Welcome to The Ex List recaps on IHLN! From what I know of the show, it’s about a woman named Bella Bloom (wasn’t that a friend of Strawberry Shortcake’s?) who is told by a psychic that she must find The One within a year or she’ll be alone forever. And it just so happens The One is a former love of Bella’s. Makes me wonder what season 2 could possibly be about, but that might be a cart-horse-counting-chickens issue.
We kick off with Bella’s sister Daphne’s bachelorette party. Apparently the night involved sushi, a mechanical bull, a pseudo-lesbian jaunt at the Jiggle Palace and now a visit to a psychic. Now that is a bachelorette party. Our intrepid heroine gets her reading and upon hearing the Old Spinster within a Year news, her natural reaction is,"Are you screwing with me?" Snerk. The psychic then drops the Ex-Boyfriend Caveat and I actually laugh at loud at Bella’s "Do you know how many men I’ve been with? A lot." line. Elizabeth Reaser certainly is adorable.
The psychic also tells Bella that her "son" she has with her ex is distressed tonight. The son is actually a dog named Rufus that Bella shares with her ex, Elliot. Bella gets Rufus and drags him along on the bachelorette party. He is promptly puked on by her sister in the limo.
The next day, as Bella washes puke off her dog, she tells her cast of kooky friends (Vivian, Augie and Cyrus) about the Ex News. They naturally can’t believe she’s considering it. At the flower shop, it turns out Bella and Daphne’s father is Mr. Mathews from Boy Meets World! Bella and Daphne discuss how hard it will be to figure out which ex it is, so Bella heads back to the psychic for more information, but the psychic wants Bella to have the journey on her own and to look for the "signs."
Her first big sign is a newspaper ad for Johnny Diamont performing in town. We get an AWESOME flashback to 2001 where Johnny is playing his guitar and is totally stoner-hippie-sensitive-artist guy. Bella breaks up with him. And it is his birthday. He snivels and cries and it’s fairly hilarious. Johnny is played by Eric Balfour, which is awesome, because Johnny mentions wanting to drink Bella’s blood and the last time I saw Eric Balfour in a pilot he got turned into a vampire by Julie Benz. That show turned out pretty good, so here’s hoping!
The kooky friends are around that night (they might be her roommates) and they discuss her going to Johnny’s show. Vivian then comes home and flashes her newly-waxed vajayjay at Bella. I’m not nearly as shocked by the flashing of the coochie as I am by the late-20s aged women never having sculpted the topiary garden, if you know what I mean.
At Johnny’s show, Bella and Daphne lay eyes on Johnny. He’s now a dark-haired Sid Vicious with the eyeliner-bisexual-punk thing going on. It works for Eric Balfour, I must say. And where did those ARMS come from? The chorus of his first song goes, "Bitch left me on my birthday!" and gets a hearty laugh from both me and my roommate Adam. Nicely done, show.
At home, couple Augie and Vivian argue about her wax job. He doesn’t like it because she looks like a 10 year-old girl. Haha. He grew up with Playboys from the 1970s: real boobs and shag carpet. Snerk. Weird subplot, but it gets some good jokes in.
Back at the bar, we get a slow-motion saunter from Johnny set to a punk version of "Tainted Love." He walks up, leans Bella back on the bar and just starts makin’ out with her. He then takes a swig of beer and just walks away. HOT. H-O-T. Even money Bella’s panties just burst into flames.
Outside, Daphne’s car has been towed, giving her a Plot Device to take her away so that Bella can chat with Johnny as he loads the van. She notices the eyeliner (hell yeah, sister) and when she says she can’t master it, he says, "Yeah, well… you never needed any help drawing attention to your eyes." Oooh. Then he leaves. She is hooked.
The next day, Cyrus calls her on the he’s-only-attractive-now-that-he-doesn’t-want-you thing. Totally. Augie and Vivian are still fighting over Waxy McBald and Viv asks him if he’d still love her if she had a giant gross mole on her back like Bella. The boys of course want to see said mole and are suitably grossed out. Don’t worry, this does have a point. The gun introduced in first act will most certainly go off in the third act.
