Katy Keene Shows Us What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

Katy Keene - a lovely young white brunette woman - stands before a nondescript apartment building in New York City. She sports a retro-style red top and a black blazer with pink hearts as she looks pensively off into the distance.

In this week’s Katy Keene, “What Becomes of  the Broken Hearted,” good intentions backfire big time on almost everyone, and Bernadette Peters shows up to be fabulous.

Katy Keene
“Chapter Three: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”

Harry Jierjian (director), Shauna McGarry (writer)
Lucy Hale, Ashleigh Murray, Camille Hyde, Jonny Beauchamp, Julia Chan, Lucien Laviscount, Zane Holtz, Katherine LaNasa (cast); Bernadette Peters (guest star)
Based on Archie Comics
February 20, 2020

Valentine’s Day comes to the world of Katy Keene a full week late, but as always romance is still thick in the air. K.O. and Katy deal awkwardly with the ramifications of their botched engagement and K.O.’s moving into the now very crowded apartment Katy shares with Josie and Jorge. Katy’s response to the awkwardness of life is to desperately plan the best Valentine’s Day ever — to better regain her and K.O.’s status as “the perfect couple.”

Unfortunately, perfection is far out of reach for Katy and K.O, leading to a genuinely moving scene as, according to Katy’s own monologuing, love exercises its power to break her heart. K.O. is having problems integrating into the culture at his girlfriend’s apartment, and his earnest attempts at helpfulness result in disaster — he preheats the oven for dinner and accidentally barbecues Jorge’s wigs (because they use the oven for storage) and Jorge resultantly hurts his hands trying to rescue them as they go up in flames. “Do I have to say goodbye to my career as a hand model?” quoth Jorge. Worse, Jorge warns Katy that his parents will be less than pleased with them adding K.O. to the household under their radar, but Katy says she’s only keeping her boyfriend at the apartment “until she figures things out.”

On the work front, Katy is stuck participating in Lacy’s Night of a Hundred Hearts party, which she was hoping to skip so she could attend K.O.’s match, but Gloria puts a firm kibosh on that. By the time Gloria relents and gives Katy the night off, Katy realizes it would be better for her dream career to attend; a designer she desperately admires will be there. But she feels desperately guilty about missing the fight; when she tries to buy K.O. a punching bag as consolation, Josie wisely points out that she’s making major relationship concessions by pasting over things with smiles and bandaids — a prophecy that comes to life when K.O. awkwardly shows up post-fight at the party and bleeds on an expensive dress that she then has to fix. The resulting denouement between the two is authentically painful, and well-played by both Lucy Hale and Zane Holtz.

But Josie is one to talk about honesty in this episode. She and Alex are still hot and heavy — occasionally directly in Pops’ showroom — and Alex even seems to be making Valentine’s Day plans for them. Josie, however, is not in the mood for romance — she’s trying to keep it casual while juggling both a business and a sexual relationship with Alex. Miscommunication rears its ugly head and puts everything at angles. When singer Jimmy Dodger shows up at Pops’ and starts putting the musical moves on Josie, he and Josie click, and soon friction between Alex, Jimmy, and Josie sets in.Ginger Lopez - a drag performer wearing a reddish-brown fright wig and broad makeup - peers over the shoulder of her friend Katy Keene - a young brunette woman wearing a heart-spattered pink blouse with dramatic puff sleeves at Josie McCoy, an african-american woman with a red curls wearing an animal print top. All three are in a bar and the mood lighting is purple.

I liked Josie’s chemistry with Jimmy better than what she has with Alex, so I was kind of disappointed that a plot twist I will not reveal eventually occurred. An additional note — it was nice to see a more human, more sibling-ish Cabot twins in this one — they finally hang out in a manner that doesn’t involve double-dealing, though sure enough Alex and Alexandra end up in conflict, making life difficult for Josie.

Jorge, meanwhile, bears this week’s thinnest plot. He has had a closeted boyfriend, Buzz, for a full year. Just when it seems that hot and heavy will finally turn into strong and steady, Buzz can’t bring himself to interact with Jorge’s queer world, and ultimately breaks Jorge’s heart — but Jorge has already found a possible rebound in the shape of a hunky fireman who’d arrived earlier to treat his wig burns. It’s hard to invest when Jorge’s heartbreak lasts for a grand total of one scene before he stiff-upper-lips his way to the next hunky guy.

And finally, Pepper is sleeping in her warehouse while shopping around for construction people — but nothing comes cheap, and she needs $20,000 pronto to at minimum get the place’s heat turned on. In desperation, she turns to Miss Freesia (Bernadette Peters, being iconic), an old mentor of hers. Miss Freesia did not teach Pepper the ropes of gossip or hobnobbing, but how to grift older, richer men via gifts returned for hard cash.

Of our four plots here, I’m still most involved in Katy and K.O.’s heartbreaker of a relationship. Katy’s work life felt less compelling this time, and once again, while Laviscount and Murray have lots of chemistry, I’m not quite convinced about Alex and Josie’s ultimate viability yet. Pepper’s new plot is properly amusing and I found myself rooting for her for the first time, though her tendency to karma Houdini herself through life is a little annoying.  And poor Jorge’s heartbreak is compelling, but relationships of the week are hard to invest in.

Leave it to Katy Keene to take advantage of the most romantic holiday in the universe to enrobe itself in pinks and reds. The tone of the episode is warmer visually, and the lighting felt improved.

Both heartbreaking and funny even with a couple of weak subplots, Katy compels.