Series: The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
Things are going to get worse...The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
is a sitcom produced by IFC and RDF Television that airs on IFC in the US and on Channel 4
in Britain. The show stars David Cross
as Todd Margaret, a low-level employee who, due to a comedic misunderstanding, is selected by his jerk boss Brent Wilts to travel to London
to sell energy drinks. Although Todd claims to be familiar
with British culture, it soon becomes apparent that all he is familiar with are broad outdated stereotypes
. Needless to say, hilarity ensues
Todd’s only employee in London is Dave, a native Briton who quickly realizes that Todd has no idea about British culture or selling energy drinks and does all he can to take advantage of and embarrass Todd. Rounding out the main cast is Alice, a restaurant owner who dreams of being a molecular gastronomer, who Todd quickly falls for, much to her chagrin
This show provides examples of:
- Alien Lunch: Alice and La Molecule subscribe to a style of cuisine that is more chemistry than cooking. They concocts such bizarre foods as "oxtail toothpaste made with pancetta gas"
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The list of charges against Todd read out at the beginning of each episode are all pretty terrible, but the one from episode 5 invokes this trope:
Judge: The charges include: anti-social behaviour, disruption of national solemnity, money laundering, lewd sexist behaviour, failure to pay for a cranberry juice?!
- Asshole Victim: Brent is an asshole and suffers from episode 5 onwards.
- As Himself: It is eventually revealed that Dave's nervous valet, played by Jon Hamm, is actually the man himself, cowed into working for Dave through his money and influence.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Subverted by Dave, who recommends a clothing store to Todd for his date so he'll look like a "proper English gentleman". When Todd shows up for his date with Alice he tells her he purchased new clothing for the event, to which she responds, "Where, 1872?"
- Backhanded Compliment: How Alice thanks Todd for getting her a job at La Molecule.
Alice: She said that the man who recommended me wasn't her type. At first I thought it was a black-white thing, but then I realized it was a gorgeousness thing!
- Bad Liar: Most of Todd's increasingly poor decisions involve lying, which he's not very good at.
- Berserk Button: Steve Davis beats Todd with a pool queue because he couldn't pronounce "snooker" correctly.
- Big Bad Friend: Dave, who is secretly the mysterious "Mr. Mountford", orchestrated the entire series from the beginning as revenge for two minor slights against him by Brent Wilts and Todd Margaret.
- Black Comedy: The humor in this series is very dark and grows increasingly so.
- Breathless Non Sequitur: Every reading of the charges in the first season has one.
High Court Justice: The charges include child endangerment, embezzlement, persistent public urination...
- Bribe Backfire: In trying to procure a liquor license for Alice, Todd tries to introduce his friend "Mr. Benjamin" to a British official. Not understanding at first that in Britain the currency is pounds, he then tries to guess who is on British currency (including Winston Churchill, a bulldog, a lady drinking tea, and The Beatles). Finally examining the currency, he is unfamiliar with the official. "Adam Smith? How was I supposed to guess that?!"
- Bring My Brown Pants: Todd can't seem to go an episode without urinating or defecating his pants, either out of fear or due to an overdose of stimulants of some sort.
- British Accents: Todd claims to have spent summers in Leeds with his dad, yet cannot tell where Dave is from by his accent, or that there is even a difference in the different British accents. He also claims to have a slight Leeds accent of his own, but makes absolutely no effort to change his normal voice.
- British Brevity: Actually a British-American co-production but only 12 episodes long.
- Butt Monkey: Todd's life becomes increasingly worse because he messes things up.
- Canada, Eh?: Todd briefly lapses into this when Brent suggests that he should become Alice's "type" in order to impress her, proving that it's not just the British who he is insensitive toward.
- Character Death: In the finale, Alice is blown up by the Turks' truck thanks to Todd.
- The Chessmaster: Dave, so very much. He displays abilities at running a Batman Gambit that dips into Xanathos Speed Chess when Todd gets arrested and his game is at risk of ending prematurely.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Alice is a subdued version of this; she seems polite, down to Earth, and normal. Then see Alien Lunch.
- Cringe Comedy: Good lord. Most of the humor is based around awkward situations that Todd gets into through lying, which get worse as he tries to wiggle out of them.
- Critical Research Failure: An In-Universe example: the failure is not by the shows creators but by Todd Margaret himself. His vast ignorance of British culture is the main source of the show's comedy.
