Gallery Girls, Episode Five: Deep Thoughts With Angela Pham

See Gallery Girls Episodes One, Two, and Three.

First, an apology: Labor Day travel delays prevented us from reviewing last week's episode of Gallery Girls. We received emails from readers begging us to review the show, because if we didn't do it, they might have to actually watch the thing. Alas, it was too late. Blame the failing airline industry.

Thankfully, last night's episode gave us plenty of material to make up for it: Angela's long-awaited solo photography exhibit; dirty, ugly, commercial art taking over End of Century (with masks and play-acting!); and so, so much time spent with Maggie and her awesomely crooked expressions. Let's do this.

Previously: Maggie's unhappy at Eli's gallery. End of Century's making no money. Liz and Amy finally had it out over an awkward brunch. Angela's photo show is giving her all kinds of grief, which she's helpfully passing along to her friends.

Toaster filter into Angela's apartment. Her venue friend calls her on her smashed-up iPhone to let her know he found a venue for her show. It's a shoe store. Somehow, Angela is excited about this. The shoe store also demands the show be held that same week, and Angela begrudgingly accepts. Desperation, thy name is Angela.

The other Brooklyn witches have problems of their own. EOC is still making no money, so Chantal decides to have a meeting with a "more commercial" artist who calls himself The Sucklord. Oh, this will be fun. Chantal is late to the meeting, probably because she was busy doing yoga and drinking French press coffee, so Claudia's left to deal with The Sucklord, who is this squirrelly little dude with molest-y facial hair showing off altered action figures and special edition toilet paper called Asswipe.

Remember the empty wooden frames and cloud paintings hanging in EOC earlier this season? This is like taking a negative image of that stuff, then melting it onto the face of a Transformers action figure. So, uh, not the aesthetic Claudia wants to see at EOC. She's trying so hard to control her face and it is not working. When she tries to explain her vision for EOC, Sucklord says, "It's chick flick stuff." "Yeah," Claudia says, "we listen to Joni Mitchell all day and cry, and then we try to sell some art." Zing! I like this new Claudia.

Weirdly, I'm also coming around on The Sucklord. He's basically the real life art world version of Mad Men's Michael Ginsberg -- you know, the new, super-intense copywriter with no social skills whatsoever but who's also maybe a genius? Except I'm not sure The Sucklord is a genius. In any case, there's a real antagonistic Peggy Olson/Michael Ginsberg dynamic between Mr. Suck and Claudia until Chantal shows up and basically books the guy herself.

Back in Poshville, Maggie's mom calls her on her cracked-up iPhone. Are destroyed iPhones a badge of honor in New York? All these girls have 'em. Maggie says she's bringing her boyfriend Ryan home to hang out with the family.

Amy, on the other hand, has her family come to New York instead for a dinner party. She invited Liz, even after their strangely calm "this is why I dislike you" discussion last week, because "I'm trying to be the bigger person," Amy says. This is code for "the producers made me do it," or perhaps, "I am so very, very lonely inside." Both Chantal and Claudia cancel on the party due to "illness," which seems to confirm my "so lonely" theory. But Kerri, Maggie, and Angela show up, along with Ryan and his bro crew. Angela makes a point of reminding everyone that she came all the way from Williamsburg, because she's such a great friend to leave her home in The Hippest Place In The World just for this pedestrian soiree.

All the girls are awed/instantly jealous of Amy's enormous apartment, which, Maggie points out, is decorated for old people. She's not kidding; my in-laws have those exact same curtains. (Sorry, in-laws!) Angela points out that Amy's apartment is "large, expensive, and gaudy -- just like Amy," and just for a moment, I kind of love Angela.

Maybe that party went longer than expected, because Amy's late for work the next day. Sharon gives her a stern talking to in a very soothing voice, and I'm pretty sure this is the producers setting her up to get canned.

Next, Angela prints her photos for the show, talks a lot about solitude and moroseness and pops of color, and I'm already too bored to finish this sentence.

