Friday, January 18, 2013

Ben and Kate

Ben and Kate
Episode 12: Girl Problems
By: Carlos Uribe

Ben and Kate is a show about a responsible single mother and her carefree older brother.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The girl problems that the title refers to could be talking about two things. The first has to do with Kate. She's happy that Tommy has gotten a new girlfriend, Lila, but she's annoyed that Tommy seems to be ignoring her. Kate assumes that it's awkward for the girlfriend because of the crush that Tommy used to have on her so she decides to befriend Lila in order to get close to her. Her rationale being that since Will broke up with her because of her family and friends, she didn't want Tommy to lose Lila for the same reason. Kate's plan completely backfires because it turns out that Lila had no idea that Tommy was in love for Kate for an entire decade. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Kate was able to be a friend to Tommy and fix that relationship. This is a plot that works for two reasons. The first is that it showcases how important Tommy is to Kate by having her try to befriend Tommy's new girlfriend and later helping win her back. The second is that it shows how Will's break-up on Kate has affected her as she tries to avoid a similar situation with Lila. This is good and all but there is one huge problem with this. Kate brings up that Tommy is great with his new girlfriend but the series doesn't actually show us this. We have to take her word for it because Lila has yet to be given an actual personality or character. She's completely bland which makes it difficult to root for Tommy and her to get back together. It would have been nice if the episode had found a way to not only develop her character but to also show why Tommy is so good with her.

The girl problem might also refer to Ben's plot. Ben is trying to get a loan from the bank over his idea of a skymall but for trains. The bank will only approve a loan for Rail Mall if Ben is able to get himself an experienced CEO. Ben doesn't sweat this out because that's exactly why he got a job at the country club. It's during this job that he finds a woman, Vera, who is tough and experienced. He tries to recruit her to joining his idea and she plays along so she can get in his pants. She doesn't actually plan to help him because she doesn't think it's a good idea. She brings up that nobody rides trains anymore and people can simply use smartphones to do compulsive shopping. Ben's passion for his idea lead to him fighting for it and he manages to let out a good nugget that gets Vera's attention when he brings up the idea of local cuisine. She agrees to come aboard and it looks like Ben's idea might actually become a business. This is a nice development for the plot and it's important for two reasons. The first is that it shows Ben's growth as he's actually sticking with an idea. The second is that if he just had a hairbrained scheme every episode then it would kind of get old rather fast. By committing to an idea for at least a few episodes, Ben's entrepreneurial spirit is treated seriously enough that it keeps the promise that he might actually succeed in life alive. This is a promise that is necessary to keep so that the audience can continue to root for the character's business ideas.

Other Notes:

Girl Problems shows BJ might not have very good memory but she has a pretty great business sense.

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