S01E07: Tonight’s Wilfred employs a convoluted means to convey a very simplistic message. In other words, status quo. In this episode, Ryan’s pride is explored: manifested in his refusal to accept a much-needed help from his overbearing sister. Meanwhile, Wilfred falls deeply in love with a stuffed giraffe… but it’s mostly a sexual thing. Like I said, status quo.
Ryan’s meager financial situation (resultant of spending all his time smoking pot with and supporting in all definitions of the word an insatiable anthropomorphic canine) is addressed; despite his modest funds, Ryan refuses to allow his overbearing sister to give him any money. Thus, Wilfred concocts a scheme to teach Ryan a lesson about pride (it’s always ambiguous just how much control Wilfred has over any given situation, but it’s constantly at least suggested that he is nearly omnipotent) by crashing his car into the minivan of a zealous business executive, Beth (Jane Kaczmarek). In lieu of payment, Wilfred convinces Ryan to seduce Beth. Wilfred’s plan is partially to force Ryan into a situation so humiliating, so degrading, so unpleasant that he’ll realize that swallowing his pride and asking his sister for the necessary funds to pay off the damages of the car accident is the viable option. The other part of Wilfred’s plan comes from his overwhelming desire to make love to Beth’s son’s stuffed giraffe, Raffi.
Ryan begins his tryst with Beth, but, ever the moral figure, cannot go through with the act. Thus, Wilfred involves himself. Now, this episode of Wilfred was chock full of silly humor (for instance, Wilfred’s attempt to apply military logistics to the board game Battleship), which makes the series, already treading dangerously close to “cutesy” what with the whole man-in-a-dog-suit thing, further hazard those waters. But when teamed with dark/adult situations, like the suggestion that Wilfred engaged in a sexual affair with Beth without her knowing (in order to keep her and Ryan’s relationship going, in order to maintain his with the giraffe–and to teach Ryan his weekly lesson, of course), I think “cutesy” is kept at a safe distance.
There are two major qualms I have with this episode. The first is the theme: pride. The concept, in my understanding, is supposed to be overarching. And in nature, the situation in which Ryan finds himself is ridden with opportunities to highlight the conflict of pride. However, I think for the most part, the them takes a backseat to Ryan’s horror with Beth’s sexual lunges. Sure, they bring it up every once in a while, as when Ryan mentions that he can’t sleep with someone he doesn’t have a connection with (that’s sort of pridey, I guess? In the good way), but it seems like, instead of writing a story about pride, the writers wrote a story wherein Ryan is stuck in a state of sexual exploitation (probably only written to back the “Wilfred wants to have sex with a giraffe” story), and then strung it together with a theme they thought could apply.
Unfortunately, another problem was not averted: Wilfred is becoming repetitive. Taking this episode alone, it was funny (I particularly enjoyed Wilfred’s British nobleman persona, for some reason) and twisted (as explained above), which are both what Wilfred strives for. But week after week, Wilfred manipulating Ryan, throwing in a series of tawdry one-liners, hovering between man and dog… the formula is becoming a little tired. It’s not tedious yet, but I’d like to see Wilfred break routine before that point is reached. The problem is, the show is a parable, so in nature it is going to be formulaic. Wilfred teaches Ryan a lesson about a general concept that arises early on in the episode through manipulation, all the digging holes and stuff. Last week’s episode was more of a deviation, what with Wilfred losing his grip over Ryan; I hope some different plotlines are explored so that both characters can show that they have more to offer than silly humor and narcotic glorification, which I really think they do. But as for this week, status quo.