- Counterfeit Cash: Todd gets paid with a suitcase of cash, when he tries to pass one of the bills, the recipient refuses it, pointing out that there shouldn't be a "Y" in "Bank of England", and that the woman's face on the obverse is not Queen Elizabeth, but HelenMirren. It is also in a £30 denomination.
- Downer Ending: Everyone fails and/or dies.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Alice dies in an explosion at the end, as a final twist of the knife.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
- Todd Margaret flies halfway round the world to sell energy drinks without a second's consideration, and is on the defensive from the minute his plane lands in England.
- Dave tells Todd that snooker player Steve Davis is "bigger than Beckham." Beckham is 183cm tall, while Davis is 187cm.
- Fawlty Towers Plot: Todd's blatant and escalating lies drive most of the plot. Among other things he insists: his father died last week, he grew up in Leeds (a city he picked at random based on an an album cover), he is allergic to nuts (going so far as faking anaphalactic shock and taking unnecessary epinephrine shots), and he lives in the houses of Parliament (he claims it has apartments now).
- How We Got Here:
- Each episode of the first season opens with Todd restrained in front of a rowdy British Court being read a list of outrageous charges. This happens two weeks after Todd arrives in London, and the show chronicles how he got into that predicament.
- In the second season, each episode begins with Todd in North Korea, apparently about to push a nuclear button at gunpoint. This is only a handful of days after the court appearance.
- Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Todd is so sure that there's nothing important to know about British culture, even after repeated beatings, misunderstandings and criminal charges due to his ignorance.
- It Amused Me: Dave set up Todd and Brent for his own amusement.
- Jerkass: Todd's boss Brent Wilts. He can't seem to speak a sentence without throwing in a term like "numb nuts", "fucktard", or something similar. It's revealed gradually throughout that he used to be just as meek as Todd. Dave had been giving him self help CDs that taught him to act like a Jerkass.
- Lampshade Hanging: Doug Whitney: "How could Dave know that Brent Wilts would at that EXACT moment would walk past when Todd Margaret was listening to those self help CDs back in Portland?"
- Long Title: The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
- Mistaken for Racist: Dave convinces Todd to wear a T-shirt advocating the British National Party, a political party infamous for advocating racial purity. Todd, being an American, merely considers it an "I Love England T-shirt".
- Nuke 'em: Todd does this in the finale to the Turks.
- Only Sane Man: Alice, Doug, and Dave, who react to Todd's idiocy.
- Alice is the only one to figure out Dave's game.
- Playing Sick with an in-universe Plot Allergy: Todd escapes being seen at the bar by faking a nut allergy. Later, at Alice's, he begins eating a box of chocolate covered hazelnuts; in panic, Hudson sticks Todd with an epi-pen, *twice*, which actually triggers an allergic reaction.
- Sadist Show: It's like watching everyone you've ever hated distilled into one person ruining his life over and over again in funny ways.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Brent finally realizes how hopeless Todd's trial is, he leaves the courtroom, telling Todd to stall for time until he gets back. He then immediately proceeds to get on a plane back to America.
- Serial Escalation: You thought things were bad at the beginning?
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Alice dies suddenly, making the whole romantic subplot moot.
- Shout-Out: in one episode, Todd prays for guidance. His prayer begins with the words:
- Smug Smiler: Dave, who smiles smugly very often.
- Special Guest: A bit of Adam Westing by real-life pro snooker player Steve Davis. Davis both lampoons and subverts his reputation for being thin-lipped and boring.
- Suspect Is Hatless: Todd's description of Dave to the police.
- Too Dumb to Fool: The terrorists try to con Margaret into refusing an immediate payment on the energy drinks by implying that it would prevent the mother from buying her medication. Todd just stares blankly at them without any reaction, forcing them to try a second tact, which Todd is dumb enough to fall for.
- Unfortunate Names: Our titular character. A bartender bluntly tells him, "Margaret? That's a girl's name!"
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Todd occasionally comes off as a lovable loser, but it is hard to feel sorry for him most of the time. In any unexpected situation he finds himself in, his default response is to lie about it, and try to weave this new lie into his increasingly complex and imaginary "life story". His seemingly willful ignorance makes it worse.
- Very False Advertising: Todd's London apartment is much worse than advertised.