Elliot the Ex shows up with Rufus and he asks Bella to walk the dog and have lunch with him. She doesn’t want to because then it’s like they’re dating. We learn they lived together for 3 years and he couldn’t commit. Ahhh. So we’ll watch all season just to see her end up with Elliott? Hmmm. I’m not sure how I feel about that. We also learn Bella is 33 years old, which is older than I thought.
Bella goes back to the bar to ask Johnny out. He’s obviously hesitant and then we find out it’s his birthday again and she sheepishly leaves. Haha, awesome. Cut to the flower shop when she calls him to sing him happy birthday. He shows up awhile later and helps her arrange flowers, which is adorable. Then they totally do it up against the cooler. Post coitus, Johnny is back to weeping and being all schmoopy. Yikes.
Surfing with the Kooky Friends. They can’t believe he cried after sex. They call her again on the only-liked-him-when-he-was-indifferent. She likes the chase. Well, we all do.
Flower Shop: Mr. Mathews asks how she broke the cooler handle. "Were you hanging from it?" Haha. Johnny appears and starts macking on her, much to her dad’s consternation. They walk along the beach and he won’t stop touching her. Johnny, not her father. That’d be a different show. Possibly hosted by Chris Hansen.
Anyway, Johnny suggests a nighttime skinny dip and she hits the brakes a little, which makes him start crying again. She wants flirty time and he wants Soul-crushing Connection Time. RUN, BELLA! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
House of Kooky Friends: Bella can’t believe how emotional and sensitive Johnny is and she doesn’t know what to do. She goes for the tried-and-true method of making him break up with her. So she sets out to be clingy and needy and jealous and crazy and it’s AWESOME, but she goes a little too far and Johnny stays to take a bath with her. Whoops.
Bathtub: Bella asks Johnny if he’ll wash her back and suddenly the mole that was on-stage in the first act explodes in the third act. Heh heh. Johnny is freaked out and tells her to go to a doctor, then jumps out of the tub. They have a heart-to-heart about him pulling back a little and he spends the night.
In the kitchen the next morning, Vivian reveals her merkin to Bella. If you don’t know what a merkin is, check out this. Turns out Vivian put it on sideways and Bella has to help her get it off. Boy, that’s a good friend. Taking off someone’s Cootchie Toupee really tests a friendship.
That night, Bella cajoles her friends into coming to Johnny’s gig and… I smell a revenge thing happening. Lo and behold, while she cheers from a table full of her friends and Daphne, Johnny asks her to raise her hand and then launches into a song that goes, "You’re the devil… no soul… no heart… vengeance… you’ll die alone… a houseful of cats… revenge…" and other awesome platitudes.
Epilogue: Daphne kick-boxes in the yard while Bella laments that she had it coming. Elliott wanders up and helps them look for Daphne’s engagement ring, which flew off while she was flailing about. He promptly finds it and asks Bella to brunch. She tells him she wants a partner, not bi-weekly sex and a makeout buddy. She then de-invites him to Daphne’s wedding and says not to come around except to get Rufus.
Later, walking down the street, Bella spots a poster for a missing cat named "Boo" and then spies the missing cat on a nearby fence. She dials the number on the poster and it turns out to be her high school boyfriend Tommy Anzide. At home, she adds him to her list of exes in her journal. See, that’s why you start a list when you’re in high school. It’s easier to remember when you’re old. The show ends with a kicky song and Bella lounging in the kiddie pool with her roommies.
Overall… I dig it. Elizabeth Reaser is excellent, the supporting cast is funny and the writing is decently sharp. It wasn’t 100% amazing, but I laughed out loud several times, which is more than I can say for a lot of supposed "comedies." Even if I didn’t have to tune in, I’d be back next week.
[washing Rufus after the puking incident]
Vivian: How many times are you going to wash him?
Bella: Until he stops smelling like apple martinis and eel.
What do you guys think? Good first episode? Coming back for more? Can it possibly be THAT obvious that she’s going to get back together with Elliott?