‘1600 Penn’ explores the freedom to assembly as Skip joins the picket line

Skip, played by Josh Gad, joins White House protesters in the episode "Frosting/Nixon."

Skip, played by Josh Gad, joins White House protesters in the episode “Frosting/Nixon.”

Slowly but surely, we are all getting to know our favorite fictional White House family better and better.  The newest 1600 Penn episode, which aired last night, simultaneously made me laugh (as per usual) and say “awww!”

The episode begins as a group of protesters gripe in front of the White House with clever signage about President Gilchrist’s (Bill Pullman) transportation policies.  “We hate you, Mr. President” one of the signs reads to which Skip (Josh Gad) says to his father, “But…you’re awesome!” in complete disbelief.  Yes, Skip.  Bill Pullman is awesome.

Emily (Jenna Elfman), eager to transcend her “stepmom” role wants to help Xander (Benjamin Stockham) with his failing student body president campaign.  Oh Emily…maybe her efforts will finally pay off this time around!

Skip half-heartedly disguises himself among the protesters (“why did I wear a wig that looks like my normal hair?”), but only ends up getting roped into their side of the protest.  Those seven years of college haven’t made Skip any less impressionable.  Marshall (Andre Holland) tells Skip he better come inside before he makes a scene.  But Marshall, isn’t that what Skip’s best at? It’s the reason why we all love him.

Jenna Elfman as First Lady Emily Gilchrist in the episode "Frosting/Nixon."

Jenna Elfman as First Lady Emily Gilchrist in the episode “Frosting/Nixon.”

Emily meets with Xander’s teacher and discovers that she has been helping his opponent, Jessica, who is the girl whom Marigold  (Amara Miller) has a crush on.  Xander’s teacher is very vocal on her opinions of Dale Gilchrist.  None of them are very nice.  So of course she must jeopardize his son in his school campaign.  But Emily is not giving.  “You’ll either leave here as president or in a bodybag!”  Probably not the best thing to say to your eleven (or twelve?) year old stepson.  Nice work, Emily.  Lesson learned:  never piss off the First Lady.

Surprisingly, Dale is proud that Skip is finally taking an interest in his work.  Awww…isn’t that what Skip always wanted?  For his father to feel proud of him?

Meanwhile, Becca (Martha MacIsaac) attempts to contact friends and is dismayed at their interesting and successful lives.  “Why didn’t I make more loser friends?” she laments.  The cold realization is that if you don’t have any loser friends, you are that friend.  But we all know Becca’s not a loser.  Must be all those hormones.  As it turns out, Sandy, her secret service lady, has more problems than she does becoming a single mother at 22.

Back at the school, Emily has taken control of the War Room with Xander and his “X-Men”, but conflict abounds as Jessica strategically talks to a flustered Marigold.  In fact, it was a cute moment, except she was so flustered that she accidentally reveals Xander’s speech notes are inside his locker.

Skip rejoins to protest, but this time in full hippie form complete with a drum circle.  He also gets a chance to channel his inner Gandalf with the line, “You shall not pass!”

After Jessica steals Xander’s speech verbatim, he decides to give a speech to the student body anyway, and lo and behold, he wins them over.  With help from Marigold, of course.  Middle school kids will do anything for a soda machine.  I had some major feels at this part; it’s cute when Marigold and Xander help each other out.  And Xander calls Emily “mom”.  It looks like she accomplished what she set out to do after all!

The protestors and the President are able to see past their differences over hot chocolate, and Marigold even reveals Jessica to be the one who broke into Xander’s locker.  Happy endings for all.

As 1600 Penn is a relatively new show and still gathering a fan base, I hope that more people will discover this NBC gem.  In future episodes (and hopefully seasons), I would love to see more dynamics between all the kids as well as their growing relationship with Emily.  I’m already looking forward to see what sort of shenanigans will happen next week at the White House!

Leave a comment telling us your favorite part of last night’s episode.

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