Three new comedies debuted this year and two are already cancelled, Manhattan Love Story, A-Z, and Marry Me. I think Manhattan Love Story and A-Z didn’t connect with people for different reasons but these three, and current shows like New Girl, all have one thing in common that is becoming a bigger annoyance in comedies. The trend of adult characters having incredibly immature views and reactions to dating and romance.
Manhattan Love Story was the worst culprit because from its very first scene it pitted a douche bag boy against a clueless girl (use of children terms on purpose). It was the most like a romantic comedy film which is why it was the first cancelled. In a movie you only have to suffer with poor decisions, child-like behaviors, and hate/love back and forth for two hours. How a network show thought they could sustain that conceit with two miserable characters is beyond me. MLS would probably have been refreshing if they’d just switched the gender roles.
A to Z at least has likeable leads but the woman is no less cliched than MLS’s Dana. Zelda (Cristin Milioti) is the hard, cynical counter to Dana, because women only have two modes, clueless-optimist or no-nonsense workhorse. The real shame of A to Z is that the network couldn’t see the gem it had in the comedy gold of the workplace. Andrew (Ben Feldman) works for a online dating website called Wallflower. All the scenes involving his boss Lydia (Christina Kirk) are priceless.
All the Wallflower scenes a similar quirky feel of the great, cancelled to soon, Better Off Ted. As they started expanding those characters it felt like two separate shows. The Rom-Com dragging its heels because every episode was essentially the same story with them. Rarely did they interact with the coworkers and the B story that always stole the show and the laughs.
Marry Me is a bit better in that the main couple is actually moving forward after 6 years of dating and getting married (not saying you have to get married to be an adult but you should be in a mutually respected relationship and actually know stuff about each other). The leads of Marry Me are two amazing comedians, Casey Wilson and Ken Marino, which is probably the only reason it has yet to be cancelled. But it falls into the same issues, what couple has been dating for 6 years and barely know each other’s families, act as if they first started dating, freak out about things that should have been resolved in the first couple years.
The weak point in all these shows are the friends. They have no idea how to give advice, manage their own love lives or even seem to function. They aren’t given their own lives or any backstories. These shows are treated like ensemble shows but that’s hard to truly accomplish when you don’t care about 80% of the cast.
Talking about who has the power in the relationship is something teenagers worry about not 30 somethings. Dating isn’t anyone’s entire life but these shows make it the main focus. Even on Friends the will-they-won’t-they wasn’t the entire show. It was an aspect of their lives. The networks need to learn to balance the love lives, work lives and friendships of the characters in their comedies. Because everyone knows that comedy in real life comes from trying to balance all of those things.
You can catch the last couple episodes of A to Z Thursdays at 9:30pm on NBC.
Marry Me airs Tuesdays at 9pm on NBC.
Have you seen any of these shows? What did you think?