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WILFRED Makes You Feel “Guilt” for Laughing at Abortion Jokes
Wilfred is at its best when Ryan is dealing with an unorthodox situation while Wilfred is running around performing the most shocking of deeds. Last season’s “Respect” was a personal favorite of mine because it saw Ryan volunteering at a hospice to impress Jenna. What made it truly stand out was the idea of Wilfred taking drugs and suffocating an old woman. The sheer audacity of it is enough for it to stand out, but when you add in the dog suit and Wilfred’s claim that he’s a god, you have dark comedy gold. “Guilt” manages to recreate that feeling by bringing back Ryan’s aggressive sister Kristen, recently returned from India and pregnant to boot. When we last saw Kristen, Ryan tried to blackmail her by exposing the affair she was having with Dr. Arturo (Nestor Carbonelli), thus ruining her marriage. Ryan feels guilty for what he did – setting up the episode’s theme – and allows Kristen to stay at his place a couple of days while Arturo gets the kitchen redone in their newly purchased condo. Meanwhile, Wilfred goes through many attempts to abort Kristen’s baby. Yeah, that’s right. Wilfred tries to kill an unborn baby for the majority of the episode.
The only reasoning Wilfred – and the audience – needs to justify killing a baby is that it might be cuter than he is. The fact that Wilfred goes into a strange monologue about the never-ending war between dogs and babies is just icing on the cake. And then we get an entire extra layer of cake and icing when Wilfred cuts open and disembowels a watermelon that’s meant to represent what he’ll do to the baby. It’s absolutely disturbing and easily gets the biggest laugh of the episode. In a nutshell, everything Wilfred does in this episode is spot on, even the non-baby related antics – his call to Jellybeans the golden retriever was particularly enjoyable.
But while Wilfred’s obsession with Kristen’s baby is easily the most entertaining aspect of “Guilt,” it’s not the main focus. It quickly becomes apparent Kristen and Arturo are not moving into a condo together. In fact, Kristen was given a restraining order and is just dealing with the situation by denying it. She starts out all calm and zen-like from spending a year in India, but she soon begins to revert to her natural, antagonistic personality. Kristen was a huge weakness in the first season. She’s not at all likable, though she’ll occasionally give us glimpses of humanity underneath her abrasive exterior. She’s always ready to blame Ryan for everything at the drop of a hat. So when Arturo shows up revealing he still wants to be with her but has no plans to leave his wife – essentially making Kristen his mistress – Ryan finally tells her how uncomfortable this situation makes him.
And that’s where Kristen turns around. She uses her go-to-strategy of blaming Ryan for destroying her marriage and making her a single mother to a child whose father already has a family. And as she’s blaming him she realizes she’s doing so because she doesn’t want to accept responsibility for her own actions. Suddenly she’s the one feeling guilty. Ryan didn’t make her have an affair or get pregnant with a married man’s child. That was all Kristen’s doing. Out of all the ways Wilfred could have gone about humanizing her, this was the best way. Ryan didn’t have to yell at her to put her in her place. It was her own ever-growing pile of mistakes finally crashing down around her that opened her eyes to how unacceptable her behavior has been. I cannot express enough how important it was for Ryan to not have attacked Kristen. Having him calmly try and talk to her about Arturo was exactly the right way for him to handle this because Kristen’s guilt was so much more than Ryan’s; she just could never admit it.
For a show that talks about aborting babies so flippantly, for it to have such a cathartic moment is impressive. As much as I loved the zaniness and surreal point of view of the season opener, this is the version of Wilfred I am most fond of. It’s that mix and dark humor and actual human emotion, with a dash of more broad humor, that creates a truly great episode of Wilfred.