Posted by : Stephanie | December 3, 2015
The Grinder is the greatest! Are you watching? It’s a Rob Lowe half-hour sitcom vehicle featuring the fabulous return to screen of Fred damn Savage! He’s just as lovable as ever!!!! And recently, they’ve even added parts for (swoon!) Timothy Olyphant and Jason Alexander! Oh but I get ahead of myself. Oh hail great show!
The Grinder’s premise is to-die-for: Hard-working humble Fred Savage is a real lawyer working at his father’s firm; brother Rob Lowe is a fake TV lawyer on a hit show. This odd couple charmingly collides when TV brother comes home, moves in with real lawyer brother and his wife and kids, and starts to work at their dad’s law firm because Rob Lowe thinks he’s good at lawyering! Hilarity, oh hilarity, ensues.
Rob Lowe is divine as a totally delusional Hollywood type who has no idea where reality (what’s that!) begins and fantasy ends. Meanwhile his humble brother experiences nothing but exasperation having hurricane Hollywood in his cozy suburban home.
What’s genius is that the TV lawyer’s ideas work! Oh lordy his over-the-top delusional ideas work! And let’s face it, humble bro needs some sparkle in his life. And let’s also face it, though Rob Lowe is beloved the world over for this famous character he plays, what’s the one thing he doesn’t have? The perfect domestic bliss that Fred Savage has.
To watch this show is to enjoy Rob Lowe’s hyperbolic character argue passionately in court as he would on TV, but in real life over real cases, middling cases, the kind of everyday cases that regular folks have (what’re they?!). And every episode is punctuated, self-referentially, by an episode of the lawyer TV show that relates to the drama of the sitcom episode. So post-modern! The lawyer TV show, also called The Grinder (like our show we’re watching right now!), features Rob Lowe’s character as said Grinder, and he has all these fabulous hysterical catch phrases and dramatic pauses. It’s so deliciously OVER-THE-TOP. And great satire of all the legal procedural drivel we’ve all suffered through as TV consumers. Insert any show! You know it all too well!
These last couple episodes have taken this already phenomenal show to even newer, loftier heights. Now we’re getting into why Rob Lowe’s character left his TV show. Apparently there was a falling out between him and the show’s creater/producer, played by Jason Alexander. He’s commiserating with gorgeous fellow actor Timothy Olyphant, who plays himself, and Tim’s dressed in a wetsuit about to surf and he’s like yeah man you gotta follow your own heart and stuff. Because Rob Lowe’s bummed that he’s supposed to take off his shirt in a scene and ravage his hot co-worker. He’s thinking that he’s worth more than that, that The Grinder is worth more than that. It feels cheap. It feels like the show’s taking a salacious turn. So he’s like yeah I’m doing it, Tim! I’m telling them off!
He does; a new The Grinder episode comes out; Timothy Olyphant now plays the title character in, wait for it, The Grinder: New Orleans!
Oh evil Iago! Oh dastardly Delilah! And Timothy gives Jason Alexander what he wants. Timothy’s shirt is off the entire damn time (yay!). Meanwhile, exasperated brother Fred Savage is torn, as always. On the one hand, he wants his damn life back. It’s all so absurd around him. Like his dad encouraging Rob Lowe to do lawyer stuff at his office even though he’s not a damn lawyer! People are insane! And Rob Lowe’s trying to do the parenting thing and offers Fred’s kids terrible advice that mostly works but is so so so wrong. But ultimately Fred realizes he has to support his brother, and so he instructs the law firm to go through Rob Lowe’s The Grinder contract to find loopholes.
But by far the best parts of the show are when Fred has to teach Rob lessons, and the only way to do that is to embody that which he eschews. He has to dip into Rob’s delusional world and work from within that insanity to get him to learn about real life. So in essence Fred has to embrace the madness in order to gain some sanity back. And it’s these scenes where Fred stretches that make the show such a gem, on top of all the gorgeous work that Rob Lowe does playing this loveable fascinating creature who lives on an entirely different planet.
I can’t think of any other two actors who could pull off this Odd Couple-ish reboot with more genius and acting chops and chemistry. Additional fabulous castmates include Aziz Ansari’s girlfriend from Parks & Rec Natalie Morales, the waitress from It’s Always Sunny Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Knots Landing‘s William Devane, and that awesome nincompoop from Eastbound & Down Steve Little.
I love The Grinder. You will too. Because although the TV-within-TV catchphrase is, “The Grinder rests,” thankfully it never does.