Second Look: Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place Season 1, Episode 10 – “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery”

Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery

Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place Season 1, Episode 10 – “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery”
Written by Kenny Schwartz
Directed by Brian K. Roberts
Aired May 20, 1998 on ABC

As Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place begins to settle into its own identity, one thing is clear: while the series is still calibrating what makes Michael Bergen tick, it already has an incredibly tight grasp on the man that is Pete Dunville – a mix of neuroses, indecisiveness, and a somewhat endearing impulsive side. Without that consistency of character, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery” would be an almost unwatchable cringe fest of two less-than-lovable dumbasses fighting over a woman neither of them deserve – instead, it’s one of the more promising episodes of the season, able to nimbly take an inherently nihilistic premise, and inject it with a little bit of personality and pathos. All this, from an episode with a surprisingly understated Carmen Electra guest spot – which, for those who weren’t there, was a rite of passage for any 90s and 00s film or TV show looking to get a few extra eyeballs.

“Two Guys, a Girl and Pizza Delivery” surprisingly begins with another post-breakup return of Melissa – though at least this time, they write into the episode that they’re an on-again, off-again couple. Regardless, when the two head out to a performance at her elementary school, Berg is finally able to answer a mystery that’s (apparently) been dogging him for awhile: who Pete is delivering to at 845 Arlington, an address he gets incredibly defense of delivering to once he hears the address.

Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery

Turns out, it’s an artist named Isabella (Electra), who loves pizza and seemingly talks to Pete a lot about her painting technique – and once Berg discovers this, he obviously becomes smitten with her. An elegant premise, it is not; but as a simple narrative device to test its burgeoning episodic formula, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery” is surprisingly effective, in spite of some of its weightless material.

(It’s also one of the rare times Pete and Berg would find themselves fighting or ‘competing’ over the same woman, which is somewhat refreshing considering the era the series released in, and how much of any material about people under 30 was about sexual competition.)

There are a few elements in its favor; a bit more Sharon involved in the proceedings goes a long way (she has an actual, coherent C-story, trying to get the attention of Great Eyes guy outside her building), and the dialogue, from a script credited to series co-creator Kenny Schwartz, is so much punchier; this is not the petulant Berg of “Two Guys, a Girl and a Recovery”, nor the boring, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Celtics Game” version of Pete, and it makes for a more well-paced, comedically engaging episode – and one, dare I say, with one of the best resolutions the first season has to offer.

Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery

Of course, any enjoyment of the episode has to be couched in a bit of reality; this is a wholly ridiculous episode, one where the majority of it revolves around Pete and Berg fighting over a woman that hasn’t expressly shown interest in either of them – at its heart, this is just two young dudes swinging dicks at each other – but Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place does a good job resisting some of the more rancid narrative opportunities its premise offered, and mostly uses its time to solidify some of the series’ foundational elements.

It may be the most narratively balanced episode of the series since “The Pilot”; though we’re still waiting for a real Sharon plot, this episode at least foregrounds her dating pursuits a bit – and also remembers that the pizzeria is in the title of the series, acting as the catalyst for the conflict between Berg and Pete – which, mostly just turns out to be a character study of Pete, and one that paints a surprisingly nuanced picture for what is ostensibly a “hangout” sitcom.

Pete’s reaction to Berg’s desired pursuit of Isabella reinforces the fact Pete is not committed to Sharon; she floats in and out of the episode, happy as a clam with her boyfriend and the life they’re living together. But as Sharon notes, they continue to be an on-again, off-again couple (continuity acknowledgement! We did it, everyone!), and as long as he’s with her and refusing to look in the mirror, he’s going to be exactly where he is, trying to run away from his girlfriend for a few minutes of scintillating interaction with a stranger… who, it turns out, already has a boyfriend, and was genuinely thought she was spurring an artistic interest within Pete (or so we can only imagine).

Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery

The ending’s twist, rendering all of their silly masculine conflicts completely pointless, is a great one – and comes after Pete decides to do the right thing and stop being a total shithead, an unexpected resolution this episode’s premise never suggested was possible. It’s not particularly enlightening, of course, but as a simple premise, executed to explore the dichotomous personalities of its leads, the amusing choices of “Pizza Delivery” and its third act are an encouraging sign the series is finding its footing.

Of course, some of what is established in this episode would change over time – Melissa’s time in the series is short, and Berg’s comment about never intending to have a serious relationship chief among them – but for the moment, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Delivery” is the most authentic version of the series since its opening episode, and the first time in a few episodes it really feels like a series building momentum.

Grade: B-

Other thoughts/observations:

  • This episode begins to answer the question of why Berg isn’t attracted to Sharon: “You don’t count – because you transcend sex.”
  • Berg, after learning how Isabella paints: “I used to be quite the finger painter myself.”
  • Apparently they established a tribunal during their college years, where Sharon gets to wear a judge’s robe and settle conflicts among the group with her binding decisions.
  • “That’s advanced gymnastics… any girl with that kind of discipline? Pfft – totally wrong for me.”
  • We learn an important bit about Bauer; he is living out the movies and television shows he sees on his TV back at home – now that he has ESPN Classic (which was new at the time; that’s how old we are), he thinks he’s the Green Bay Packers of the 1960s.
  • Sharon: “Just because Pete brings her pizza doesn’t mean he’s delivering the sausage.” Pete:”I never want to forget you said that.”
  • Ryan Reynolds does a decent Christopher Walken, it turns out!
  • Melissa is both a character too good for Pete, and too sweet for this series.
  • Up next: Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place tells its origin story in “Two Guys, a Girl and How They Met”.

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