The second episode of Neighbors With Benefits (“Not Hiding Anymore”) aired tonight, and I’m proud to say I made it through the entire hour without burying my head in my couch cushions or burying my face in a gallon of ice cream. I only had to watch one makeout scene (and there wasn’t as much slurping as last week’s makeout scene), so I’m a happy camper. (That last sentence is one I never thought I’d be typing for work.)
In this episode, we meet Ben & Dedra, a couple who’s been together since high school. They had a very strict Catholic upbringing, and met at a youth group retreat. They waited over 2 years to have sex, and Ben lost his virginity to Dedra. (Dedra was a little more adventurous than Ben, and experimented with her bisexuality in college.) At some point they decided their sex life was boring, so Ben got the couple started in the lifestyle. At some point, he met Tony at a lifestyle event, and the two became best friends. A year later, Ben & Dedra moved into the neighborhood. They hang out with Tony & Diana (the swingleaders, as I have named them) often, and much of the episode centers around the couples’ relationships with each other.
Tony & Diana need to push the envelope, and shake things up, to keep their relationship from getting stale. Tony normally takes the lead on setting things up with other couples, but wants Diana to start being more aggressive and take initiative. He wants to get jealous; that turns him on. Diana says she’s not dominant, but will take on that role to turn Tony on.
Tony & Diana meet Ben & Dedra out at a sushi hibachi restaurant. The couples have never hooked up before because of Tony and Ben’s close friendship, but Diana says she’s going to take on that more aggressive role with Ben, and she certainly does. She feeds Ben (ugh) and flirts with him, and asks him and Diana what they’re doing after dinner. The couples leave together and as soon as they get to the parking lot, Diana and Ben start making out. Like, hardcore making out – the kind of kissing where you uncomfortably watch and wonder, “Is one of them going to swallow the other’s tongue?” Dedra looks maybe a little surprised by this occurrence, but also kind of happy. Tony, on the other hand, looks absolutely shocked, and not happy at all. “I guess THAT’S starting,” he says to Dedra. And then, he and Dedra predictably start swapping spit themselves. The couples leave for a hotel (or is it a motel? Holiday Inn?) and as we watch a car pull away, we hear a weird version of “O.P.P” played by someone other than Naughty By Nature. (Side note: Those guys are still around! Who knew? They played in Milwaukee at the Bucks game on Saturday.)
Mercifully (thank you, A&E), we don’t see any of what happens between the couples at the hotel room they rent. What we do see is Tony & Diana driving home 4 hours later, and Tony is not happy. Diana doesn’t understand; she feels like she did something wrong, but she did just what he wanted by being more aggressive. He tells her that indeed, she did what he asked and didn’t screw anything up, but then goes on to imply that er, maybe she did screw something up. He’s worried about the friendship that they have with Ben & Dedra (or maybe just worried about his friendship with Ben). They fight a bit, and then talk about how they’re going to go home and have really good sex, because he hates her a little right now. Mercifully (again, thanks A&E) we never hear more about whether they do go home and have really good angry-hate-sex. (Again, another sentence I never imagined typing for work.)
A good portion of the episode also focuses on Lori & Eric, and specifically on how swinging has affected not only Lori’s work life, but also her relationship with her mother. We start out by meeting Crystal, who is one of Lori’s strictly monogamous friends. Lori is doing Crystal’s hair, and they discuss how the owners of the cosmetology school where Lori is an instructor found out about Lori & Eric’s lifestyle. Although Lori has remained professional and has not brought her lifestyle into her classroom, the owners don’t think that she should mentor students any longer.
Lori’s mom has friends that go to the school to get their hair done, and she knows it’s only a matter of time before they find out about her lifestyle and tell her mom, as someone leaked the details of her swinging to everyone at that school. Lori is very close with her mom, talks to her 5 or 6 times a day, and texts her constantly. (And yet, somehow, she thinks her mom doesn’t know about her lifestyle.) Ultimately, Lori does end up quitting her job, and while she’s worried about not having a paycheck and possibly not being able to find another job, there’s more of a concern about her mom finding out.
