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I guess I just like liking things

I worked for UPS for a few months during college, and it was a completely different thing than working for the smaller places where I had been employed up to that point. For one, I wasn’t very important (until I messed up) – I didn’t matter, the numbers mattered. I got moved from loading, to unloading, and then to washing trucks, which involved maneuvering the package trucks into spaces with only inches to spare on both sides. This, coupled with the company’s “only three accidents allowed in the space of a year” policy led to my not being at UPS very long. My point is that it is very easy to feel unwanted and unneeded at a large enough company, and I can completely understand the Veridian employees answering the survey the way they did.

This episode highlighted for me something I keep coming back to: the characters tend to keep hitting the same themes, but it doesn’t grow tiresome in the course of the show (at least not to me). If the show had gone on longer, maybe it would have eventually, but we’ll never know. But as it happens, Veronica being in charge, Ted being liked, Linda wanting work to not be awful, and Phil and Lem being afraid of/in love with Veronica get hit time and time again. In some shows the repetition would be wearing, but I think it allows Better Off Ted to focus on the dialog and the situations once these establishing facts are understood. Is that just me?

Veronica’s storyline drives this episode. Her trying to change to appease the drones and her bosses cause both Linda’s ideas to be implemented (sort of) and Phil and Lem’s reactions. Ted’s storyline is fine, but doesn’t tie in with this main business much until the ending “we should both be doing what we do because we’re good at it” sentiment. Veronica and Linda are front and center for this one.

It’s fitting in an episode about community that we’re introduced to so many new coworkers. Check out this list!

  • Clark, the “bean counter” who administered the employee morale survey
  • Rick, Linda’s next-door cubicle neighbor, who got “Space”
  • Lily, to whom Veronica says “Nice sweater, Lily, I support your decision to wear it.”
  • Balding Guy, to whom Veronica says “Hi, balding guy. I love what you’ve done with the hair you have left.”
  • Manny, the older guy Ted wants to impress who has been working for Veridian for 30 years
  • Sheila, who embraces her new cat personality very eagerly;
  • Debbie – another Cat Pack member who hates herself for being allergic to cats
  • Bruce, and Rita more cat people
  • Janet, mentioned by Linda as being the sender of the YouTube video of the cat that flushes a toilet – maybe the same Janet Sheila is referring to when she says “Janet on the fourth floor was giving away kittens”?
  • Joe, the “Houston, we have a problem” space guy

I really enjoy any peeks we get at the larger Veridian family, and I especially enjoy Sheila. I’m glad she shows up again in later episodes.

I’m trying to grasp the Linda plot completely, and I can’t decide if it’s brilliant or if I’m giving it too much credit. Normally people have interests and then find other people who have those interests and build a friendship. Veridian’s method of assigning interests then creates these friendships, whether or not the people initially had the assigned interest. And it really doesn’t take long for them to latch on to their new identities, either. It can be difficult to ascertain how many days an episode covers, but this one hints at a couple of days. But whether it’s two or five, these people have really latched on to their new personalities. These people are grasping at anything to give them a spark of life!

Linda wanting to fit into a community and then immediately wanting to fit into a different community after getting one really just kind of sums up her character, doesn’t it? I mean, I don’t blame her one bit for wanting to sometimes hang out with different people, but you can’t help but think Ted is right to not pursue a relationship with her right now when her instinct is find something new on the heels of finding something new.

I do wish we had gotten to see what the classic cars and Green Bay Packers groups got up to, but I am not at all disappointed by the cats and space groups.

I haven’t seen an episode of Mad Men, but I can’t help but think Ted’s storyline is a little inspired by that time period. Mad Men had been on the air two years already by the time Better Off Ted showed up, and the drinking and womanizing by the older guys at Veridian certainly seem to be similar to what I hear goes on in that show. The interactions between “Teddy” and the older guys are fantastic, playing directly into Ted’s father issues. His discomfort at trying to win them over fighting against his natural instincts make for really funny moments, the best of which has to be when he asks us, the viewers, how to know when he’s gone too far in his attempts to be liked.

Veronica steals this episode, and it’s really looking like we need to keep a scoreboard to know just how often that happens. Her episode-long journey from obvious resentment and anger at being told her underlings (via survey) that she’s “too intimidating” to her softening her image to her quick hatred of having to be nice back to being intimidating must have been a lot of fun for Portia, because it sure is fun to watch. (Side note: I’m pretty sure that’s the World’s Most Famous Extra on screen when Veronica first shows up with her hair down, but I’m not going to look through his reels to be certain.) By the time she gets to congratulating Phil on the microscopic research before the microscope is even turned on and complimenting the cupboard door, her frustration is almost palpable. Her return to Standard Veronica is a relief, and I love that we get yet another reference to her hair/hairstyle being the source of her power. I am pretty sure this is the third one in seven episodes, and that might be enough for someone to write a think piece on “Veronica as Samson: A Study in Strength Via Hair.”

Bits and Pieces:

  • The opening conversation between Phil and Lem about about Phil looking like a possum is some foreshadowing that I had never noticed in my previous watchthroughs
  • Ted had a near-unanimous rating of “Excellent” with several write-in votes for “adorable.” Veronica’s response: “Oh, brother. Look out, Jesus.”
  • When Linda suggests the company let people decorate their cubicles Veronica responds, “Really? That’s all it would take?”
  • “Enjoy your new personalities” Again, it’s actually by decree of Veronica that the groups form. Looking back, they never had any other choice!
  • “No, it’s mine.” – Linda, being proud and protective of her “cat-tributes” invention
  • “When I heard an undeserved compliment it makes my ears want to throw up” says Lem “Oh, your ears are always throwing up about something.” replies Phil
  • “In fact, I think you’re Phil-larious” – Veronica
  • “Good for you for having a wife” – Veronica, really reaching the bottom of her barrel of compliments
  • These people in the old guys party in Ted’s office, are they all Veridian people? Or did they invite outsiders?
  • Veronica is a apparently a Battlestar Galactica fan. She uses the word “frakking” when trying to find the creamer
  • Veronica’s made-up word: magniflorious
  • Ted’s made-up word: horrifliffic
  • “The druggie teen slut is right, Ted.” – Veronica, about Linda
  • “And the next time some survey asks you how happy you are, you check ‘very’ or I’ll give you something to be happy about.” – Veronica, with a line that perfectly captures the character of Veronica.
  • “The hair is up, that’s all they hear.” This calls back to Linda’s “Listen to my tone, not my words” speech from an earlier episode, and it really makes you wonder how Veridian got so powerful when their employees are so easily duped.


“Veridian Dynamics. Teamwork. It’s a beautiful thing. In business it means working together for a common goal. X-rays show that when people work together, they’re happier, and less likely to do something weird. Veridian Dynamics. Teamwork. It keeps our employees gruntled. ”

Ideas/Inventions mentioned in this episode:

  • Cleaner that kills everything, which is why Veridian isn’t allowed to sell it


Next week: S01E07 – You Are the Boss of Me

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