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'Man Seeking Woman': The agony and ecstasy of a first date

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Traib” | Aired Jan 21, 2015

I can’t say Man Seeking Woman has developed a pattern, because we’re only on the second episode. Alas, “Traib” mimics the pilot episode in that it is generally divided into three major bits. Fortunately, some of it was great, but other parts were really struggling.

The Great

As we saw last episode, Josh got Lauren’s number on the train. Now it’s time to text her to ask her out. Why not agonize over what to say? To solve the problem, Josh, Mike, and Josh’s cousin Liz visit the “Center for Important Emergencies,” a high-tech room with charts, graphs, computers, and military and science personnel. Most notably is Michael Hogan, well-known for playing the crusty Colonel Tigh on Battlestar Galactica. Here, he is out-Tighing himself by screaming and downing hard liquor.

The rest of the team strategize the text. Mike, always subtle, suggests a dick pic and a “guess who?” Josh, always the sane one, just wants to say, “Hi, it’s Josh from the train, Wanna get dinner?”—which is ludicrous to the team. The strategists agonize over the emoticons he should use as well as the number of exclamation points. When Josh finally does text her, they wait somberly for the reply, as if they have just launched nuclear missiles. This scene works because everyone commits to being over the top and the scene is largely improvised. It’s as good as the best SNL skit. It’s chaotic and hilarious; more of this, please!

Man Seeking Woman

The Questionable

Now that he’s asked out Vanessa, Josh claims he’s over his ex Christine. Yet the things she left in her apartment keep haunting him, like her almond milk and her razor. These objects literally start to haunt Josh, so much so that Mike needs to call in an exorcist. Here, again, we fall into the trap of one joke being beaten to death. Especially when a plush heart Christine once gave Josh turns evil and attacks Josh. Obviously, it’s just Jay Baruchel holding it to his face and screaming, which ironically may make it amusing.

The Unfortunate

Josh has an awkward date with Vanessa, as it happens in life, and returns home dejected. From the advice of sex-obsessed Mike, he prepped his apartment in the hopes that he would bring Lauren there for sex. His strategy includes rose petals on the bed, a mix tape, balloons released from the ceiling, and the one bit that made me guffaw out loud: strategically placing a copy of Infinite Jest next to his bed. Well played, Simon Rich.

In this heightened fantasy, Josh has also hired a string quartet to serenade Vanessa. The violin player comforts him, but then asks if he can use Josh’s bathroom. Thus the show ends on about five minutes of hearing this man moan about his explosive diarrhea. Is this the best that can be done? Did the writers run out of pages and just decide that poop jokes make everything better?

Bathroom humor is rarely funny; it’s lazy and caters to the lowest common denominator. And when a network show does it, I feel cheated by its professional writers. It’s a real shame the show ended on this note, as the war-room scenario was quite good.

Josh, in the little we’ve seen of him, has a good heart, respects women, and is really looking for someone to care about and start a relationship. He’s got really sweet intentions.

I can see how it makes sense, from a writer’s perspective, to create a best friend of the opposite ilk: sex-obsessed, crude, and someone who is only interested in having sex. But with these two, it’s hard to even believe that they would be friends. Josh seems to be constantly annoyed with Mike’s crudeness, and Mike is constantly annoyed with Josh’s lack of interest in one-night stands. It’s a dynamic that possibly sets up their friendships always being at odds.

Man Seeking Woman

I think about recent shows that have well-written male friendships, like Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother, and even It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which all portray friends having fun together. Sure, one of the group may be more of a ladies’ man and one more introverted, but they are friends because they found common ground. I am not even sure why Josh would even want to be around Mike—and vice versa.

In a show where razors come to life and trolls exist, why would I find fault in the realness of a friendship? It’s because no matter how many gimmicks there are, a show is about people and relationships. Both of Man Seeking Woman‘s first two episodes have spent more time on the fantasy sequences to the detriment of building any real character or plot development.

Again, we’re only two episodes in, and all of this could change direction and focus. We’ll just have to keep watching. I haven’t given up yet.

Man Seeking Woman airs Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30C on FXX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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