Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Animals – "Cheating" (1966)

I know you’ve been

Since I retired last year, I’ve been trying new things.

For example, when I woke up with the flu last Friday, I did something I’d never done before: I installed myself on the sofa and binge-watched an entire season of a television show in a single day.

It would have been too much to get through an entire season of a dramatic show with hour-long episodes in just one day – especially when I kept nodding off – so I binge-watched the first season of Master of None, a Netflix comedy series with half-hour-long episodes.

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Master of None stars Indian-American comedian Aziz Ansari as Dev Shah, an aspiring thirty-something actor who lives in an apartment in New York City and hangs out with an eccentric but lovable group of single friends.  (If you think that the show sounds like Seinfeld and Friends and Girls and Louie and numerous other old and new sitcoms, you’re right.)

The critics went absolutely ga-ga over Master of None.  The show is very funny at times but not so funny at other times.  In fact, it’s downright annoying at times.  

When I say Master of None is downright annoying at times, I really mean Aziz Ansari is downright annoying at times.  

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The Master of None episode titled “The Other Man” was by far the most interesting episode from the show’s first season.  First one thing, it starred Claire Danes.  For another, it starred Claire Danes.

Claire Danes
In “The Other Man,” Danes plays a well-known restaurant reviewer named Nina who starts talking to Dev at a party so she can avoid talking to some other guy.  One thing leads to another, and pretty soon Dev and Nina are back at her gorgeous Manhattan apartment, ready to get busy.

But they don’t get busy.  That’s because Dev notices a photograph of Nina with a handsome guy on a table near the sofa where they are making out.  She claims the guy is her brother, but Dev is suspicious – when he points out that she’s wearing a wedding dress in the photo, she fesses up and admits she is, in fact, married to the guy.  As a result, Dev decides not to have sex with Nina.

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The plot of “The Other Man” strained credulity.  We’re talking CLAIRE DANES here, boys and girls.  We’re supposed to believe that Dev would turned this woman down just because she’s married?  (Not a chance, dude.)

Danes and Ansari – in your dreams, dude
There was another problem as well.  I didn’t believe for a minute that the Claire Danes character would have been interested in the Aziz Ansari character.  Ansari is short and not particularly attractive, and his character is goofy and immature.  

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Not surprisingly, Dev begins to have second thoughts about his decision as soon as he leaves Nina’s  apartment.  

One of his friends – a lesbian who is much more of a sexual predator than the straight male characters in the show – tells him there was no reason for him to feel guilty about sleeping with Nina just because she’s married.  After all, she’s the one who’s cheating.  (Dev’s not only unmarried, but doesn’t even have a girlfriend).  Also, she and her husband don’t have children – in her view, sleeping with someone else’s wife isn’t a big deal, but sleeping with someone else’s mom is.  

Dev eventually comes around to his lesbian friend’s point of view, but only after he sees the husband acting like an entitled assh*le at a neighborhood ice cream shop.  Because the husband is a pr*ck, it’s OK to mess with him.  So Dev pays a booty call on Nina.

Claire Danes in “Homeland”
The script then jumps the shark.  Dev and Nina get caught by her husband.  He flips his lid, but so does she – the hubby has a little somethin’ somethin’ going on the side as well, and Nina calls him on his infidelity when she gets caught in the act.  

A month later Dev runs into the couple and learns that his getting caught with Nina by her husband has saved their marriage.  The incident caused the two to face their infidelity issues head on and work through them.  Now they are the happiest they’ve been since they were newlyweds.

In other words, Dev helped save a couple’s marriage by having sex with the wife.  (Really?)

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What’s the coolest thing about being the creator and the star of a successful TV series?  You have the ability to cast CLAIRE DANES on the show as a character who has the hots for your character.

I guarantee you that when Ansari cast Danes for the Nina role, he fantasized that Danes might be attracted to him and that something would happen between them off-camera.  (I’m sure he knew it was a long shot – probably an extremely long shot – but dum spiro, spero as they say in South Carolina.

And I also guarantee you that he wrote the episode the way he did in hopes of making a favorable impression on her.  First, his character turns her down when he finds out she is married – how noble is that!  Second, when Dev does have sex with Nina after all, that leads to Nina and her husband rekindling the spark of love that made them get married in the first place.  In other words, Dev’s getting caught having sex with a married woman saved her marriage.  

(Hey, it was worth a shot)
If you don’t think that Ansari was hoping against hope that his script would make Danes consider the possibility that having sex with him off camera would be a good thing for her real-life marriage, you don’t understand how the male mind works.

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“Cheating” – which was written by Eric Burton and Animals’ bassist Chas Chandler – was the B-side to the group’s 1966 hit, “Don’t Bring Me Down.”  Both songs were released on the Animals’ fourth American album, Animalization. 

Here’s “Cheating,” which plays during the closing credits of “The Other Man”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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