I typically walk away from a single friends comedy premieres that immediately implies two members of the group will end up together. When HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER first aired, I could not stand that the pilot was forcing Robin and Ted on the viewers but the ending of the pilot remedied this issue in the reveal that the goal was not for Ted to wind up with Robin (the rest of the series completely undid the excellent work of the pilot and first season but that is another post). Elizabeth Meriweather has always held that she did not intend for Nick and Jess to be the central couple of her series, NEW GIRL, bt it is apparent in the writing of the pilot that it was there and the inability of the writers to move away from that in the first season seriously held back their structure. This week, new single-friends comedy WEIRD LONERS premiered and stepped right into this dilemma in its pilot when characters Caryn (Becki Newton) and Stosh (Zachary Knighton) first meet. How the writers masterfully stepped out of it while simultaneously showing the entire cast’s chemistry was fantastic, as well as completely satisfying.
The series from Michael J. Weithorn opens with lead, Caryn, at dinner on a singles cruise with a date and overwhelming him with talk of couples therapy and fear of intimacy. Dinner is cut short by her date and she returns to her home in Queens, NY, where we learn she actually has a marriage proposal from a doctor. Meanwhile, Stosh is fired from his job and forced out of his apartment, so he goes in search of his cousin, Eric, who is also Caryn’s neighbor. Eric’s father has just died and Stosh invites himself to move in. At Stosh’s advice, Eric explores New York and meets Zara, a somewhat dark and upfront artist. It is a lot of meeting and greeting a first act but it runs smoothly and the awesome odd-couple-attitude of Eric and Zara are definite stand outs.
The second act throws together Caryn and Stosh. This is where is could go wrong… but there is real chemistry between the two as we learn what they are both more about. Stosh definitely sees himself as a ladies man and wants to sleep with Caryn, and she is clearly attracted to him as they work together to make dinner for Caryn’s fiancee (apparently she called him and said “yes”). As you watch them you really want them to make out but I could not help but worry about how they were going to work their way out in future episodes. The fiancee arrives and the entire group assembles as they pretend to be Caryn’s book club she wanted fiancee, Harold (David Wain), to meet.
Now that the group is together we see the full force of the cast and how well they work together as the jokes seamlessly arise in the scene. Caryn finally steps up and ends her engagement and after Harold leaves the crew crashes a local wedding where a sad Caryn tells Zara to move in with her. The episode’s climactic moment happens as the group makes fun of the wedding vows but when the wedding couple kiss Caryn declares she still wants to get married. From this moment on the audience knows that the goal is not for Caryn and Stosh to be together. The actors, I’m sure, will still share plenty of chemistry, but the writers will not be able to focus on them as a couple unless Stosh suddenly decides that he doesn’t want to die alone (though he emphatically declares that is the dream) this couple cannot be together and changing that would kill the title of the show.
I was honestly more taken with the relaxed duo of Zara and Eric the most. While Caryn’s story could appear sad, these two easily pick up the light hearted and unexpected moment. Caryn’s character does not completely track. She wants to get married and be with someone but she had a proposal while she went on a single’s cruise? I understand that Harold hits the idea home when he says that he hoped loving her would be enough. Clearly Caryn wants more but it is still unclear what she is looking for exactly.
It is too bad the series is premiering so late in the year. Last summer my favorite show was YOU’RE THE WORST and the following fall premiered multiple sitcoms that wanted to have a similar modern-Mad-About-You-feel but all failed horrifically. WEIRD LONERS would have been a much better fall premiere (along with my other new favorite LAST MAN ON EARTH). Networks were clearly looking for couples-comedies when they should have been looking at the tone. It even has a bit of a cable show attitude but manages to make it work for network. If YOU’RE THE WORST is the modern-Mad About You, then WEIRD LONERS is the updated-FRIENDS. Hell, they even figured out that Brooklyn is over and everything in NYC has moved onto Queens (though Greeks reign in Astoria ore than Polish, and I’m glad to get out of Queens before the next youth-wave destroys it). It shows the effects of an ego-driven and internet-living age that extends beyond our clunky twenties and into the thirties when we were really supposed to have our shit together. It is identifiable without feel apathetic, much like the lives of its viewers. I can only hope that WEIRD LONERS is able to gain the following that it deserves.
How are you all enjoying the new show? Love it or hate it?