From left: Scrotal Recall's Evie (Antonia Thomas), Dylan (Johnny Flynn) and Luke (Daniel Ings).
A week or two ago, I was scrolling through Netflix, as I do whenever I am not eating, sleeping, or participating in my competitive javelin leagues, when a certain new program caught my eye. The title alone was enough to immediately overpower everything else on the page. The show in question? "Scrotal Recall," a new Netflix Original that was most likely titled through some sort of mail-in contest that ended up having only 3-5 contestants. Immediately, I knew I had to watch it.
According to the synopsis provided by Netflix, the story follows a "young, single guy" (nice!) who, after being told he has an STD, has to go back and contact all of his past sexual partners to alert them of this. The disease in this case is chlamydia, which lowers the stakes a bit. Basically he's just telling people, "Hey, you need to take antibiotics." My hunch is that it was originally herpes, but they thought that was too edgy. What is for sure is that it looks terrible. And I'm going to watch all of it.
I'm not going down this road without a trusty sidekick, of course, and in this instance, that sidekick is none other than the latest alcoholic variety my bodega has to offer, which is Mike's Hard Lemonade: FROZEN. It comes in a pouch like a Capri-Sun and is 5% alcohol. You do have to put it in your freezer 6 hours ahead of time, however, which is by far the most planning I've ever put into drinking a Mike's Hard Lemonade. It smells like a combination of italian ice and a liquor you'd find in your grandmothers's house after she died. Time to watch!
EPISODE 1: Abigail
Each episode is named for one of the ladies that now has secret chlamydia. I feel bad for Abigail... it's a nice, classy sort of name. Doesn't seem like the sort of lady that would be jazzed to find our her goople's chock-full of the C-Myds. SIDE NOTE: Mike's Hard Lemonade: FROZEN is not great. It's very sugary and makes my jaw hurt. But back to the show. First thing: Whoa! Everybody's British! We meet our protagonist as he gets the news and then goes to a coffee shop to meet his friend, who ably fills the "lovable horndog" character that attractive actors with well-groomed stubble have been occupying for infinity. He dispenses some penis-based advice, and then quickly takes us back to a wedding, during which Dylan will presumably meet and have sex with Abigail.
This first episode is not bad. I was expecting probably somebody farting diarrhea during the vows to be the comedic style of Scrotal Recall, but it seems this is actually more of a very decent show saddled with an extremely unfortunate name. They establish the main characters: Dylan, the chlamydia source himself, Luke, the handsome witty best friend, and Evie, (played by Antonia Thomas who you may recognize from Misfits) who is the chill photographer best friend and clearly the love of Dylan's life (though he doesn't realize it yet!). So far that's the largest problem with the show, is that the characters fall into very well-trodden archetypes. Dylan is the nice guy, the one girls keep "looking over," probably because he's a mopey sad baby, who believes on walks on the beach and meeting your soul mate when you're chosen for the same seat on a Ferris Wheel. Luke is your cookie-cutter fast-talking playboy, a British Vince Vaughn, which is to say, he is basically Vince Vaughn but just seems classier for no real reason. Evie is the romantic interest that's made to seem very generically "cool" while not being assigned any sort of actual pursuit or defining personality trait.
Plotwise, it's a fairly forgettable tale of a wedding, where the bride is a control freak and the groom gets cold feet, only to reunite in the end. Dylan gets broken up with at the wedding and then ends up having sex with the concierge. None of it is surprising. Before the episode ends, it's revealed that Evie is now engaged in present day. Bummer, Dylan. You should have given her chlamydia while you had the chance.
The Mike's Hard Lemonade FROZEN is unpleasant to drink. It has a very chemical aftertaste, especially as it gets warmer. If I was forced to drink a glowstick, this seems like it would be similar.
Luke and Dylan: Mope Lyfe
EPISODE 2: Anna
It seems every episode is going to be two very short segments at beginning and end in the present day, with the bulk of each episode being a flashback to a sexual experience of Dylan's, which I suppose is what I signed up for. This time they go back to an older woman, who was a friend of a fling of Luke's. After arranging a double-date in their apartment, the power cuts out and they all do a variety of stuff and then the sex happens. The basic dynamics remain much the same, with Luke trying to pursue his detached brand of sexual activity, while Dylan mopes and attaches an incredible amount of value to a woman he's barely met, and meanwhile Evie glances longingly at Dylan during pauses. The show actually feels a lot like How I Met Your Mother, minus Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel's married couple, in its even-keeled speed. It's never boring enough to lose your attention, but there's never really too much going on. It's a very grilled cheese viewing experience -- comfortable, not bad, but also not terribly interesting. We find Luke struggling with an inability to confide in people, but that's another textbook trait of his archetype, and we find that Evie is a graphic designer as well as a photographer, but don't see much further into her beyond that. Even in the scene where Luke finally does open up, the things he opens up about are still almost exclusively sex-related and outwards-facing. I at least did enjoy that him confessing his weaknesses didn't end in a woman shushing him to say "It's ok," and then climbing on top of him. She leaves, as she should. (He confesses to punching a dog, after all?) We also see Evie meeting her future beau, who is one of Anna's friends, in an extremely convenient turn. Is everyone in Britain separated by less than two friends? It seems possible.
