'Vice Principals' - Season 2 Episode 6 "The Most Popular Boy" Recap

Last week I noted that it would be difficult for Lee Russell to hit a lower point than when he was humiliated in front of the entire faculty by his own wife. This week’s episode of Vice Principals, “The Most Popular Boy”, shows that there is most definitely a deeper rock bottom.

The main focus of this episode is Neal Gamby’s attempt at becoming “the most popular boy in school.” He’s been making in-roads with the teachers by being not-Russell, and his first invitation to payday drinks is his chance to truly cement his cool status amongst the school staff. With a wardrobe assist from Abbott, Gamby is going into the teacher hangout overly confident. He’s not too far gone to stretch out a helping hand and invite old buddy Russell, who in a moment of vulnerability admits to Gamby that he’s jealous he’s not invited. 

See, Lee Russell is going through a tough time. After last week’s complete and total meltdown of Christine, Russell is doing everything he can to save his marriage. They’ve been going to therapy and implementing their learnings by doing “trust checks”. Russell even offers to cook dinner for Christine as a date. Things actually seem to be going well at first. By actually being nice (cooking dinner, showing Christine and her mother respect), Russell might be able to save his marriage. Unfortunately, Christine discovers the empty remnants of take-out containers in the trash can, proving Russell didn’t actually cook the dinner. Caught in a lie and confronted, Russell resorts to more lies to try and save face. It only pushes Christine further away. Feeling alone, Russell needs that payday drinks invite from Gamby as a shot of positivity into his increasingly negative life.

Things are once again going deceivingly well at the payday drinks event. Russell is having a great time while Gamby continues to bond with the teachers. Even Abbott revealing to the entire staff that she and Gamby are dating doesn’t seem to rattle Neal too much. Having gained the full trust of the teachers, it’s revealed to Gamby that the standardized test to be taken by students the next day hadn't been correctly taught by the teachers. The idea being that when the test scores come back universally negative, the school board would have no other choice than to fire Lee Russell. It’s real season one Gamby+Russell type stuff. The only teacher not involved in this plan is Amanda Snodgrass, who echoes Gamby’s concerns over this coup. All Gamby can do in the moment is look on as Russell performs enthusiastic karaoke tunes, oblivious that he’s performing in front of a crowd of vultures.

The night gets worse for Russell when Gamby and Abbott drop him off at his completely empty house. Christine has cleared out everything and left nothing but a single note. As Russell reads it, it’s easy to feel sorry for this man as his entire life is falling apart around him. And then he starts speaking, wondering what did he ever possibly do to deserve this. Then you remember we’re watching a man who has done much worse for much less, and he totally deserves anything he’s got coming for him.

Luckily for Russell, he does have one true friend in the form of Neal Gamby. Gamby and Russell, with help from Snodgrass and Nash, race to completely redo all of the failing tests by closing time. When the team pulls off this miraculous feet, their celebrations are truly joyous and feel like a step forward for everyone. Gabby doesn’t need the respect and adulation of the entire school. He just has to be himself and be content with the true friends he finds around him. Russell doesn’t need to be constantly scheming and looking for new ways to assert his dominance. He can accept help and treat his friends as his equals.

This hopeful step forward for Vice Principals’ two leads is also hopefully a step forward for the show itself. There’s only three episodes left, and if redemption is in the cards, the road needs to start here.

Great stuff all around. What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!