The eagerly anticipated Season 2 of Playing House is almost over on USA, can you believe it? One of the best things about Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham's family sitcom is its marathon-ability. Re-watching the series on USA is not only hilarious and delightful, but you pick up on all of the Playing House callbacks.
Over the show's two seasons, the series has amassed many running jokes and callbacks to previous episodes and future characters. You've seen details like this before on other shows like The Simpsons, with the townies of Stars Hollow on Gilmore Girls, and recently in Pawnee on Parks and Recreation. It's all part of the world building that makes the fictional town of Pinebrook even more fun to visit each week.
Some of the in-jokes on Playing House are meta, like Zach telling his poetry reading "Characters Welcome," which is USA's tagline. They are also often character details, like Emma's insistence that Mark isn't really doing his job, the many nicknames they give Baby Charlotte, or Maggie and Emma's fascination with Tina's home improvements. The show also makes general pop culture references, from Silence of The Lambs to the movie trailers for Gone Girl and Magic Mike XXL. However, in celebration of the Season 2 finale, here are some of the best callbacks from Playing House that make the show so great.
1. The "Lingo"
The language of Playing House is a callback in itself, with all of these classic phrases making comeback after comeback:
- Absolutes Magoots
- Totes Kewl
- (Body) Be Bangin'
2. Rabbi Dan
In Season 1, Episode 5, Mark says that he's "going to have to call Rabbi Dan" if Maggie, Emma, and the rest of the drumline don't get out of the pool at the Jewish community center. Later on, not only do we meet him but he's a love interest for Emma.
3. Maggie's Delivery Guy
In Season 1, Maggie mentions that Rod "can rock a brown short" and tells her all about the inside of Bird Bones' house. Emma tells her to stop hanging out with her delivery man. Sure enough, their relationship is explored when we meet him in Season 2, played by Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock!
4. Maple Syrup
We may not have visited Lake Kimmewah until Season 2, but it (and the sweet sweet maple syrup found there) was first mentioned in "Totes Kewl" back in Season 1, when Emma's mother gives her a bottle of syrup, and it is revealed that Maggie and Gwen have been having a secret friendship that includes trips to the cabin.
5. Body Roll
Maggie loves a body roll. She worked them into her choreo for spaghetti night in Season 1, rocked them on the dance floor on multiple occasions during Season 2, and delivered this sick burn (pictured above) to her twin nemeses before the Kimmewah Cup.
6. Mr. Najiani
This is an early example from the pilot. Emma points this man out without naming him on Main Street, and he's made several appearances since. We've also seen many of the Pinebrook policemen on multiple occasions.
7. Pen Names
Speaking of Emma's mother, another one of the show's great running jokes is the different pen names that she gives herself that are actually other real names. In Season 1 she called herself Phylicia Rashad and in Season 2 had switched it up to "Nell Carter."
8. Candy's Voice
Maggie and Emma often talk about how Candy the waitress as Rosie's has the voice of an angel. In an episode of Season 1, Maggie suggests that she audition for Hairspray at the local community theatre — which is a bit of a metajoke as well because the actress, Marissa Jaret Winkour, won a Tony Award for playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray on Broadway. In Season 2, we learn that Candy always wanted to be on Broadway, but hates New York and is fine singing birthday songs in Pinebrook.
9. Mark & Tina's Robes
In the brunch episode, Maggie and Emma tried on Mark and Tina's embroidered bathrobes. They make a reappearance after Maggie gives birth.
10. "Celebrate Me Home"
The Kenny Loggins song appears in the pilot, the episode where Maggie gives birth, and the upcoming Season 2 finale — which is titled "Celebrate Me Scones."