Eric drives Lori over to her mom’s house, and we don’t see her mom, but we do hear the audio from their conversation. She confesses that she and Eric are swingers, and her mom is like, WELL DUH. Actually, what her mom says is “I figured as much,” and tells Lori that she and her dad put two and two together. She’s so disappointed in her daughter and remarks that she didn’t raise her this way. She tells her that this is adultery, and that Satan spells sin “f-u-n.” Lori tries to justify her actions by telling her mom she and Eric don’t even have full sex with other couples (remember from last week that they’re a soft swap couple), but her mom’s not hearing it. She tells Lori her friends are not her true friends, and she’d like her to get new friends. She also tells Lori that Lori knows in her heart that her actions are wrong, and points out that if she didn’t know that it was wrong, she wouldn’t be so concerned about what her mom thinks.
Lori says that telling her mom was one of the hardest things to do, and that she doesn’t know if their relationship will ever be the same; however, she definitely feels a weight has been lifted off her shoulders. She echoes this sentiment later that evening at a dinner she and Eric have with Tony & Diana and Ben & Dedra. She tells the group all about what happened, and says that though her mom says these people aren’t her true friends, she really feels that they are. (She also tells the camera in a private confessional that this won’t make her leave the lifestyle; she and Eric won’t leave the lifestyle until they decide together to stop swinging.) At this party, Ben talks about how this lifestyle isn’t about sex (whaaaa?) but rather about trust and honesty between people.
Speaking of Ben, when he and Dedra show up to this party, Tony says to Ben, “Last time I saw you, you were naked.” After dinner, the two best friends go off to have some sort of bro talk, and discuss how their interlude was fun, but “a little awkward.” They decide they shouldn’t become one of those sets of couples that hooks up all the time; in fact, they shouldn’t hook up again. They seem to be on great terms after their talk, which is mildly disappointing to me, because they’re both drinking wine while they have their discussion and a little (okay, a big) part of me wants to watch one man throw red wine in the other’s face. Sadly for me, nobody is drenched in wine. It’s all very tame. A little too tame, if you ask me, but remember, this is reality TV and it’s not staged (hahahahaha, okay) so we can’t expect any sort of acting here (HAHAHAHAHA) and wine-throwing would certainly be acting.
Two other things happen during the course of the show that don’t get a ton of attention, but no doubt are there to plant a seed in our minds for future episodes.
The first is a discussion with Susan, a monogamous (or, as Diana says, vanilla) neighbor, about how the other neighbors and the moms at the school feel about Tony & Diana’s lifestyle. Everyone knows, and the other moms keep their distance from her. Diana doesn’t think this will affect her kids now, but may in the future. She breaks down a bit in her confessional, and tearfully tells the camera that the hardest part of her lifestyle is dealing with her 3 kids (who supposedly don’t know about the lifestyle), but she’s not going to stop swinging, because she doesn’t want to teach the kids to just blend in not be who they are. Tony also tells the camera he doesn’t think that the lifestyle will affect the kids, at least until adolescence. (Okay, Tony. Good luck with that. Let me know how that all goes.)
The second small subplot involves Brittany. I just … I just can’t like her. At all. She’s a bad egg. Does anyone else get that impression? I know that many people think all of the lifestylers on this show are bad eggs, but I think she’s the baddest egg of all the eggs. Brittany & Cody separated because of the whole texting fiasco where she developed feelings for another guy (covered in the first episode of the show). But now they’re back together and she says they’re taking a break from the lifestyle. And then she says they’re not totally out of it. She tells Diana that Cody doesn’t trust her at all anymore. She wants to prove that they can still maintain friendships with people in the lifestyle without actually participating (yet its clear that she fully wants to continue participating). She and Diana talk about how she doesn’t want life to be boring; once you’re in the lifestyle it’s hard to leave. Ugh. She’s just the baddest egg there is, and I just know she’s going to hurt Cody.
Maybe we’ll find out in episode three, next week at 10/9c on A&E.