Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “Scaredy Kate”

I can’t be sure, as I haven’t watched any earlier episodes since they aired, but “Scaredy Kate” might just be the best half hour Ben and Kate has put forward in its (short) life so far. It’s a Halloween episode, sure, but it doesn’t rely on kooky costumes or seasonal gimmicks for its laughs. Instead, it feels like something that arose naturally from the characters we’ve come to know, and hopefully love.

So BJ is attempting to convince Kate to ditch her usual stay-at-home Halloween night plans, and try to go have fun for a change. It almost doesn’t work, until her hot neighbor stops by and invites her to a party, and she responds by mumbling incoherently and yelling “TRICK OR TREAT” after him as he walks out the door. And that’s where we get at the core idea of this episode, that Kate has no idea what she’s doing with men since becoming a mother, and she thinks she has to change the way she is to find a guy. Except she can’t really do that. And it’s absolutely hilarious.

This episode really is a showcase for Dakota Johnson, who’s funnier here than she’s ever been before. A personal favorite was, “What’s bippin? What does that mean?” She sells the confusion and awkwardness perfectly, and contrasts it with her comfort among her family and friends. Kate’s not always a total mess, but sometimes the switch flips, and it’s great to see.

Probably the most unexpectedly enjoyable thing so far from Ben and Kate has been the growing relationship between Maddie and BJ. The wild woman and the little girl play off each other with the perfect amount of antagonism (“You’ve ruined my night, and I need to talk to you about it.”) as well as sweetness. And, as her monologue in “21st Birthday” proved, Lucy Punch only gets funnier when you let her go for a while, so it makes perfect sense that pairing her with a mostly-silent child works well.

Tommy and Ben get a plot, too, about eating some pot candy, and it could have been a little too silly and overdone, if it wasn’t relegated to the C story. There, though, it squeezes out as many laughs as it can while also finding enough time to pop out a key character moment about Ben being a wanderer who’s finally settled down again. It’s important, I think, that we do get that inkling of what Tommy was doing when Ben the “emotional carnie” wasn’t around, and if it comes wrapped up in a sick-dance-move ribbon, I certainly hope we get more of it.

I want to take the temperature a little bit here. Are you guys on the same page with me in absolutely loving Ben and Kate? Is anyone even watching? I’m not much of a numbers guy, but as far as I can tell, the ratings aren’t fantastic, so please, if you like this show, get everyone you can to watch it. Or if you don’t, feel free to hit me up in the comments.