Footnotes to ‘Bored to Death’: Season 3, Episode 4

Although we enjoy Bored to Death’s hilarious story lines and overarching themes, we get at least as much pleasure out of its details — the literary references, the in-jokes, the real, New York City locations. So, this season, we’re publishing a weekly series of Bored to Death footnotes. Follow along with us after the jump as we go minute by minute through episode four, shouting out places we recognize and explaining some of the show’s oddball allusions. Feel free to point out anything we may have missed in the comments.


Georgia O’Keeffe, Blue Flower, 1918

2:59 — Ray explains his latest, Spencer’s-lesbian-mom-inspired cartoon villain, The Emasculator: “She looks like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, except when you punch her, she gives you a urinary tract infection.” A Freudian would have a field day with this description, translating “punch” to “fuck,” which does, in fact, make the statement more plausible in the non-superhero realm. Fun fact: We know we don’t have to spell out the “Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers looks like vaginas” thing for this literate, Bored to Death-watching crowd, but did you know that scientists earlier this year found that fertile women find her “anatomical flower paintings” sexier?

4:30 — “In a minute, this place will have a case of delirium tremens,” Jonathan tells Emily, referring to the moment every hour when the striking clock outside his window shakes his entire apartment. In addition to being a highly potent beer, delirium tremens is a fairly rare medical condition most often caused by alcohol withdrawal. According to the National Library of Medicine, symptoms include body tremors, changes in mental function (confusion, agitation), seizures, and other effects common to alcohol withdrawal (anxiety, depression, nausea, fatigue). That does not sound like something we bear 24 times a day.

7:28 — George and Bernard are talking musical theater: “You know, I was a T.S. Eliot fan. I have to say, I did love Cats when it first came out.” Those who aren’t aware of the connection might assume that this was one of George’s typical non sequiturs. Not so! Cats is, in fact, based on feline fan Eliot’s poetry collection, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

8:31 — Oliver Platt returns as George’s nemesis, GQ editor Richard Antrem — and he’s got a Waverly Inn ripoff restaurant of his very own, Richard & Sons. The name is probably a play on Tom Colicchio’s Colicchio & Sons, although while the celebrity chef really does have three male offspring, Richard is childless.

9:28 — Freshly exiled from home, Ray finds himself at Williamsburg Italian standby Bamonte’s. One of the city’s oldest restaurants, it’s been operating since 1900 and, as New York magazine notes, predated every one of New York’s pizza joints.

9:31 — Bamonte’s history makes it an excellent place to pick up an elderly cougar, so it makes sense that Ray meets Olympia Dukakis there. Isn’t she looking lovely, especially for a woman who turned 80 a few months ago?

16:20 — “As someone with borderline personality disorder, I’m like a human polygraph,” Jonathan’s imitator tells him. In fact, the DSM-IV TR (the psychiatric profession’s most current manual for diagnosis) lists BPD symptoms including extreme efforts to avoid abandonment, unstable personal relationships, identity disturbance, impulsive behavior, recurrent suicidal behavior, affective instability, chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate anger, and various short-lived dissociative episodes. This suggests that while the fake Jonathan Ames may have an incredibly sensitive lie-detecting mechanism, his judgments may also be somewhat unreliable. Of course, in this case, he’s right on.