Features

Black Monday Concludes June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson's Lady Business Far Too Soon

Some viewers may be heartbroken by the brevity of their collaboration.
  • June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson in Black Monday. (Showtime)
    June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson in Black Monday. (Showtime)

    WARNING: Spoilers for last night's episode of Black Monday ("Lucky Shoes") ahead.

    When Black Monday returned to Showtime back in March, my colleague Joe Reid commented on the web of connections among the on and offscreen talent in the show's first season. As Season 2 has progressed, that web has only grown more complex: joining real-life husband and wife David Caspe (who co-created the show) and Casey Wilson (who plays Tiff Pfaff) are Tuc Watkins, real-life long-term partner to Andrew Rannells (who plays Tiff's husband, Blair); and June Diane Raphael, both real-life wife to Paul Scheer (who plays disgraced trader Keith) and real-life writing partner to Wilson. Watkins and Raphael play Roger and Corky Harris, a closeted Republican Congressman who falls in love with Blair; and Roger's wife, scion of a Christian broadcasting empire. Despite how much Corky and Tiff have in common, it wasn't until three episodes after Corky's introduction that the producers finally maneuvered her into a scene with Tiff. Obviously, their chemistry was undeniable... which is why some viewers may be heartbroken to learn how quickly they part ways again.

    Corky and Tiff both arrived at their meeting in last week's midseason premiere with their self-confidence diminished. Corky, who has long since accepted her husband's heterosexual infidelities, recently walked in on Roger and Blair in a tender moment. While a lifetime of church lessons in women's subjugation led her to keep this information to herself, that doesn't mean she's accepted it. Tiff's had more time to get used to her loveless marriage, but when her attempts to launch a new denim brand fail, she finds herself in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. (Blair: "I don't know if you're going to make it into your 130s, baber.") When the Pfaffs meet the Harrises at the TBD Group's Halloween party, Blair and Roger are both eager to step away to get some "business" done, and Tiff and Corky are both disgusted by their low-effort double-entendres.

    Once their husbands leave, though, Tiff is excited at the idea of making a friend. Corky doesn't drink (Tiff: "Do you like to watch?"), but they soon bond over a common interest in drugs; Tiff quickly identifies each loose pill in Corky's pouch except the giraffe laxative. (Tiff: "For your figure?" Corky: "Y'ever seen a fat giraffe?")

    Here we have two daughters of privilege, both lonely, bonded in their shared experience of marriage to closeted men. As the night winds down and they're both high as hell, Corky pulls herself up from the floor where she's been lying and exposes her scandalous underpinnings to Tiff.

    What Tiff has been trying to market as "skants" are already wildly popular among evangelicals as an under-skirt layer known as "pirts": "The comfort of pants with none of the harlotry." When she hears that Tiff has a pallet of skants she hasn't been able to unload, Corky muses that "business" isn't just for men anymore: she and Tiff could do "lady business"! Tiff readily leans in for a kiss, but Corky means actual business. Would I have been just as happy for Tiff and Corky to have ended up girlfriends? Sure. But anything that kept these characters in each other's orbits is fine with me.

    Cut to the cold open of this week's episode, "Lucky Shoes." Tiff is live in a studio at HGTV, Corky's father's evangelical network, selling skants — "made by moms, for moms" — to a fundamentalist Christian customer base as the secret solution to painful thigh chafing on long walks to church: "Finally, you can be an independent, modern woman and no one will have to know!" When Corky comes out to join in the shill, it's clear that both actors' knowledge of the physical vocabulary of home shopping is bone-deep, so effortless do they make it look.

    The transcendent, crystalline perfection of Wilson and Raphael playing off each other in front of a crowd — even a crowd of extras — is so satisfying that what comes next is all the more horrifying: a pregnant audience member's questions about Tiff's children (what else could "by moms, for moms" mean?) throws her off her game, causing her to make up Bible verses (and books) and curse on camera. Georgina's expansion into the Christian market is not, alas, ordained.

    By the end of "Lucky Shoes," a lot has changed for both the would-be skants moguls. Having apparently given up on a fashion career, at least for the time being, Tiff has been contemplating the idea of motherhood. But Blair arranges for a trial run — having Tiff babysit the pre-adolescent children of a guest at Roger's election-night party — which ends in the hellions destroying the penthouse; her night with "Junior, Eric, and Ivanka" convinces Tiff never to have kids. While Tiff has been trying to keep Junior from maliciously smashing her candy bowls, Blair has been celebrating Roger's narrow election victory by demanding a timeline on his bank bailout. When Roger balks, Blair tries to extort him with their sex tape. Roger, suddenly committed to his constituents, refuses. Blair then turns the tape over to Roger's father-in-law, Pastor Newell, so that he'll work his political angles on a bailout... but the Pastor leaks it to the press instead, and when Blair races to Roger's apartment to explain that he didn't do it, he finds that Roger has died by suicide.

    Black Monday has never shied away from painful subject matter — a man died in a fall on a stretch Lamborghini in the series premiere — but Roger's death is one of its darkest moments yet. It's reasonable to guess that Corky's judgmental friends may abandon her now that she's been widowed by a man who wasn't straight. And given that Tiff knows Blair was implicated in Roger's exposure, maybe she'll feel she shares in his guilt and will want to try to make it up to Corky in her bereavement. Could there still be a chance that Corky and Tiff might pencil some kind of lady business in their calendars again before the season is over? Another run at skants, cobb salad with a side of giraffe laxatives — I'm not picky. And after the tragic end of Corky's marriage and Tiff's forced evening with the three worst Trump children, they both deserve a real friend.

    People are talking about Black Monday in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Writer, editor, and snack enthusiast Tara Ariano is the co-founder of Television Without Pity and Fametracker (RIP). She co-hosts the podcasts Extra Hot Great and Again With This (a compulsively detailed episode-by-episode breakdown of Beverly Hills, 90210), and has contributed to New York, the New York Times magazine, Vulture, Decider, Salon, and Slate, among many others. She lives in Austin.

    TOPICS: Black Monday, Showtime, Andrew Rannells, Casey Wilson, David Caspe, June Diane Raphael, Paul Scheer, Tuc Watkins