Friday, October 7, 2011

Grace Grades New Fall Shows: Comedy Edition

My overall thoughts on this season's fall comedy line up?  There are shows that are off to a great start and in which I see great story potential. Others...not so much. The ladies are doing it this season. There are several female-centered and female-executive-produced comedies on the air that are putting up good numbers. This cause for excitement because the world of comedy writing has always been dominated by men. Female-centered shows= more jobs for female writers. On the other hand, since I am also a person of color my excitement can only be half-hearted. Most of these shows feature very few people of color on screen.  However, I'll get on my diversity soapbox in another post.

There are several comedies that are coming up that I'm interested in. Shows like Last Man Standing, Man Up!, and I Hate My Teenage daughter have not yet premiered. Stay tuned for my reviews on those:)

Here are my thoughts on the first of this season's new fall comedies.
The New Girl (Fox)                                               
Grace's Grade: C+
This was the first comedy to get picked up for the entire season. Yay for that cast and crew! However, I am not really feeling this show. Zooey Deschanel plays Jess, an awkward schoolteacher who walks in on her boyfriend sleeping with another girl and ends up moving in with three kind of douchey guys. Jess is a quirky, cutesy hipster that sort of bops around making weird noises and faces like she has mild form of Tourettes. It all seems kind of forced. Some people will find her doe-eyed, weirdness endearing. I find it annoying. There are some funny moments, but not enough to keep me watching. The secondary characters are unremarkable. Her guy roommates are interchangeable and her model best friend has no discernible personality. It could get better, I suppose. They've got a whole season.  

Up All Night (NBC)
Grace's Grade: B

This show has a great cast and thus lots of potential. Christina Applegate plays Reagan, a former party girl and current working mom. Will Arnett plays Chris, her stay-at-home-dad hubby. Maya Rudolph is Ava, Reagan's diva boss who hosts an Oprah-style talk show. The show centers around Reagan and Chris's struggles with new parenthood while trying to please demanding and intrusive Ava. The writing is good, but has not risen to the awesomeness of the cast yet. Comedy genius Will Arnett should be given so much more! However, I am rooting for the show and hope it hits its stride. I'm also appreciative this show has a diverse(ish) cast and doesn't rely on minority stereotypes for laughs. The challenge is to keep it accessible to us childless viewers out there.

2 Broke Girls (CBS)
Grace's Grade: B-

This is...cute. Beth Behrs plays Caroline, who lost everything when her dad was convicted of a Bernie Madoff-style crime. Broke and disgraced, Caroline gets a job at a grimy diner where she meets Max played by Kat Dennings. Max is a smart-ass, working-class waitress who takes Caroline in and teaches her the art of being broke. This is a classic odd couple set up and it works for the most part. Secondary characters like Peach, Max's socialite boss, and the creepy line cook Oleg (Jonathan Kite) are both specific and funny. The downside? The Asian boss is at the diner is a pretty blatant Asian stereotype. He speaks broken English and is named Bryce Lee. It feels like we are laughing at him not with him.  Another tragedy is that the brilliant actor Garrett Morris is underused and is regulated to occasional one-liners. Hopefully this will change.

Suburgatory (ABC)
Grace's Grade: B-

Jane Levy plays Tessa, whose single dad (Jeremy Sisto) moves her from New York City to the suburbs because he finds condoms in her room. Because, I guess, suburban girls don't have sex? The show is very stylized and feels similar to Desperate Housewives with saturated colors, suburban stereotypes, and over-the-top characters. However, Desperate Housewives is more a drama/comedy hybrid. Thus, its campiness is balanced with darker moments that deal with difficult relationships, murder, and dirty secrets. Since Subugatory is a straight-up comedy, there is no darkness to tamp down the campiness. Thus, it remains to be seen if the show will be too cutesy in the long run. Also, how long can they milk the New Yorker-in-the-burbs jokes? Another tension will have to emerge for this show to have staying power.  And I guess, according to Hollywood, people of color don't live in the suburbs.The only person of color in the pilot was the "diversity student." New flash: Middle-class minorities do live in the burbs.

Did you see any of these shows? What did you think?

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