Season 3, Episode 9 (originally aired August 12): “Owenbrau”
Microsynopsis: Owen brews his own beer, and to the astonishment of everyone in Sullivan & Son, it tastes really good. Dubbing his brew Owenbrau, he goes into business with Roy and Ahmed, while Steve, following the advice of his father, declines to mix friendship with business, telling Owen that his bar won’t sell the beer. This temporarily causes a tiny rift in the friendships, but Steve tries to make amends by connecting his friends to his beer distributor. In a second plot, Carole, Ok Cha, Melanie, and Susan plan a girls’ night out and exchange secrets while relaxing in a sauna.
Good: In the main plot, the theme seems to be good beer. While Owen and his friends deal with the Owebrau situation, Hank and Jack reminisce about a favorite, long-discontinued beer from their past. It’s a simple topic, but moving beer from mere prop to topic of conversation is a great move. People who sit around drinking beer like to talk about beer, too, and for some reason that’s seldom represented on television. And for a change, there aren’t too many stupid jokes, ‘though the laughtrack is still too loud. Also, as strong as the A-plot is, the B-plot is possibly better. The bonding in the sauna is surprisingly convincing, and there’s some carryover when the ladies return to the bar and discuss plans to spend more time together.
Bad: I’m going to be a little nit-picky because there’s not much to hate in this episode. There’s an early moment where Melanie is insulted by Hank, and she kind of obviously removes herself from the conversation to sulk at a nearby table. It’s just a little hammy, ‘though I admit I can’t put my finger on why it feels that way. And when she’s joined by Carole and Susan, the dynamic feels forced. Not until they’ve retreated to the sauna does the connection feel believable, which I also will admit may be intentional.
Hapa moment: It’s Susan who comes up with the idea of sharing secrets in the sauna. Melanie immediately gets excited and says that’s what they should do. Ok Cha says to them both, “You white people always want to put your s*** on the street!”
Overall: This is quite possibly the best episode of Sullivan & Son so far. I’m all about a thirty-minute sitcom installment where the plot is thin but the character development is solid, and that’s what we get in both plots. The jokes are well-told and (mostly) neither idiotic nor obvious, and the interaction between characters is very well done.
Final grade, this episode: A minus.