Wilfred "Honesty" Review: The (Spineless) Girl Next Door

By Tim Surette

Aug 24, 2012

Wilfred S02E09: "Honesty"

Episode after episode of Wilfred, we feel compelled to discuss the show's DNA because we're all still trying to figure out what kind of show it wants to be. It's weird, we know that. And we've come to expect plenty of raunchiness and dark humor through doggy handjobs and corpse eating (and love-making). And sometimes Wilfred puts its own take on a traditional sitcom trope.

When playing with old sitcom ideas works, it works, as it did with the awkward dinner party in "Control." In tonight's "Honesty," we found Ryan in a familiar sitcom situation: the nice guy who accidentally screwed up someone else's life without their knowledge. And to save face, he tries to work behind the scenes to undo his mistakes only to dig himself halfway to Hong Kong in a bigger mess.

This sort of situation always has potential even though we've seen it played out a million times by whoever the comic du jour is in television and film. And "Honesty" added its own flair with the always reliable addition of cats. But the part of this kind of plot that makes it worth watching is seeing how the hero gets out of his hole. Usually there's some combination of ingenious act and admission of guilt that ends with a lesson learned and either a hug or a spot in the doghouse for the protagonist.

In "Honesty," Ryan got off WAY too easily. And it came at the cost of weakening a character–Jenna–even more than she already was. Jenna has always needed more bite to go beyond being just the object of Ryan's crush, but we only see her through Ryan's eyes as the perfect girl next door. That's why her stoned on-air freakout and transition into Squishy Tits was so great. But when she was confronted with the truth about how her big shot at her dream career was ruined (indirectly, she's the one who grabbed the pot candy) by Ryan and Ryan's subsequent actions that made things worse (he swapped out pregnant Kristen's pee which led to Jenna and Drew's engagement, and he blackmailed Jenna's boss), Jenna gave it to Ryan for a moment before catching her breath and backing off later that day and turning her rage into an apology to Ryan. WHAT!?

Normally I'm not a big fan of questioning characters' decisions and thinking I know them better than the writers do, but here it seems Jenna's decision to apologize to Ryan held her down even more than before just to find a way to get Ryan out of his jam. She turned a shattered opportunity at a career and a hurried engagement after a false pregnancy–all Ryan's fault–into "It's my fault because I flirted with you so you would watch my dog." I really want to like Jenna (partly because I adore Fiona Gubelman), but she's being used as a plot device that supports Ryan rather than as a real human being. I look at Kristen's transformation this season and wonder why the same can't be done for Jenna. Jenna should have punched Ryan in the face for what he did no matter how many times he picked up her dry cleaning. False drug tests that result in false pregnancy scares =/= innocent flirting.

That said, it was still a very funny episode of Wilfred, because, well, CATS! I'm not sure what would have been funnier, using real cats as the episode did, or putting a bunch of cute kids in cat suits and sticking with the same "let's murder a bunch of cats" plot. Wilfred's anti-cat video to Jenna, with Sarah McLachlan tunes, was the funniest bit of the episode and right up there any high point of the series. Regardless of what difficulty Wilfred has with characterization or wrapping up plots, the quality of humor is always there.


NOTES

– Wilfred's hatred of Dobies was hilarious. Will these parallels between dog life and human life ever get old. NO. NO THEY WON'T.

– I'm pretty sure the episode gave a shoutout to the difficult David O. Russell with Wilfred's director freakout. If you haven't seen Russell go apeshit on Lily Tomlin, it's here, but it's a tough watch.

– How much longer 'til we see Ryan's dad? Any day now, right?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • saxyroro Aug 27, 2012

    Glad my golden retriever slept through this episode. She would have had a kitty fit!

  • Tjsmooth0 Aug 25, 2012

    Is no one going to point out that Chairman Meow is the greatest name for a cat in recorded history??

  • mad-pac Aug 25, 2012

    So Ryan's (possibly) imaginary cellar has a (possibly) imaginary pit with (probably) real cats in it? How screwed up is that? Next episode are we going to find out there is a tunnel in the pit in the cellar in the house?



    Ok, I may believe a talking dog may exist due to some fantastic circumstance, but an attractive woman who admits she's stringing a guy along and just using his natural willingness to please her? Now, that's stretching the limits of credibility way too much! And it was a stroke of genius, as that would only happen in Wilfred's magic universe. Something nice watching, even though we know it's practically impossible in real life.



    Cute cats or cute kids in cat suits in dangerous jeopardy? Which would be more terrifying? Honestly, I have to get back to you at that...



    Stubbornly, Ryan for out of that mess without having to talk to his father. The build-up for the moment that confrontation finally happens is tremendous! The payoff apparently will be great.



    Ryan is really losing it. Are we to believe it was Wilfred who magically re-edited the entire video when nobody was looking?



    But cannot damnit, I know how that feels. I'm really angry with my cat after he posted all those favorable Falling Skies comments in my name! He's uncontrollable!





  • TrueTvWatcher Aug 24, 2012

    Another superb episode. I love the humor and and how Wilfred's views apply to Ryan's as well. The whole thing with the cats and dobies was hilarious!

  • makuyi Aug 24, 2012

    I'm confused about the episodes. According to tv.com's Wilfred page, "Honesty" was episode 10. Episode 9 was called "Service" and there was no review on that one.

  • safibwana Aug 24, 2012

    I disagree that Jenna was weakened because I disagree that Jenna was a character.

  • Bob_Scrivens Aug 25, 2012

    Right on. Jenna, like everything on the show, is the product of the coma Ryan has been suffering since he downed those pills in the pilot episode. Jenna was never supposed to be anything but a prop.



    And Ryan's father is real. He is in the hospital at Ryan's side, trying to get his son to wake up. Once Ryan does finally choose to talk to his father, that will be him breaking out of the coma. That will be the end of the series. All that will be left after that is the philosophical puzzle of, "Why did Ryan think all these things in such detail? What do they represent?"

  • AllieAllie Aug 24, 2012

    Omg, I didn't think about sticking kids in cat costumes, that would have been so much more awesome xD

  • DrSpongejr Aug 24, 2012

    Pretty decent show tonight. I agree that the ending was a little too picture-perfect than what we're used to seeing from Wilfred. That being said, it was still a pretty solid episode, with a good story, some weirdness thrown in, and, of course, the raunch-factor we fans expect.