This episode is appropriately titled, as it has the feeling and pace of a Saturday afternoon in your own home. It begins with chores, while Becky, Jackie, and Crystal are at the mall, and Dan and Dwight are working on the truck. Aside from these standard weekend activities, the plot of the episode has the casual feel of a lazy afternoon, in a way that both reflects how realistic this show can be, and how skilled it is at letting things unfold while very little “happens.”
Dwight is coming over to work on the truck with Dan, but Roseanne expects they’ll get nothing done, so she and Dan make a friendly wager. If they don’t get the truck running by 4pm, Dan has to clean the oven every month for the rest of his life. If they do get it running, Roseanne has to do all the snow shoveling every winter for the rest of her life. Dwight comes over, is generally dickish, and has a weird hairdo.
Dwight, it turns out, is interested in Jackie… because literally every man in Lanford is interested in Jackie. Refreshingly we aren’t treated to any jokes about Jackie being a slut in this episode, though there will be plenty in the future. Instead, when Dwight asks Dan whether Jackie is dating anyone, Dan remarks, “Nobody would have her.”
Sorry, what? All the jokes about her getting around, and how inconsistent that is with this joke, aside, isn’t she dating Booker?? I suppose it’s possible that they’ve broken up off-screen, but that hardly makes Dan’s comment make any more sense. I do vaguely remember that Booker disappears at some point and doesn’t show up again until the Halloween episode in season 3, so I’ll have to put a pin in this to see if he does turn up again this season.
Dwight then treats us to a truly staggering amount of misogyny as he tells Roseanne that women could never understand cars, shouldn’t even be allowed to drive cars, etc. This seems like a great opportunity for the show to make a point about feminism, and it sort of haphazardly does, but only by relying on Roseanne’s sarcasm to drive the point home, and it doesn’t fully land.
That’s okay, though, because this is a pretty lighthearted episode, so even though it feels like there’s an impetus for something more here, it isn’t really the time or place to make a big point. Instead, Dwight is allowed to make an ass of himself in saying these things, and the audience knows how wrong he is, and what the show is saying about him, because he’s the butt of the joke.
It’s worth noting, however, that Dan totally gets it. Dwight talks down to Roseanne, then turns to Dan for confirmation on his misogynistic views on women and cars, and is met with this face:
Dan may not be perfect, but he knows better than to talk to Roseanne like that. Not just because she’s his wife, or because she can be abrasive and loud, but because it’s important to see that Dwight is so in the wrong, no men will agree with him on this. Dwight goes on to comment that he thanks god every day that he’s not married to Roseanne, and Dan, rather than smacking him around for talking that way about his wife and his marriage, replies, “Yeah, I think Rosie’s pretty much okay about that too.” This initially struck me as far too mild a reply to such an insult to Dan– but the line grew on me because it lets Roseanne keep her agency. Rather than responding with “Hey, don’t you say that about my woman,” we get, “she would never deign to be with someone like you.” It’s so simple, and hey, maybe not even intended to be more than a throwaway joke at Dwight’s expense, but it’s notable to me as someone nitpicking the show.
Regrettably, this is undercut by Frank’s wife, offscreen, being the shrieking harpy that I so despise, and so admire this show for rarely playing into. (Or, as TV Tropes would put it, Frank is the Henpecked Husband.) Can’t win them all.
Dwight carries on showing off for Jackie, because seriously, who doesn’t want this sexiness:
You know, as an aside, I so don’t miss mom jeans.
Jackie flirts with Dwight just for fun, and he goes on to say some more rude, misogynistic stuff. After throwing some car metaphors her way, concluding that it’d be a pleasure to “pop [her] hood,” Dwight gets summarily rejected by Jackie. It’s unclear quite where it starts to run off the rails, because she was still on board when he suggested coming over to her place, but who cares? This guy has literally no game.
Back inside the house, Jackie complains to Roseanne that it’s impossible to find a decent man in Lanford– seriously, has everyone forgot that this guy exists?
Crystal and Becky finally return– what, an hour later?– because I guess it took a long time to smear those three blushes on Becky’s cheek.
Crystal’s job (to just… be around, I guess) now complete, she literally spits out “Well this has been fun but I have to get home,” and walks quickly out the door, with no reaction from Roseanne or Jackie.
Frankly, my feelings about Crystal aside, she is a completely extraneous character here. She was eventually written off the show (I say written off, what I really mean is she disappeared without a trace) later on in the series because it had become clear that her character was unnecessary– Roseanne already had a ‘best friend’ trope/character in her sister Jackie. Crystal even says it at one point later on when she and Roseanne have a fight, and Roseanne calls Crystal her best friend– Jackie is really Roseanne’s best friend. But it’s clear even at this point, ten episodes into the show, that Crystal’s character, without more (personality, conflict, backstory, relationship building, anything) is completely unnecessary. As a result, it’s like the writers had no idea what to do with her even in the most basic scenes/setups. So we end up with exits like this one, where there was apparently no clear or logical way to get her from the kitchen out to the driveway like the plot required, so she just awkwardly takes off. It’s sloppy, and I think it’s just because no one really knew what to do with her.
As I watched the next bit, in which Dan berates Jackie for being so cruel as to reject Dwight, I started to get irritated. This is the sort of view that drives me nuts in a lot of young men– that women owe something to the men that flirt with them, or are nice to them, just because the men deigned to be kind, and as such any woman who rejects these advances is horrible/a bitch/selfish etc. Dan starts to scold her, that Dwight’s a nice guy and why not give him a chance, despite Jackie’s protests that he’s a pig and she gave him a shot but he blew it. It turns out, however, that this bit is merely a setup for the big reveal– Dwight is truly such a pig that after chasing Jackie for the whole episode, he immediately moved on to Crystal the moment she set foot outside, because hey, she’s a single woman, and she’s just as good as any other. I can’t tell you how relieved I was at this point, as Dan concedes and it becomes clear again that Dwight is not a sympathetic character, just a total buffoon.
So, with that, “Saturday” not only encapsulates the feeling of a real Saturday afternoon in any suburban American home, but starts to test the waters of pushing feminist ideas out there. Nothing major, no solid take home for the audience, but a sound rejection of everything Dwight stands for and the idea that a woman must accept any man who bestows his attention upon her.
The episode concludes, as so many do, with a sweet moment between Dan and Roseanne. It’s a perfect way to tie off this episode– it doesn’t have to be explicitly said, but these two are equals, and a great team.
– “Because everything in the free world ends up in the kitchen!”
– The clothes just get better and better.