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Series / Playing House

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Playing House is a comedy series airing on USA Network, co-created by and starring Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham.

When Maggie discovers that her husband is cheating on her just as she's about to give birth to their child, she leaves him. Meanwhile, her best friend Emma has just left her job overseas and needs a place to crash. In order to have help in raising her child, Maggie offers to let Emma live at her house.


This series contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Tina's maiden name is Steigerman, and in "Ride the Dragon", she claims that her grandmother fled Nazi Germany. While the story later turns out to be made up, the fact that her friends all believed it up until that point suggests that she might be Jewish, or at least have Jewish ancestry.
  • Amicable Exes:
    • Upon her return to Pinebrook, one of Emma's first challenges is navigating her relationship with her ex-boyfriend Mark, who's since become a cop. They end up dating again in the third season.
    • Meanwhile, Maggie is driven to try and maintain some semblance of a friendship with ex-husband Bruce so that their daughter will grow up knowing both of her parents. This becomes awkward after Bruce starts dating Maggie's self-defense instructor.
  • Bad Date: In "Game of Tweens", Maggie's first date with Dr. Ericson goes disastrously because they have an argument the day before.
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  • Camp Gay: Maggie's coworker Jeff is very flamboyant.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Averted in the third season when Emma gets breast cancer.
  • Doctor Jerk: In the third season, Maggie gets a new boss, Dr. Ericson. His bedside manner is such that he's been nicknamed "Dr. Popsicle", because he's cold and has a stick up his ass. It later turns out that he is aware of his reputation and actually has a good sense of humor about all the nicknames, but he likes to maintain his reputation to keep the nurses on their toes.
  • Double Date: In "Reverse the Curse", Maggie and Emma go on a double date with Clive and Mark. Or try to, anyway.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: In "Ride the Dragon", Zach makes up a batch of marijuana-laced baklava for Emma to ameliorate her nausea from her chemotherapy. Unfortunately, she decides to share the baklava with all her friends, causing everyone to get stoned. Hilarity Ensues.
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  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: In "None of Your Business", Tina tries to go into business selling makeup. Unfortunately, her supplier is very obviously part of a pyramid scheme, and she ends up in over her head.
  • Hereditary Curse: In "Reverse the Curse", Emma becomes convinced that because she just beat cancer, she's due for a shit-ton of bad luck, because her family is supposedly cursed to suffer a misfortune whenever things are going well.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Emma and Maggie have been friends since they were children, and are so close that they are basically raising Maggie's daughter together.
  • Magical Queer: In "Reverse the Curse", Emma and Maggie somehow end up in the care of a troupe of drag queens who offer them advice.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Paging Doctor Yes Please" is a mostly lighthearted episode in which Emma schemes to get Maggie and Dr. Ericson together, and then her plans result in her receiving a breast exam... at which point she learns that she has breast cancer.
  • My Beloved Smother: Emma's mom has interfered with her life for years, even going so far as to sabotage her relationship with Mark.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: "Cookie Jar" offers a humorous example, as Emma frets about what Mark will think about her body now that she's over 40.
  • Pair the Spares: In "Ride the Dragon", Zach and Tina fall for each other while they're both stoned.
  • Ponzi: In "None of Your Business", Emma finds out that Tina's been suckered into a pyramid scheme involving selling overpriced makeup and tries to help her get out, but Emma ends up getting pulled into the scheme herself. Fortunately for both of them, Vanessa, the woman at the top of the pyramid, gets busted when her makeup causes an allergic reaction in Maggie.
  • Product Placement: This being a series on USA Network, there is some not-so-subtle product placement for a car - in this case the Toyota Rav 4.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In "Ride the Dragon", Tina tells a very moving story about how her grandmother fled from Nazi Germany with only a supply of fudge and the recipe for making it, and then, while her friends are all captivated, she suddenly bursts out laughing; she made the whole thing up.
  • Shipper on Deck: In "Paging Doctor Yes Please", Emma notices that Maggie seems to be attracted to Dr. Ericson and hatches a scheme to bring them together.
  • Skinship Grope: In "Ride the Dragon", Emma and Cookie feel each other's breasts in order to compare their mastectomies.
  • Take a Third Option: In "None of Your Business", Tina gets stuck in over her head in a pyramid scheme that involves selling overpriced makeup, and has the option of either trying futilely to sell thousands of boxes of makeup in a few days or paying thousands of dollars to Vanessa. Tina comes up with a third option: Call in an anonymous tip about the makeup causing allergic reactions, resulting in the makeup being recalled.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In "Ride the Dragon", Cookie gives Emma a pep talk about surviving her cancer.