CHICAGO – Welcome back to “Welcome to Flatch” recaps! In this week’s episode, “Naked Lady Day,” Father Joe redirects Shrub’s love of graffiti to an art class, while Kelly gets some quality time with her father, Bobby. Meanwhile Cheryl and Joe come to grips with their new relationship status. Just starting the show? Here’s our recap of the premiere. Ready to binge? The first seven episodes are streaming on Hulu.
Don’t let the goofy title fool you. “Naked Lady Day” is actually the most bittersweet episode of “Welcome to Flatch” yet. Of course, this being “Flatch,” there’s still plenty of small town silliness in store too. But things are definitely getting more grounded as this lovably mockumentary series digs deeper into its characters and their complicated personal lives.
So pour yourself a nice glass of art class wine, grab your finest neon orange cheese cubes and settle in for our recap.
An artist at work
WELCOME TO FLATCH: Sam Straley in the “Naked Lady Day” episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, April 7 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
Shrub Mallet (Sam Straley) takes center stage this week, as his fondness for graffiti (albeit with washable markers) lands him in trouble with Father Joe (Seann William Scott). But while others see Shrub as just a juvenile delinquent (“What others? Name names,” Shrub counters), Father Joe believes in his potential. He just wants to redirect the young Mallet’s artistic energies into something more worthwhile
So Joe suggests — alright, mandates — that Shrub attend an art class at the community center. “I’ll take the stupid art class,” Shrub reluctantly agrees. “But I’m not gonna like it. And I’m not gonna learn anything. And I will not grow in any way.”
“That’s the spirit!” Joe warmly enthuses. (It’s hard to overstate what a delight Scott is in this kind, earnest, against-type role.)
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It’s Shrub who gets the last laugh, however, as it turns out the local art class is in the middle of a nude figure drawing unit. When model Shelly disrobes, she becomes the first naked woman Shrub has ever seen in person. And that’s major cause for celebration in Shrub’s world, as “Naked Lady Day” replaces his previous holiday “Bra Day,” a.k.a. the anniversary of the day he touched Abby Taylor’s bra. (Naturally, both holidays have their own anthems.)
WELCOME TO FLATCH: L-R: Aya Cash and Sam Straley in the “Naked Lady Day” episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, April 7 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
So where does the bittersweet quality come in? Well, part of the reason Father Joe is such a breath of fresh air on this series is because he’s one of the only people really looking out for Shrub and his cousin Kelly Mallet (Holmes).
Indeed, onscreen text informs us that almost a quarter of young adults have been raised in households with one or less parent, which makes the need for adult role models more important than ever. Shrub, for instance, was raised by his grandma because his dad wasn’t around and his mom left when he was a baby. “So, I don’t have anyone to let me down,” he offers as a positive spin. (Another positive: After Shrub’s mom left Flatch to find herself, she wound up in Boreno rescuing baby apes. Now it’s kind of like Shrub has a whole collection of primate siblings.)
Kelly, meanwhile, is often strung along by her irresponsible dad Bobby (Jason MacDonald), who comes in and out of her life whenever he wants — including this week, when he calls her to hang out after his girlfriend kicks him out of the house for cheating.
Screenshot: ‘Welcome to Flatch’
As we’ve seen before, Kelly tends to have blinders on when it comes to her dad. She’ll happily soak up any quality time she can get with him, even if it means sitting through one of his long, boring flight simulator sessions. And she’s always the first to idolize and defend him — even when he ditches her to go back to his girlfriend, saving all of his words of encouragement for Shrub in the process.
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“Naked Lady Day” takes a swing for the somber when Kelly is left crestfallen after her dad leaves, but it’s here where Shrub really shines. Though he may have gotten kicked out of art class for ogling Shelly, Shrub knows just how to lift his cousin’s spirits with a game of tag.
“I think it’s good my mom left me in Flatch,” he adds to the camera. “That way I can be there for Kelly.” Turns out Father Joe’s belief wasn’t so misplaced after after.
An affair to remember
WELCOME TO FLATCH: Aya Cash in the “Naked Lady Day” episode of WELCOME TO FLATCH airing Thursday, April 7 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX Media LLC. Cr: Brownie Harris/FOX
If you’re wondering how it’s taken us this long into the recap to finally touch on last week’s almost-kiss between Father Joe and Cheryl (Aya Cash), that’s because this episode makes us wait a while for some resolution too. While Cheryl is a bundle of nerves about what it all means, Joe has already jumped back into the dating pool.
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Okay, so it’s just a Zoom first date with a woman he met on Tinder who lives 100 miles away. But when a tipsy Cheryl winds up crashing Joe’s evening with the leftover cheese plate from art class, she’s embarrassed to realize Joe’s already moved on.
And that leads to yet another bittersweet moment in an episode full of them: Joe swings by Cheryl’s house the next day to apologize and ask her out to lunch. Only it turns out she’s heading out on a first date with “Pockton Gazette” editor Jimmy Jameson (Desmin Borges). Timing is everything, and Joe and Cheryl just don’t seem to have it.
Thankfully, “Naked Lady Day” does manage to end on a genuinely sweet, romantic high. Motivated by the pep talk from his uncle, Shrub finally gets up the courage to ask out his long-time crush, Beth (Erin Bowles), who agrees to a date that weekend. Maybe Shrub really can do anything he sets his mind to, after all.
“Welcome to Flatch” airs Thursdays on FOX. The first seven episodes are also currently available to stream on Hulu. Recaps run weekly.
About the writer: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she lovingly dissects the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in her ongoing column When Romance Met Comedy at The A.V. Club. She also co-hosts the movie podcast, Role Calling, and shares her pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).
This station is owned by the FOX Corporation.
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