Maggie and Ryan go to Easton, PA, to hang out with Maggie's family. Maggie's mom is, well, intense. She passes around photos of Maggie taken "before she got pretty" and tells Maggie that Ryan loved her mother before he loved Maggie. Then she starts in on Maggie's job, and makes some good points about knowing your worth that go totally undetected by Maggie, probably because wow, Mom, take it down a notch. Then she invites Maggie to come live at home -- "Why can't they just stay little forever, and be with their mommy forever?" -- and all of Gallery Girls-watching America yells, "RUN!"

Maggie does drop one priceless bit of knowledge during her stay at home, though: Her dream job is QVC host. You guys. Picture it. Maggie, with her monotone, nasally voice talking about jewelry or home storage or whatever, doing her twisty mouth thing whenever she has to hawk something she doesn't like. I would buy things just to keep her on the air.

Back at EOC, we get another discussion between the owners about how they store owes more than it's making. (Producers: They are broke. We get it.) In the middle of this, The Sucklord shows up and grandly announces, "Hey. I'm here with the shit." Oh, the glamour of art!

Then Sir Suckerton pitches an idea: A bit of performance art during the gallery opening riffing on the Occupy movement. Claudia hates the idea, but she also never stands up to anyone, ever, for any reason, even if it means the demise of her store and her life, so the show will go on.

The terrifying spectre of living a cleaner version of Grey Gardens in Easton has inspired Maggie to interview at other galleries. Asked by one gallery owner who her favorite artist is, Maggie answers, "Banksy." I did not see that coming. Then the owner shows her an art piece that is clearly a vagina, and explains that it is a vagina. Maggie does not see a vagina. But y'know who did see a vagina? Chantal's boyfriend Spencer's boss, because Chantal accidentally ("accidentally") showed him a picture of it, which she took after a bikini wax to send to her boyfriend for some gross reason. KIDS THESE DAYS.

Back at EOC, the show is on, and oh my god you guys, The Sucklord's minions are all wearing Transformers-style masks. A group of them carries cardboard signs into EOC and start a fake rally. A fake cop is spraying them with what I think is supposed to be mace, but actually just looks like a squirt bottle like you'd use to punish a small dog. Edgy political commentary: You're doing it wrong.

Then The Sucklord announces, "Okay, we've been a little selfish, so you can stay." Hooray, cry the 99 percent! This was the lamest performance art ever. Sucklord's got the Ginsberg smarm and the Ginsberg intensity, but not so much the Ginsberg genius.

Still, once it's all over, the girls of EOC loosen up and get down with the "nerdy improv kids." They also appear to make a shitload of cash.

Across town, Amy and Kerri have lunch, and Amy delegates some of her intern duties to Kerri. Amy says this shows she's taking initiative. I'm pretty sure shirking your responsibilities is actually the opposite of taking initiative, but whatever. Kerri is not impressed. Later, Kerri rats Amy out to Sharon, who is so not happy about having to deal with these immature antics. "This is why I'm glad I'm not 20 anymore," Sharon says. Amen, sistah.

Finally, Angela's chance to be an "it girl," aka a "fame whore," arrives. Her photography is hung by hand and looks kind of uneven and unprofessional, but the people at her show seem to dig it. The title of her show is "Totally Not Depressed," which is also the name of her blog, which, of course it is. But then things get really meta: "Totally not depressed," Angela describes. "You know, making our lives seem much more interesting than they actually are, and it's all just a mask." Holy shit. Is Angela treating this entire season of Gallery Girls as one big performance art piece? Does Angela Pham really even exist, or is she a character designed to skewer our culture's obsession with celebrity and fashion and trendy cocktails and DSLR cameras? Have we all been played?

There's no way to know for sure. But Angela ("Angela"?) says she didn't make any money from the opening, so I'm guessing she'll be sticking around while we figure it out.

And that's the end. But before we finish up here, a quick note to the producers: Guys. Come on. The only time we see hometown hero Liz during this whole episode is for about 20 seconds at Angela's art opening. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. Try and pull it together for next week, mmmkay?

Next: Art Basel! Sharon fires Amy, maybe! Chantal and Claudia bicker! Liz gets a bikini wax ... on film? Okay then! (We'll take any Liz we can get.)

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