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Playing House - Cookie Jar/None of Your Business - Review: "This is 40"

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The girls are back! The third season of Playing House picks up shortly after Season 2's final "Celebrate Me Scones." "Cookie Jar" gets right into the swing of things, examining Maggie and Emma's lives as they both face some miniature mid-life crises.

"Cookie Jar" sees the girls having taken up a self-defense class for moms, taught but an eccentric but well-meaning martial artist who goes by Cookie. Maggie excels at it. Emma...well...does not.

Yet it isn't the self-defense class itself that sets off their crises. Mark and Emma seem to be going steady, having become an item after his surprise visit to the girls' doorstep in the Season 2 finale. They haven't, however, gone any further than a couple of middle-schoolers necking behind the lockers. As Emma and Maggie discuss the fact that it's been over 20 years since she and Mark have "gotten serious," Emma starts to wonder if Mark's expectations of what they once had as teenagers will cause things to essentially fall short.

While Maggie and Emma are discussing the challenges of middle age, Bruce shows up- and he's got news. He's met someone and they're getting serious. Not only that, but he'd like to introduce her to Maggie, and ultimately Charlotte. Maggie readily agrees, relieved to have Bruce off her hands, and goes on to invite them both over for a meal.

As Maggie and Emma prepare for dinner (mostly Maggie) and imagine what kind of deadbeat Bruce has hooked up with (mostly Emma) ("An out-of-work temp with a terrible bob and Rosea?"), they get the surprise of their lives. Bruce shows up with his new girlfriend in toe, who happens to be a familiar face. Nancy apparently goes by more than one name, because she's also Cookie the self-defense instructor.

The already awkward night gets even more so, when Mark goes all "Dawson's Creek" and sneaks in Emma's window so they can have some "alone time." After getting mistaken by an intruder (and nearly knocked unconscious by self-defense star Maggie), Mark is forced downstairs where the five continue on with world's strangest dinner party.

In the long run though, this makes things worse. Although not bothered by the act itself of Bruce getting a girlfriend, seeing two happy couples in front of her (combined with an intense game of Heads-Up) leads Maggie into her own crisis. Emma's got Mark and Bruce has got Cookie/Nancy, leaving Maggie on her own.

When the girls work together to finally confront their own problems, they lead each other to two important realizations. Maggie might be ready to start dating again. And Emma? Her and Mark's romance might not be what it was twenty years ago, but that certainly doesn't mean it's going to be any less real.

"None of Your Business" continues on the theme of midlife, taking a look at not-only Maggie and Emma's career goals, but those of their friend ( and Mark's ex-wife)'s Tina "Bird Bones" Rodriguez.
Emma and Tina haven't seen each other since she got together with Mark. When she runs into Tina, she's concerned there might be some weird vibes between them. Tina, however, assures her there's not. She's reinventing herself post-divorce, and that includes starting a new-career. The only problem? She won't tell the girls exactly what that career is.

Determined to figure out what's going on, Emma goes over to her house, where she discovers that Bird Bones has been duped into a makeup pyramid scheme. Emma decides to channel some of former business savvy and confront the makeup empire boss Vanessa, played by Grace and Frankie's always hilarious June Diane Raphael. Things go awry when Emma's competitive nature gets the best of her and they end up in deeper than they started. To remedy the situation, the two decide to throw a makeup party at Maggie and Emma's in order to move as much product as possible. However, Tina isn't exactly an excellent salesperson, and she ends up being pushed to the side up by the more assertive and experienced Emma.

Meanwhile, Maggie and her nursing buddy Jeff get paired up with Dr. Erikson, the hospital's most icy-hearted MD. Although Jeff has a bit of trouble keeping up, Maggie manages to excel under the pressure. Things seems to be going well for them until Maggie gets voluntolled as the makeup party model, where Emma smears bee venom lipgloss all over her, which she's allergic too.

This leaves Maggie with no choice but to go into work with extremely swollen lips. Although she initially tries to hide her predicament from Dr. Erikson, he eventually finds out, and surprisingly, understands, even going as far as to tell her that he's requested her (and Jeff) on his permanent rotation.

Things also work out for our pair of makeup peddlers, when, during another meeting with Vanessa, Tina finally finds her voice, asserting exactly what she thinks of "Iluminage Cosmetics," and eventually busting them for unsafe products.

-I hope we see more of the divorced, depressed, and Happy Feet lovin Dave. I see serious potential for some very comedic interruptions to Mark and Emma's various trysts.

-Where was Zach Woods? With only 8 episodes a season, we need more of everybody's favorite sarcastic and strange brother.

-Did I detect a spark between Maggie and Dr. Erikson?

-No matter how much they bicker, Maggie and Emma continue to be a testament to the strength that is female friendship.

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