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'Man Seeking Woman' fan react: Third time is barely charm

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Pitbull” | Aired Jan 28, 2015

Man Seeking Woman now has three episodes under its belt, and while not representing a run of an entire show, three episodes is enough for the viewer and armchair critic to identify the story and tone of a show.

What three episodes have told me is that this show hasn’t made a strong decision about what it wants to be about. On the one hand, the show could be seen as a series of sketches employing magical realism that are loosely tied together by using the same characters, with no emotional investment.

On the other hand—and, quite frankly, a better choice—would be a show that follows its underdog-in-love protagonist Josh as he looks for love, using the metaphorical devices to add charm and relatability. Josh is not so much a character we can connect to, but more a device to merely set up the loose sketch ideas that make up the show. His whole personality is set up as someone who is quirky and charming, but all we know about him is that he is “bad” at picking up women.

Honestly, in this day and age, this is a shallow cliche, and in a city like Chicago, the dating scene is not black and white. It’s hard to believe that Josh is complete failure at love and even casual dating. Then again, it’s hard to tell just why someone would date Josh at this point, because his main and only character development is that he’s bad at dating.

Josh’s character is falling dangerously close to the cliche of the “nice guy” whom we should feel bad for because women won’t sleep with him, where said women are nameless pursuits at clubs and bars. This type of sexual pursuit feels incredibly dated, when the modern dating world involves so much more than pickups at noisy bars. Character development for this show need not be as intense as, say, House of Cards or Mad Men, but many other half-hour comedies have done stellar jobs of making their protagonists multidimensional. Ted from How I Met Your Mother was also an awkward guy who was unlucky at love, but he was also defined by his friendships and career.

Adding to the cliche is Josh’s best friend, Mike (and one of two friends that we know about), who is simply a seduction machine, dangerously close to the archetype of a “pickup artist” who only sees women as a prey to hunt, which is the only facet of his personality that we’ve seen so far. One clever exchange that comes out of this is that Mike explains to Josh that he attracts women by making “spiral eyes,” which hypnotizes them. Mike reveals that when he hit puberty, a wizard showed up and taught him how to do it.

This is a great metaphor for how many people feel that dating and sex is so easy for everyone else, they must know some secret that others don’t. That all seems random and unmerited, and the metaphor demonstrates the way that this show can be clever in its quick wit, yet can fail at other bits because they are dragged on for a few more beats than they should be.

We also see this at the top of the episode, when Josh settles in his couch to masturbate; his hand comes to life and talks to him about how things need to be different and his hand is breaking up with him. “It’s always the same thing,” the hand complains. “I’ll never forget when you discovered the Delia’s catalog,” the hand reminisces, and a nod to nineties kids. But then the storyline continues and doesn’t build on anything. The hand breakup continues long after we’ve already gotten the joke.

The same pacing problem occurs when Josh finally does go home with a woman (who is terribly drunk and picks Josh at random). As he is about to consummate, he realizes he lost his penis. Literally. He calls the cab driver, the DJ at the club, etc., and they can’t find it. Finally, the bartender fetches it for him in the men’s room, where there’s a sequence of him dropping it in the toilet, getting it in his mouth, and wrestling it from a pitbull. This is a heavy-handed turn of events for the simple joke about Josh not getting able to get an erection.

If the writers of the show want Josh and Mike to be merely vehicles to set up imaginative, metaphorical scenes, I think they’ve given themselves a hard task, as they will need to keep up that level of imagination for a whole season.

However, there would be a large benefit to taking Josh and Mike out of these tired, outdated notions of men pursuing women. There are infinitely more ways for Josh to stumble over relationships than nightclubs. Caring more about the characters would also make us more invested in the metaphorical bits. I would love to see Liz, Josh’s cousin and the only regular female character on the show with a name, have more to do than to simply be Josh’s dating cheerleader.

Even with this critique, I still hold out a sliver of hope for this show, as its originality and sense of fun are refreshing in the age of antiheroes and dark stories. I will likely check back after a few more episodes to see if it has progressed at all. But for now, I’ll let it stew.

Man Seeking Woman airs Wednesdays 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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