The Fun House is the eighteenth episode of season one.
Frankie fears for her job when a motivational consultant comes to get the sale team into shape. While Frankie is putting in many extra hours, Mike has to deal with the children and their issues, including making the house more fun for Axl and his friends, giving advice to Sue's ex-boyfriend and helping Brick with a school project.
Axl has been spending a lot of time across the street at a neighbor’s house. It makes sense, as the Donahue home has always been the “fun house” in Orson. Frankie doesn’t understand why Axl doesn’t want to hang at their place. After all, they have most of a Jenga set.
In an effort to make the Heck home the new fun house, Mike puts a pool table in the basement. The two older kids love the table and Brick loves the taste of the blue pool cue chalk. Soon kids from all over Orson are hanging out at the Heck house.
Mike’s the host with the most, always armed with an extra can of bean dip when supplies run out. But after one too many trips to the Frugal Hoosier, Mike realizes that the cost of keeping all the occupants of the fun house fed is pretty steep. Messy, too.
Brad is back! The parents of Sue’s overly-effeminate ex-boyfriend had sent him away to a special religious camp to cure him of his urges. His smoking urges, that is. Sue says they’re just friends, but it’s obvious she still likes him. Brad wants to have a chat with Mike about his confusion over some intense feelings he’s been having lately. Mike’s advice: Go with your gut. That leads to Brad asking out Sue’s best friend, Carly. Oops.
Brick has to interview his family for a school project. He asks his mom about the hopes and dreams she had when she was younger. Frankie recalls a time when she wanted to be a Golddigger. It’s the name of the fancy dancers featured on the old Dean Martin show. Of course, now she sells cars.
When a drunken woman stumbles into the dealership, Frankie doesn’t have the heart to sell a car to someone in such an intoxicated state. Turns out the woman is not really wasted. She’s actually a motivational consultant named Abby Michaels (guest star Amy Sedaris). Mr. Ehlert hired her to whip the staff into shape. Abby decides to focus her crazy ways on the company’s least successful salesperson. Any guesses who that might be?
Abby is super-critical of everything Frankie does. She says that someone at Ehlert Motors must lose their job by the end of the week. Don’t worry. It won’t be Frankie. That’s because Abby wants Frankie to show her what she’s made of. It’ll be up to her to decide who gets the boot. This is torture for Frankie. So when the clock runs out, she steps up to Abby and says, “Fire me.”
As it turns out, Abby wrote down the words “fire me” on a napkin because she knew that’s what Frankie would say. The charade about someone getting canned was a trick to show Frankie that she doesn’t know her own value. Abby encourages Frankie to empower herself. She’s a mom. She can do anything! With the right attitude, she can sell ten cars! Well, maybe ten’s a little high. But you get the idea.
Mike tries to make things right with Sue by telling Brad that she’s crushed he chose Carly. This has Sue furious at her dad. Brick is also on Mike’s case. He’s finished his school project and needs someone to check it. Mike can’t take it anymore. He dines on some pizza in the most relaxing place he can find: his car.
Someone really should have taken the time to read over Brick’s homework. Here’s his report word for word: “My mom wanted to be a gold digger. My dad didn’t think my brother was playing enough pool. The end.” If nothing else, the boy’s succinct. Brick’s story was so compelling; his classmates probably didn’t even notice the traces of blue chalk dust around his mouth.
Frankie tries to use the attitude trick she learned from Abby on a worn-down Mike. It doesn’t fly. He just wants to get back to work. But for now he’ll settle for reclaiming his house. Frankie has an idea. She leads Mike into the basement to hang with the kids. Mike pops in some 80’s music so he and Frankie can do a little dancing. Frankie’s plan worked. Nothing clears out a room of teens quicker than the sight of two parents gettin’ down to sounds of Wang Chug. “We were so in phase, in our dance hall days…”