Season 2 Episode 4

Mrs. Grubman

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jul 13, 2004 on FX

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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  • An interesting study on women and aging. Episode summary in review.

    Womanhood is the theme this week. Perhaps no other group is targeted more by the business of beauty than women. We've seen before how it affects the women on this show, sometimes ending tragically, like with Nanette Babcock. It affects young, like the cheerleader who has lipo so her legs will be smoother, and old, like Mrs. Grubman. We see several women dealing with aging this episode.

    The first is Annie. Annie McNamara has always been a lost character. Since so much of the show revolves around Julia, Matt, Sean and Christian, Annie doesn't have anything to do. You have to wonder why they put her in the mix. This episode finally puts the character to use. While bathing her daughter, Julia notices red stains on Annie's underwear. Annie has started puberty.

    The next day Julia returns home with her friend Suzanne. After discussing Annie's situation, Suzanne proposes that they throw a Princes Menses party, a party celebrating the onset of puberty. She then selfishly calls attention to herself and her "youthful" appearance. She credits it to switching to an organic diet, claiming that processed food had too many poisons in them. Now Julia has a crisis of age.

    Next, we see Mrs. Grubman in another consultation. She wants a knee lift, a task that baffles the doctors. They are still under obligation to give her whatever she wants pro bono, but they still question her motives. In six months, she has had ten procedures done. The doctors suggest that she has an addiction. She openly talks about her recent problems. Her daughter has cancer, and she sees beauty as a defense, as a way to be strong for her daughter.

    That night, Wilbur's father visits Christian. He found Gina's diary and is appalled by what he's read. Of course, its ironic that he's seeking Christian's help after learning how many sexual partners she's had in the last few years. Christian has probably had that many, if not more, in that time span. Wilbur's father wants to ally himself with Christian against Gina in the custody battle. This is welcome since Christian has little weight in court over the biological parents. Wilbur's father offers another tidbit; Gina has contacted Kimber as a character witness.

    The next day, Suzanne acts as master of ceremonies for Annie's Princess Menses party. Things are going fine until Sean comes. He's curious about it, but Suzanne doesn't want him around. Annie insists that her dad be her prince. Suzanne goes along and tells a story about Princess Menses, but what starts as a lighthearted story turns rather explicit. Julia and Sean quickly finish the story and confront Suzanne about her offensive story, of which she feels wasn't inappropriate.

    Meanwhile, the symbolic Princess Menses, Kimber, prepares to lunch with Christian. After some small talk, addressing that she left Bobolit and is pursuing acting, she makes Christian know that she's aware that he's only meeting with her to convince her to side with him. He pleads his case. Wilbur has opened his heart to a love he never experienced before. Kim, upset, asks why she couldn't have been loved that way.

    Kimber's cocaine addiction has gotten worse since we last saw her. She snorts some before her date. Then she finds out about Christian's newfound love and loses it. Frantically dumping her purse's contents on the bathroom floor, she snorts as much cocaine as possible: off the floor, off the toilet paper stand, anywhere except for the bowl. When she returns, she yells at him, but her nose starts to bleed.

    Great segue to the dinner scene as Julia pours a red substance into a bowl. This gives the audience a clear impression of what this will taste like. Julia prepares a meal following her new diet. The reaction is bad. Matt gets up to make a sandwich, but can't since his mom got rid of all the non-organic foods. He turns extremely hostile, bluntly telling Annie graphic things about menstruation and angering Sean and Julia. Confused about this recent behavior, they decide to contact Ava to see if she can help him.

    Another great music queue, "Mother's Little Helper" by The Rolling Stones, plays as they operate on Mrs. Grubman. The line "What a drag it is getting old", couldn't better sum up how Mrs. Grubman must feel. During the surgery, she flatlines and they work to save her. Later, we see that she has stabilized, but suffered from paralysis. Mrs. Grubman's daughter, Claire, confronts the doctors. Then we find out that Mrs. Grubman was taking antidepressants, which with the anesthesia caused her to flat line. She started taking them before Claire's cancer was diagnosed. Claire confirms what we suspected, that she was taking them because aging depressed her.

    Christian looks through Kimber's nose and sees that cocaine really is a hell of a drug. It has destroyed her septum. He agrees to fix it for her if she doesn't take the stand against him. With that, she goes under the knife. Liz is baffled and a little saddened about how Kimber could've fallen as far as she did. Christian's rather tender to Kimber, stroking her forehead considerately. Life has treated her poorly and Christian wants to help. Obviously because of Wilbur, he has found a new sense of compassion.

    Suddenly the McNamaras go into crisis mode when Annie suddenly becomes ill. She's dehydrated and running a fever. After being taken to the hospital, they discover that Annie used one of Julia's tampons inappropriately, which caused her body to go into shock. They realize that they've gone out of control with the new regime. Julia's fear of aging ended up being passed down to Annie and it almost ended in tragedy.

    When they return home, they assure Annie that there are good things about getting older. Then they tell her another story about sex in a less crude manner. Simultaneously, we see Kimber in a wedding gown, symbolic of her Menses role in the episode. A man with a crown on his head carries her on a bed and has sex with her. It turns out that she's on the set of a porn movie. As Kimber ages, modeling becomes a tougher occupation, so she turns to porn to survive.

    Christian visits Mrs. Grubman in the rehab facility. She can't move the left side of her body. Unfortunately, Christian can't fix it. For a character who cruelly manipulated McNamara/Troy to get what she wants, they did a great job making us feel sorry for this character. Vanity was her tragic flaw. Since she can't achieve perfection, she asks that they do one more surgery for her: reconstruct Claire's breasts that the cancer has ravaged. She wasted her daughter's life because she was fixated on her vanity. Her last piece of advice to Christian is not to let the mirror distract him from Wilbur's life.

    That doesn't appear to be the way things will play out. Wilbur's dad isn't as sure that he wants to give his son to Christian after hearing him call Gina horrible names. Although he doesn't want Gina to be near the child, he doesn't want the legal father to instill on Wilbur such negative opinions about his mother. Originally, Wilbur's father didn't want to take him because he didn't want to introduce a new son to his wife of almost forty years. Christian agrees to have Wilbur baptized, but after it is done, Wilbur's father tells Christian he wants his son.

    "What a drag it is getting old", especially for women, who have so many pressures society place on them to avoid it. Of course, it works since a woman, Jennifer Salt, wrote the episode. It also works well because we see the issue of women and aging from several perspectives, each playing out differently. This episode resolves the Mrs. Grubman storyline too, another thing they must've wanted to do so they could get the major arcs of this season underway. However, some of the gears are in motion.