Jennifer Garner’s Kathryn McSorley-Jodell is a human clipboard, an obsessive organizer, a control freak whose desire to bend everyone to her will makes her not much fun at parties. Or anywhere, actually.
HBO’s Camping, Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham’s adaptation of the British comedy of the same name, has viewers tag along on Kathryn’s meticulously planned outdoor excursion to celebrate husband the 45th birthday of her husband Walt (Doctor Who‘s David Tennant). Walt seems genial enough, the kind of guy who lets himself go along with whatever the missus desires, and their son Ollie is pretty much a non-entity in Episode 1.
Most of the show’s jokes are rooted in the clash between Kathryn and, well, pretty much everyone else. Soon after her arrival at the campground, Kathryn can’t believe that the laid-back Harry (Inside Amy Schumer‘s Bridget Everett) is in charge: Kathryn chirps “Party of nine, eight adults, one kid, four nights at the Groupon rate!” as though she is reciting an incantation to banish the devil himself.
Soon, the trip’s other guests start to dribble in, themselves a grab-bag of quirks and problems. There’s Kathryn’s sister Carleen (Say Anything‘s Ione Skye) and her antisocial boyfriend Joe (This Is Us‘ Chris Sullivan); Walt’s overly affectionate pal George (Stranger Things‘ Brett Gelman) and his lady Nina-Joy (Love‘s Janicza Bravo), who’s got beef with Kathryn; and their newly separated friend Miguel (Fear the Walking Dead‘s Arturo Del Puerto), who shows up in the middle of the night with his free-spirit new girlfriend Jandice (Secrets and Lies‘ Juliette Lewis) and winds up getting shot when Kathryn thinks he’s a bear and takes aim with a BB gun.
The episode ends as the group goes out on a planned bird-watching excursion that turns into a skinny-dipping session when Jandice strips down and runs into a nearby pond. Despite Kathryn’s protests, she’s eventually the only member of the party left on dry land. “Guys,” she laments, “swimming is tomorrow!”
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