S02 E22 - TOW the Two Parties
aka TOW the Birthday Flan
SIGNATURE BEVERAGE: CARAMEL FLAN SHAKETINI
In Season 2, Episode 22, TOW the Two Parties, the gang decides to throw a party for Rachel’s birthday. Monica’s chair of the Food Committee and suggests they poach a salmon. Everyone says it’s too fancy, but Monica ultimately wins. Later on in the episode, you can clearly see the poached salmon on the kitchen table during the party. Another thing you see?
That’s right, instead of a birthday cake, Monica’s made a birthday flan. “Happy Birthday, Rachel! Here’s some goo!”
Monica starts off the episode talking about making a poached salmon for Rachel’s birthday. You know, to make it special! We do love us a poached salmon — it has a delicate quality that pairs really well with salads and other lighter fare. Try this recipe if you’re curious about it. The guys, on the other hand, keep it simple — it’s easy to spot the pizza and beer in the background and foreground of their party. However, the dish that steals the show this week has got to be Monica’s flan: they talk about it throughout the episode. Was flan really such a foreign idea back in 1996? We guess so, if it was sturdy enough to prop up several jokes during the half hour!
There are TONS of flan recipes out there, but they all feature pretty much the same ingredients: sugar and water (to make a caramel), and vanilla, eggs, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk (which you basically just mix up and pour over the caramel, then cook in a bain marie). Try this recipe from Goya. We mean, it’s Goya — they have to know what they’re doing, right?
Rachel starts off — shockingly — in a monochromatic look that goes effortlessly from commencement to coffee shop: a white button down with a sheer panel that shows off her delicate lace bra straps, paired with her signature black skirt and a printed black-and-white apron. She spends the rest of the episode in her party dress: an iridescent green collared shirt-dress that reminds Heather of a line of shirts they used to sell at Express.
We’re convinced that the oversized blue shirt that Monica’s wearing at the start of the episode is actually Richard’s. For the party, she changes into our favorite look of the episode: a yellow-green v-neck satin dress with zipper detail on the pockets and a subtle structured stitching down the bodice. It’s a beautiful, sexy look on a character who’s normally very subdued! It reminds us of this Kate Spade dress from a couple years ago — Elizabeth snagged one at a consignment shop a while back!
Phoebe starts off in a tropical shirt and sleek, shiny hair. The hair stays, but the outfits … just get worse. First, she lounges in Central Perk in what looks like her grandmother’s boucle sweater, with rosette buttons, paired with a long black skirt with printed flowers. She spends the party looking like nothing short of a disco clown, in a pink-and-green, polka-dotted nightmare of an outfit. We realize that she’s quirky, and that the 70s experienced a brief comeback around this time, but this is just too much.
Chandler’s wearing a Cat in the Hat tie! Maybe Gunther inspired him last week? Joey’s looking cute, first in a classic plaid button-down, and then for the party, in a NEW sport jacket! Hooray! He bought another one! Ross looks rather geeky throughout the episode, especially when he dons Dr. Green’s glasses.
Hellooooooo, Marlo Thomas! She’s looking AMAZING in a hot-pink silk wrap jacket, which she wears over a white sequined top and white pants. Dr. Green, however, looks like a walking Nautica ad. Did he fall off of his boat on his way here?
We’re only doing one topic under the Fun category this week, since all of the action revolves around Rachel’s birthday party. Monica’s trying to make it “special,” even though the gang’s not so sure her ideas will work. Phoebe sums it up nicely:
“I think fancy parties are only fun if you’re fancy on the inside, and I’m just not sure that we are.”
Then with the unexpected arrival of both of Rachel’s parents on party night, we’re treated to dueling festivities. Mrs. Green (Marlo Thomas) stays at the girls’ apartment, while Dr. Green (Ron Leibman) ends up going to the guys’ apartment, where they stage an impromptu (and way more fun) party of their own. At first, Rachel’s taken aback, but then she sees the silver lining (which Chandler quickly negates):
“I could look at the bright side: I get two birthday parties, and two birthday cakes.”
“Actually, it’s just one birthday flan.”
We bounce around the apartments, and the juxtaposition of the parties is palpable:
Chandler and Joey’s party: Fun! Volleyball! Pizza! Tongues down throats!
Monica’s party: MAKE SURE YOU PUT THE CAPS BACK ON THE MARKERS, BECAUSE THEY WILL DRY OUT. AND FOR GOD’S SAKE PUSH THE CAPS UNTIL YOU HEAR THEM CLICK.
In a hilarious sub-plot, Phoebe plays prison guard and helps some of the prisoners at Monica’s party “break out” to the party across the hall. It reads like an extremely tame episode of a jailhouse drama (Oz, we’re looking at you). First, she helps Gunther escape by “seeing water rings again.” Next, she tries to break out three people at once:
“Let me just get my coat.”
“There isn’t time. You must leave everything. They’ll take care of you next door.”
“Is it true they have beer?”
“Everything you’ve heard is true.”
Unfortunately, Monica catches her. Phoebe stands up to her though, reminding Monica that it’s Saturday night, and these people deserve to have a little fun. We guess they don’t find Boggle tournaments amusing?
Rachel, meanwhile, is caught between her two parents, who do the one thing you’re not supposed to do when you get divorced: bitch to your kids about your ex. By the end of the party, Rachel has a meltdown — 90s style. In ultra-dramatic slow motion, with a musical soundtrack echoing in the background. (Speaking of which, all of the music at the parties is from the FRIENDS soundtrack!)
Chandler comes to her rescue and comforts her — he’s been there before, when his parents split up. She tells a poignant story about the Fourth of July, when everyone would put aside their fighting for a few minutes while they watched the fireworks. Chandler hugs her (and gives us some nice ASMR action with the billowing of his silk shirt), and he seamlessly transfers the hugging over to Ross when he comes and checks on the birthday girl.
When the parties wind down and the parents try to leave at the same time, the gang has to do some last-minute work to keep them from seeing each other. Ross pretends to water-ski, Phoebe offers Dr. Green a creme de menthe, and Joey full-on makes out with Mrs. Green. (Some excellent comedy from Marlo Thomas during that exchange, by the way…)
Rachel does have one thing go in her favor that night: a rogue volleyball saves them from having to eat Monica’s birthday flan. Heads up!
OH YEAH, WE ALMOST FORGOT…
TIMMY THE TOOTH
There’s a somewhat random headshot (toothshot?) of an anthropomorphized tooth on the cork board at the guys’ apartment. The inscription reads: To Joey and Chandler. You two are my friends. Timmy the Tooth.
You know we had to look into this.
Turns out, The Adventures of Timmy the Tooth was a short-lived kids musical program on — you guessed it — NBC in the mid-90s. Here’s the spiel about it from Wikipedia: “This show was about the adventures of a talking tooth named Timmy and all his friends of Flossmore Valley as they go on adventures using their imaginations, which would usually have Timmy thwarting bad guys like the Cavity Goon and Miss Sweetie or the Gingivitis Gang.”
Nice cross-promotion, NBC producers!
Hey, Whippersnappers! Do you know who Neil Sedaka is? It’s okay, we barely knew, and we were actually alive when this show aired! He’s a former 60s’ heartthrob who gave us hits like, “Calendar Girl” and “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.” We can’t really recall what he did after that, though we guess he did enough to warrant Ross mentioning him in the episode!
We’re more interested in the fact that he provided one of the voices in one of our favorite 90s Disney World attractions, “Food Rocks.” It’s. So. Cheesy. You just HAVE to watch it. (Neil Moussaka makes his appearance at around the 7:52 mark).