaurant and sets up the goods in her apartment to practice. In this, she enlists the help of Will (Evan Jonigkeit), who sees the rehearsal as a good opportunity to go down on her. Because of course he does.
Putting aside the frankly bizarre notion that Tess’s roommate has a rather demanding job and thus she has never met him, what feels realistic about the liaison between Tess and Will is that she promptly tells everyone she works with about it, some of whom reveal they have had similar experiences with him. If Sweetbitter “gets” something about restaurant work, it’s that if everyone’s noses aren’t hovering over elitist food they don’t get paid enough to afford, they’re buried in everyone else’s business.
The other dramatic wrinkle of “Everyone Is Soigné”, to give it way too grandiose a term, is the presence of Serena (Wrenn Schmidt), a former server who wants a last-minute table with her husband. As she used to work at the restaurant she’s considered soigné, which I understand is important, and therefore should be accommodated, much to the chagrin of Simone. You can understand if I wasn’t exactly hanging onto this narrative thread with baited breath; turns out there’s a typically pedestrian lesson to be learned from Serena, but I’ll leave you to discover that on your own.
With “Everyone Is Soigné”, Sweetbitter continues to be quite embarrassingly written, with Tess even asking Ariel (Eden Epstein) outright, “Are we friends?” Do people really communicate like that? I doubt it. Such things – consider also Tess’s phantom roommate, and the fact we still know absolutely nothing about why she decided to make this major life change in the first place – make it exceedingly difficult to care about the goings-on in Sweetbitter, even when badboy bartender Jake drops a glass after hearing about Tess and Will’s tryst. He wants the coochie too!
I’ll tell you what I want: A better show. I’m not holding my breath.