Season 3, Episode 10 (originally aired August 19): “Monkey Plate”
Microsynopsis: Steve and Susan secretly invite Jenny (Margaret Cho), the daughter of Ok Cha’s estranged sister, to a surprise birthday party for Ok Cha in the hopes of reuniting the family. Jenny arrives bearing gifts and good wishes, but Ok Cha is sure she’s only there to retrieve a family heirloom Ok Cha stole from her dead grandmother. Roy comes into possession of two field passes to a Steelers game, but since he can take only one friend, Owen and Ahmed compete to be the plus-one.
Good: It’s always good to see Margaret Cho, and it’s especially true here, since Jodi Long (Ok Cha) played Cho’s mother in All-American Girl. The moment where Jenny mimics her mother’s Korean accent (the best part of Cho’s stand-up act) while Susan mimics her own mother’s Korean accent is pretty cute. There’s a lot of Steve-Susan interaction, the kind I wish this show gave us more of. Some of the plot gags involving the Monkey Plate are pretty funny.
Bad: The Roy-Ahmed-Owen business feels like a variation on an uninteresting recurring theme.
Hapa moments: There are two good moment this episode. In the first, Jenny points out that Susan and Steve are only half Korean, saying their lighter skin and half-Caucasian eyes make them look “like white people lining up a putt.” Later, when Jenny goes kind of psycho, Steve tries to calm her down, saying, “Jenny, I thought we wanted the same thing here!” Jenny’s response is, “Shut up, white boy! I came here for the plate!”
Overall: It seems to have taken the better part of three seasons, but some of the other actors (besides Steve Byrne and Dan Lauira) are finding their characters’ grooves, if these last two episodes are any indication. It used to be that only Steve’s interactions with his father and with Melanie felt natural and unforced, but some of that easiness is creeping into other characters’ scenes as well. This episode itself is slightly off the wall, but not especially so for a half-hour sitcom. Mostly, it’s pleasant and enjoyable.
Final grade, this episode: B.