Season 2, Episode 13
Air Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 8:30/7:30c on ABC
“My car. My rules.” – Murray
When Adam (Sean Giambrone) discovers he’s been nominated as nicest guy for the school yearbook instead of class clown, he decides to change his personality. He quickly learns it’s who you are that makes people like you and not the number of laughs you get. While Adam doesn’t get all the chuckles he’s seeking, “Van People” has plenty of humor to go around, along with some serious moments.
I couldn’t stop laughing as Pops (George Segal) watches Adam recite famous bits from comedians like Gallagher and Andrew Dice Clay. My Grandpa would’ve had the same shocked and confused look Pops has as he tries to process what passed for comedy back then. Segal’s scenes with Giambrone always seem special and often provide moments that are heartfelt and sincere, especially in “Van People” when the two discuss where good comedy comes from.
The laughs continue as Adam tries to find the right audience for his material with devastating consequences. I’m very impressed by Natalie Alyn Lind’s performance as Adam’s girlfriend Dana. Other than being the doting girlfriend, Lind never really stood out; that is, until “Van People” when she puts Adam in his place. At 14, it’s nice to see the writers give Lind material where she still can be a kid while having some serious moments to handle.
Erica (Hayley Orrantia) reminds me of my own sister, particularly in “Van People,” with her talent for manipulating people. I love how Erica is able to rile Barry up on a moment’s notice. The writers do a good job with the set up and resolution of the Erica/Murray (Jeff Garlin) story line. I just wish we had seen more of what makes Erica finally come around to Murray’s side.
I admit, a part of me joyfully geeked out when Barry buys the van and The A-Team theme starts playing. Barry is living what easily could have been my fantasy. Growing up, violent toys and TV shows with violence were a no-no at my house. Heck, I never even had a GI Joe™ as a kid. That all changed January 23, 1983 when The A-Team first aired; it wasn’t long before I had all the action figures and spent hours imagining I was part of the team.
I had some reservations as this episode approached. Those who have followed me for the last few years know I spent a number of years living in my car because I was homeless. Maybe I’m excessively sensitive but an episode titled “Van People” had me cautiously concerned. Based on personal experience, I find little humor about living in a vehicle. Show creator Adam Goldberg reached out on Twitter assuring me the episode is a true story and couldn’t be more harmless. Thankfully, Adam was right, and while I can’t speak for everyone who has shared my experience, I feel he and the writers approached the episode with good intentions, making it very entertaining. I’m still not a fan of the title but “Van People” is a laugh out loud episode full of humor that wraps up with a very touching message about embracing who you are.
Tweet me @Staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “Van People.”
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All photos © 2015 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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