As a 34-year-old single entertainment writer who’s in denial about the fact that it’s probably time for her to sit down and think, for the duration of a commercial break at least, about whether she’d like a shot at having children, I should be Accidentally on Purpose‘s target audience. Watching the series debut last night on CBS, I just kept thinking I could’ve liked it had it been a Lifetime movie à la Flirting with Forty. We would’ve gotten rid of the laugh track, which thought the jokes were waaaay funnier than they actually were.
Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) stars as Billie, a 37-year-old film critic for a San Francisco newspaper who broke up with her boss/non-committal boyfriend James (old Melrose Place‘s Grant Show) a month ago when he failed to propose atop the Eiffel Tower. One night, while out with her hard-partying best friend/colleague Olivia (Ugly Betty‘s Ashley Jensen) and her married younger sister Abby (Lennon Parham), she meets a younger man, Zack (Jon Foster). After determining that a one-night stand with blandly charming Zack would be empowering as opposed to desperate because he’s over 18, she goes home with him. The experience, she says, was “Like eating candy…Young candy. I’m not kiddin’, he smelled like a Skittle. Ladies, I feel like I tasted the rainbow.” (Okay, I laughed at that.) They have sex again, and bam!, we flash forward five weeks to a home pregnancy test. Billie realizes the fact that she had a condom in her purse but didn’t use it might mean that she could have caught an STD she subconsciously wanted to get pregnant (hence the title, accidentally on purpose). She tells Zack she’s fine raising the child alone, but because his father abandoned him, he wants to have a role in his kid’s life. Since the struggling chef is in between crash pads, Billie offers to let him move in with her — only they’ll be roommates, not lovers.
That is actually a decent set-up for a sitcom: Like with Who’s the Boss?, you get live-in sexual tension. Just think about all the times they’ll comfort each other after a bad day or date, all the meals he’ll make to satisfy her late-night (or breakfast) cravings, all the times he and his fellow man-child “buds” will do something stupid, then something sweet to make up for it, and all the times she’ll say “I love you” in a breezy way but wonder if she really means it. Maybe the show, based on Mary F. Pols’ best-selling memoir, will get more subtle, but I fear poor Ashley Jensen, who’s so wonderful and deadpan on Extras and Ugly Betty, will always be asked to do a little too much wocka wocka and that Elfman will always be as large and bubbly as her hair. I’m also not convinced that Jon Foster (who I sort of wish was Bryan Greenberg, for which I apologize because I’m guessing he hears that often) will be 50-50 partners with Elfman. He’ll need to be an equal for the show to work.
What did you think of Accidentally on Purpose? Will you be watching again?
Photo credit: Robert Voets/CBS