'Funny Woman' Recap: Episode 6
February 11, 2024
Everything is perfect! Clive and Barbara are engaged, the team is all reunited for a final episode of “Jim and Barbara” that they hope will net them another season, and Ted Sargent is on board – as long as Clive and Barbara stay chaste and good in the public eye. Sure, Dennis and Edith are getting divorced, and Bill and Tony had to basically drag Dennis back to the show he had quit, but Barbara’s career is once again skyrocketing. She has been photographed by the hip Terry Clarke with Clive and is invited to the photographer’s A-list exhibition.
Barbara does sense something odd about when she hears that her agent Brian has recently met with Clive. Brian waves it away, but Patsy thinks it’s wrong that Barbara doesn’t know Clive was essentially blackmailed into proposing. Irked by Brian’s misogynistic dismissal of her, Patsy sends tickets to Barbara’s mother for the final taping of “Jim and Barbara.”
When Barbara asks Dennis about the divorce, he tells her that Edith wants to divorce him for adultery – even though she’s the one having an affair. She wants Dennis to have one, too, so that she has grounds and can save face as a woman in a business inhospitable to women.
Diane tells Barbara and Marge that she has her own minor flirtation with the host of her news show. She has been unexpectedly given the night off, and watches the show with her friends. She’s upset to see the notoriously racist politician Enoch Powell on the show – and to see the host let him off easy.
The next day, she learns from the host that Powell insisted Diane, as a Black woman, not be present when the interview took place. TV executives okayed the plan, and the host let it happen, even if he didn’t agree with it. So Diane castigates him on air and walks off the set, in a show of defiance that Barbara admires.
Barbara is starting to feel that she should show some more defiance. She has realized that she loves her job, not its perks: the sort of partying, name-dropping celebrity life that gets Clive and her invited to Keith Richards’ country house. When she sees the photos of her at Terry Clarke’s exhibition, she doesn’t like how serious she appears – that’s not the real her. She also cringes from Clarke’s blatant offer to sleep with her and all the gossiping attention directed at her.
Right before they tape their last show, Clive reveals to Barbara that Dennis had also traveled to Blackpool to see her, but the “best man” won.
The final show is a role reversal in which Jim cooks and cleans while Barbara acts like a layabout man – but it’s all a dream, of a world in which women could do anything men could. Ted Sargent likes the writing for Barbara; Bill and Tony tell him Barbara came up with most of her lines. She improvises again in front of the live audience while the tapes are being checked, making a speech about how she wishes women were allowed to do anything men do. At least now she’s making jokes for a living. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, she says.
She receives a standing ovation. She then brings out Tony, Bill, and Dennis to take a bow. Clive notices that Barbara and Dennis hold hands a bit longer than expected.
Barbara has spotted her mother in the audience, but speaks to her only after everyone else has left. Barbara is angry at her mother for hurting her and her father by walking out. She learns that the married man for whom her mother left never ended his marriage. And her mother tells her that she tried to contact Barbara but never heard back. Barbara isn’t buying it, and walks out. The lights turn off on her mother.
At the party celebrating the taping, Tony reveals to Bill that he and his wife are having a kid – his experimentation on her behest seems to have helped their relationship. Tony has already glimpsed part of a novel that Bill is writing about homosexuality, and found it excellent – if risky. Brian gives his card to the costumer, telling her she could be the next Sophie Straw – she’s already been with Clive, after all.
Clive is in a less celebratory mood – he ducks out quickly and finds Dennis outside smoking. He tells Dennis to back off; Barbara has made her choice. Dennis responds that she didn’t know there was a choice.
Barbara, too, is not feeling the party. She swears at Ted and tells him the times are changing when he tries to criticize her impromptu speech, then fires Brian when he warns her not to get on Ted’s bad side. She, too, leaves and stops to talk to Dennis. She faces him and starts to say something, then rushes off into a cab, saying she’s drunk.
She finds Clive at home, shiftily trying to hide something in the bedroom. It’s a suitcase. He has been offered a lead role in Hollywood, and leaves tomorrow. He’s expecting Barbara to go with him, but she doesn’t want to – and is upset he didn’t tell her. He tells her that she’s amazing and unique, and that if he stays he’ll just be a bit player in the Sophie Straw show. She kisses him, takes off her engagement ring, and leaves.
She debriefs her dad on her final show over the phone, explaining that there was an unexpected visitor. But before telling him who, she asks if her mother ever tried to contact her. He is shocked and asks why. She uses the excuse of Marge returning home to hang up quickly.
Marge comforts Barbara as she faces a world turned upside down, where she suddenly doesn’t have a job, an agent, or a fiancé. Marge tells her that, if her mother hadn’t left, she wouldn’t have the rage and drive that got her a TV role, so she owes her mother both everything and nothing. And now she has a new chapter ahead of her. Her future is in her own hands.
Barbara marches off to the TV studio to see Ted Sargent.
Tony and Bill are furious at Clive for decamping to America and not even telling them to their faces. The show can’t go on without its male lead. But Dennis has a plan: he has been in talks with a rival TV station. He calls to tell Barbara but learns from Marge that she has gone to see Ted. He rushes off to the station.
Ted has learned that Dennis and the writers are signing contracts with his rival, and is desperate to retain Barbara. He tells her he’ll find her a new Jim; she suggests that her next show be “Just Barbara.”
As she leaves the station, she nearly runs into Dennis. She tells him she has a show for them; she just signed a contract. He tells her he has done the same.
She asks him what he would have said to her with his flowers in Blackpool. He responds, “I love you.” They kiss.