On the Mike's Hard Lemonade FROZEN front, the taste still isn't good but I've found myself drinking it quickly out of habit? I may have developed some sort of chemical dependency on a flavoring agent.
EPISODE 3: Cressida
It wouldn't be British without a Cressida in the mix somewhere! This episode follows pretty much the mold of the others -- just different situations in which people have sex. This time, it's a birthday party. People get drunk and dance, Luke has sex with a woman. We do find that Luke was teased/unpopular when he was younger, which possibly contributes to his need for validation now, which again, is all squarely within the tired trope of the "likable womanizer." This episode does have one redeeming twist, however, in that the woman Dylan beds is actually, after much drinking and escapades, Evie herself. They end up having sex in a barn, but don't go anywhere with it because Evie is already dating Mel, her future fiancÃ©. When we cut back to present day, Evie's getting herself tested for chlamydia, and then leaves, inexplicably, on a bicycle. Does she have a DUI? (Or whatever is the British equivalent?) I feel like the only thing more embarrassing than getting tested for chlamydia is riding a bicycle to go get tested for chlamydia. Plus, then your bike might have chlamydia. Meanwhile, Dylan goes to meet with Abigail about the whole "my genitals are diseased" thing.
I've finished the Mike's Hard Lemonade FROZEN. I will likely not buy another in this lifetime. My mouth is coated in fake sugar and I feel sluggish. I decide to switch to Pacifico.
Dylan and Jane (Jessica Ellerby)
EPISODE 4: Jane
Scrotal Recall (I was starting to take this seriously until I had to type that again) actually seems to be evolving for the better. This episode breaks the pattern we've seen so far, and takes place during a hospital visit that was alluded to in an earlier episode. It's clear that the show is honing in more and more on Dylan and Evie's destined relationship. No one even has sex in this episode! They almost do, but then... well, they end up at the hospital, from the almost-sex. The characters, however, are still largely unexplored. Their moves are easy to predict, which again, leads to a show that's very watchable thanks to well-written story and dialogue, but which lacks a real grip to be had. If at the beginning of the next episode, Dylan was eaten by wolves, I would just shrug, turn it off, and go eat something.
Pacifico's a good beer, very underrated. Corona's sort of cornered the marketplace, but Pacifico is a lot more refreshing and has a less artificial taste. Good to keep in mind for rooftop barbecues.
EPISODE 5: Bethany
They seem to be straying further and further from the "telling people he has chlamydia" part of the show, and I really can't blame them. This episode finds Luke and Evie at a bowling alley for a party for Luke's mysterious "work" which I assume is some sort of vague job like "digital consultant," or "trans-office communication chief." Meanwhile, Dylan goes through a crisis when his current girlfriend, Bethany, has her brother come by to meet him. He freaks out about impressing him and then freaks out upon realizing how serious of a relationship he's in with Bethany. This is a bit strange, since Dylan has spent most of the series so far a breath away from getting down on one knee for every female pedestrian he passes. Luke desperately wants to be liked by his female co-workers (it also seems that inter-office romance, especially in bowling alley back offices, is much more accepted in Britain) and eventually he is. Later, Evie and Dylan get together and pine for each other a bunch. I'd love to see a mope-off between Dylan Recall (or whatever his last name is) and Ted Mosby. JUST HAVE SEX WITH YOUR BEST FRIENDS, EVERYONE!
Pacifico's still killing it.
EPISODE 6: The One Where Everyone Dies of Chlamydia. Just kidding, it's called Phoebe.
I hope this is a Friends crossover but I doubt it, since the timelines are completely different.
PHOEBE IS DEAD. The episode starts with Dylan saying her phone's disconnected and her e-mails are bouncing back, so they go to her parents' house, where her mom tells them that PHOEBE DIED?! WHAT THE FUCK SCROTAL RECALL? Your last episode was in a bowling alley! Then they go into a whole thing about how Phoebe was just like Luke, and we find out Luke has secretly been in love with her forever, but now she is deceased. Are they trying to make up for the lack of drama in the other episodes in the last 24 minutes of the season? Dylan and Luke even get into a physical fight into the bedroom of a dead woman. Then Dylan takes Evie out to tell her he's in love with her, and can't. Luckily Luke bursts in and tells Evie that Dylan is secretly in love with her. She starts crying and then the episode ends. I mean, I guess finales are supposed to be dramatic, but whoa. This is like if there was an episode of Two and a Half Men where Charlie Sheen had sex with a woman and then SHE DIED. And then they told the half-man he was adopted.
I've made a line graph of the amount of deaths in Scrotal Recall by episode, for your reference:
It's not bad. Far from bad, actually. If you like How I Met Your Mother but want to feel smarter watching it, Scrotal Recall is the show for you. If anyone knows the creator, please ask him why he named it that. Also, Mike's Hard Lemonade: FROZEN tastes bad and Pacifico is an underrated Mexican Beer.