It’s tough to be a new TV comedy. Deep down, jaded viewers are expecting you to not be funny, so if they actually laugh, they can’t trust themselves. They give tempered reviews like, “Lord help me, but I laughed,” so if others didn’t, they’ve at least taken the first jab at themselves which should lessen other’s blows.
Well, I thought Undateable was kinda funny. (So Lord help me.)
Inspired by the book Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t Be Dating or Having Sex, the show comes from Bill Lawrence (co-creator of Cougar Town and Scrubs) and Adam Sztykiel (co-writer of the films Due Date and Made of Honor). Whitney’s Chris D’Elia stars as Danny, the 29-year-old manchild who uses the word “buried” when he means to say all his friends are “married.” He gets a new roommate, Justin (comedian Brent Morin), and tries to become a love guru to him and his gameless buddies, who hang out at Justin’s unpopular bar. Even though Justin has the hots for his barmaid – and a chance to hook up with Danny’s divorced older sister Leslie (Rules of Engagement’s Bianca Kajlich) – you get the feeling that the real love story here will be one of male bonding. D’Elia and Morin have the chemistry for it, and they’re both likable: D’Elia makes douchery like his “You think I came out of my mom’s womb just crushing ass?” line charming (it was the turning and miming giving his mother the peace sign). Ditto Morin when Justin’s overanalyzing things like the dream scenario in which he’d profess his feelings to his crush (it should be fall, when his wardrobe is the strongest).
As for the entourage, the friend who can’t speak to girls, Shelly (comic Ron Funches), is a little too Big Bang Theory, as is Burski (comic Rick Glassman), whose lack of tact gets him trouble. But Brett (David Fynn), the bartender who just came out as gay, feels like a fresh character. I liked that he was just another wannabe player for Danny to coach. It reminds me of something Josh Thomas, creator of Pivot’s excellent comedy Please Like Me, said about his premiere episode in which his character comes out to friends who barely skip a beat: “I think a lot of coming-out stories in shows are quite traumatic, which is fine. For a lot of people it is a really big deal. There’s still kids getting kicked out of their home for being gay. To me, it just wasn’t a big deal.” That doesn’t mean Brett won’t struggle with insecurities and fears, just that presumably, his friends not accepting him won’t be one of them.
Will I give this a season pass though? I’m not ready to make that commitment. But I can see it being a Super Fun Night situation, where I’ll decide to check in again on demand and then end up marathoning it because it goes down easy.*
*And also because I really like D’Elia in that bathrobe (was there any mention of what Danny does for a living?) and because Morin has a genuinely great singing voice. But why was he singing the wrong words to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”? It’s not “Don’t you love me baby…” it’s “When the working day is done.”