Mid season TV shows promise strong futures

Arts & Events

New to Comedy Central’s Wednesday night lineup is “Broad City,” the TV evolution of Illana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s popular web series. Produced by the legendary Amy Poehler, the show focuses on the New York City lives of Abbi Abrams (Jacobson) and Illana Wexler (Glazer), centering on their struggle to grow up and leave behind their college years. They are both stuck working dead-end jobs, one at a web-coupon company and the other cleaning toilets at an upscale health club.

The majority of the show centers on their attempts to do as little work as possible and to come up with grandiose plans to escape the monotony of their respective 9 to 5’s. The awkward and charming chemistry of Jacobson and Glazer is balanced by the addition of Lincoln (played by the ever hysterical Hannibal Buress—watch his standup!) whose timely one-liners function to break the tension of the uncomfortable situations from which the show draws its humor.

At first the show seemed like Comedy Central’s misguided effort to appeal to the female demographic that “Workaholics” ostensibly alienates with its largely male cast; I myself was worried that it would simply reproduce or repackage the same shtick for a pointedly female audience. But the show does not pander, nor does it pull punches.

Its humor is not gendered, it is age-based. Seven episodes in, I can say that its humor has proven universal. It speaks directly to those of us in and just out of college, to the struggle of trying to balance encroaching adulthood with the remnants of fleeting childhood.

“Broad City” is uncomfortable and awkward, at times it is even disgusting, but it captures the unpredictable spirit of early adulthood and presents it hilariously to audiences who can watch, laugh and sigh in relief that their own lives now seem relatively put together.

Katims has worked on, created and produced some of the most popular (and other less well-known) shows to have ever graced television airwaves. His filmography includes the cult-classics “My So Called Life” and “Roswell” and more recently and notably, the extraordinarily popular “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood.” All of these shows have been masterworks of storytelling, rife with full, complex characters whose lives intersect and collide in unpredictable, compelling and heartbreaking ways. Katims is, and always has been, an artist of television drama. But after watching his new series, “About a Boy,” it seems as though he’s also got a knack for comedy.

Airing Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC, the series is a fresh, funny and sweet adaptation of the 2002 film of the same name, which was itself an adaptation of Nick Hornby’s 1998 novel (Adapt-ception!). Whereas the novel and film were stylistically more dramatic, and seemingly right up Katims’ alley, he turned the story into a light-hearted comedy.

The show’s plot is similar to that of its two predecessors: Will (played by David Walton, “Perfect Couples,” “New Girl”) is a bachelor man-child living off the royalties of an ad jingle he wrote. His carefree lifestyle is challenged by the intrusion of new neighbors, single mother Fiona (Minnie Driver) and her son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham).

The show centers on the burgeoning relationship between Will and Marcus, who quickly realize each other’s value: Marcus helps Will pick up women, and in return Will fills in, becoming Marcus’s “adopted” father. So far the two have teamed up to save Marcus’s middle school talent show performance and crashed  Lil’ Jon’s pool party.

While the plots themselves have been mildly entertaining, the show’s appeal rests largely on the “odd couple” relationship dynamic between Walton and Stockham. They teach and challenge each other, they learn and grow to step outside of their comfort zones and help the other become a better person. But it is clearly Stockham who steals the show. He is the best child actor I have seen in years, and his sweet onscreen innocence alone makes the show worth watching. Only two episodes in, it is hard to tell how the series will evolve, but with Katims running the show, you can be sure that it will be worth your time to wait and see.

 

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