“A Leash Is Not A Guinea Pig” was another solid episode of Single Parents, using the dreaded death of a beloved pet to discuss emotions and attachment.
This recap of Single Parents Season 1 Episode 3, “A Leash Is Not A Guinea Pig”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It was inevitable that a show about parenting would eventually devote an episode to death, and that’s exactly what “A Leash Is Not A Guinea Pig” concerned itself with, although it also made time for some thoughts on how to be emotionally healthy as not only a child but a man and a parent, too.
The deceased is Pickle, the guinea pig belonging to Emma and Amy (played by real-life twins Mia and Ella Allen). The poor thing is accidentally stamped to death by Rory (Devin Trey Campbell, fabulous as always) during a shindig. The twins could care less; the on-going joke that Douglas’s (Brad Garrett) buttoned-up emotions are turning his kids borderline sociopathic continues apace here, and it’s one of the funniest – and, I suppose, truest – recurring gags in Single Parents.
The episode’s other subplot is that Graham (Tyler Wladis), who is hopelessly sensitive, is confiding in Will (Taran Killam) more than his mother, Angie (Leighton Meester). This is a common anxiety of single parents, of course; that their child might want or need someone more than their sole provider, and it’s such an understandable one that the absurd lengths Angie is willing to go to in order to maintain Graham’s exclusive affection become doubly amusing.
Those efforts include an impromptu colonoscopy (don’t ask), but the outcome is that Angie realises that while Graham will always need and love her, she can’t be everything to him all the time, and it’s perfectly okay to have other influences in your child’s life. Is there a romance blossoming here? Hard to say. It seems a little too obvious but also strangely fitting, so I suppose we’ll see.
But the healthiest thing going on in “A Leash Is Not A Guinea Pig” is Douglas’s acknowledgement that repressing his emotions is dangerous and unhealthy, and that encouraging his daughters to do the same is worse still. (His attitude stems from the death of his wife, which he hasn’t ever bothered to deal with.) Single Parents is always smart in pairing off the most incompatible adults and children, both for the purposes of jokes and actual insight. In this case Doug’s foil is Poppy (Kimrie Lewis), whose hysterically open son is the exact opposite of Doug’s tunnel-digging twins.
In Poppy’s upscale feminist wine bar, the newly-employed Miggy (Jake Choi) is discovering new depths to his stupidity – it turns out he can’t even use a corkscrew. Improbably, this subplot morphs into quite a moving little aside revolving around shelving one’s prejudices and expectations (while none-too-subtly poking affectionate fun at militant feminists), and while I initially resented the lengths Single Parents seems willing to go to in order to characterise Miggy as an idiot, by the end I was thankful for its inclusion.
That seems to be a trend with this show – there is lots about it that shouldn’t work but inexplicably does, and it’s great, oddball casting and consistently clever plotting are surprisingly enjoyable each week. I have no idea how long the format can be sustained, but “A Leash Is Not A Guinea Pig” was a perfectly enjoyable half-hour, so the answer is, presumably, for a little while yet.