Today I watched the 2nd episode of Love Bites, a romantic anthology series on NBC. I didn't actually intend to record it; it just came up as a Tivo recommendation. Anyway, I watched "How to..." and was surprised by how much I liked it, given that I'd heard the pilot got bad reviews. As I understand it, there are only a few recurring characters on Love Bites, including Annie, the blonde restaurant chef who's carrying a baby for her sister and brother-in-law, and Judd, a married tattoo artist played by Greg Grunberg. Other characters are friends of either Annie or Judd, and the stories/events are sometimes tangentially connected to each other.
There were three stories in the episode, beginning with "Banana Bread" which revolved around a guy dumping a girl because he was freaked out by her baking him some banana bread. He says that he just wants to be friends, so she starts to impose on him based on this friendship. He ups the ante by inviting her to a guys' night at a strip club, hoping to scare her off. So the girl invites Annie along for moral support and they make friends with a stripper named Sapphire who gives them a lapdance. I thought this story was only so-so until we met the amazing Sapphire. Eventually the story is resolved; the guy admits that he broke up with her because of the banana bread, and they get into a fight, but things work out as expected in a romantic comedy.
What I really enjoyed a lot was the second story "Decent Proposal" which guest starred Frances Conroy and Kurtwood Smith as a couple from Texas who are visiting their gay son in Venice, California and trying to show that they accept Kyle's boyfriend Drew. The mother, Faye, is overenthusiastic and endearing in how she tries to be a super PFLAG parent. She doesn't even gasp in shock at seeing a painting of Kyle's penis on the wall! Her husband Ed is more apt to be honest and blunt, but because of that, he often gets called out for making remarks that are insensitive.
The "decent proposal" of the title is that Drew wants to marry Kyle, and will later propose to him. There's a lovely reversal in how Kyle's parents handle the proposal, with Ed being happy for them, and Faye actually being the one who's upset. It was a really enjoyable story with lots of humor. I loved seeing Ed and Drew bond; Drew's own father isn't accepting, so he appreciates that Ed truly does love his son and supports him. Faye's love is sincere too, even if a little selfish, in that she wished for Kyle to remain single and take care of her in her old age, after Ed died. But such a super PFLAG mom needed some realistic faults to be human.
Oh, part of the fun in this story is that Kyle and Drew's neighbor is Judd, whom Faye mistakes for Drew at first. And later, Ed goes over to Judd's place to share a beer and discuss the awkward situation at Kyle's house. Judd also shows him a video he has (made by the multi-talented Sapphire) in which the scantily-clad stripper demonstrates how to do home repair projects. It made me smile. During Faye's freakout, she also runs to Judd's place to vacuum and wash dishes; he doesn't mind. Well, anyway, just see the story for yourself on Hulu if you can. I don't know how long the show will last. It's on the summer burn-off after all.
Finally, the third story was about Judd and his wife, who talk about fantasies after meeting a celebrity sex "doctor" from TV. This story (called "Eye-gasms") was merely so-so, with a small bright spot in the fact that Dr. O was played by Jeffrey Tambor, who is often confused with Dr. Phil. After I watched the pilot on Hulu, this story also makes little sense. In the pilot, Judd and his wife already discuss celebrity freebie lists, so why should he now object to hearing about her fantasies about anonymous firemen while having sex? It felt blah and unremarkable. The pilot was worse, though, and I'm hoping later episodes will show more improvement.