Reviewing Three New TV Shows: The Bitch in Apt 23, Girls, Veep

Apparently female-led TV shows are all the rage these days.  When the new TV schedule launched last fall, people were praising all the shows that suddenly focused on women.  There are three shows in particular that women seem to have gravitated towards, but the only problem is that they are all differing levels of horrible.  There’s Whitney (Colossal Disaster), 2 Broke Girls (Regular-sized Disaster), and New Girl (Whatever one step below a disaster is).

I know what you’re thinking…how do I know so much about these “TV shows for women,” right?  Well, on my most unlucky nights, I’m sometimes forced to watch TV with women.  Unfortunately they don’t pick to watch the same NHL Network highlights over and over.  They pick the three shows mentioned above.  Whitney is so horrible that on one episode, you could actually hear boo’s coming from the automated laugh track.  2 Broke Girls is possibly the least funny sitcom anyone’s ever created.  And the only redeeming quality of New Girl is the hotness of its lead actress, Zooey Deschanel.  But even that isn’t enough to give the show any staying power in my mind.

I take most of my cues on what new shows to watch from Entertainment Weekly.  The magazine reminds you of every new show coming out on a weekly basis, and they make solid recommendations most of the time.  But I was naturally a little skeptical when I saw three more female-led shows hitting the TV within a couple weeks of each other.  EW gave all three solid reviews so I thought I’d try them all out and report back on my experience.

Here are my reviews and rankings of the three new shows in question:

3. Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 (Three episodes aired, Wednesdays at 9:30pm on ABC)

Terrible name.  Terrible show.

This sitcom is about June, a 26-year-old woman whose job as a mortgage broker transfers her from Indiana to New York.  The opening episode jams the theme of “naive midwesterner in a big, scary city” down our throats.  June’s life plan is to be married with a steady job by 26, have two kids by 30, blah blah blah…  All of that goes to shit when her office and apartment are seized by the feds because her boss is accused of embezzling money.  From there her life spirals out of control when she catches her fiance cheating on her with her new roommate, Chloe.

Chloe is the “bitch” from the title.  She’s apparently a con artist that does whatever necessary to drive her roommates crazy (walk around naked, have loud parties on a Tuesday night, go to the bathroom while her roommate is in the bath tub).  These roommates inevitably get fed up and leave, and Chloe gets to keep their rent money and security deposit.

This premise seems halfway decent if the show was centered around Chloe and a revolving door of roommates, but instead it seems like June is the center of this show.  That’s unfortunate because it means we’re in for 10 more episodes of her bouncing back and forth between, “I’m 26 and my life plan isn’t on track anymore, poor me,” and, “You’re right, why do I care about my life plan so much?  Let’s be spontaneous.”

After watching all three episodes, I can confidently tell you not to bother with it.  The plots are horrible and all over the place; the characters haven’t been developed very well; the funny parts that are supposed to be centered around the outrageous Chloe and her antics fall more than flat (as an example, in episode 2, the “humor” was centered around Chloe calling her dad “Scott” and treating him like a friend instead of a dad).  And somehow, these two women who were ready to rip each other’s throats out in episode one are suddenly chummy and happy to coexist in episodes two and three.  It’s also beyond unbelievable that June would stay in this apartment with the stuff Chloe puts her through.

Best minor character: James Van Der Beek…played by James Van Der Beek.  I’d watch a show based purely on this guy looking for acting jobs, but unfortunately Don’t Trust the B only gives us three minutes of him per episode.

Status on my DVR: Cancelled effective immediately

2. Girls (Three episodes aired, Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO)

Go ahead.  Laugh at me for thinking I might enjoy a show titled “Girls.”  But I like HBO original programming, and I usually give most of their new shows a try.  I understood the premise to be, “young adult trying to find her niche in life struggles to get by in a recession-era New York City.”  I thought it would be a show that all young adults could relate to as they try to find their place in the world.  I was hoping for universal themes and plots.  Unfortunately, after three episodes, it seems like this is a show for women only.  Here are some of the main topics and issues the characters have dealt with so far:

-Unwanted pregnancy and the subsequent abortion

-Getting your period when you think you’re pregnant

-Getting tested for STD’s because the guy who you have sex with regularly may or may not always use a condom, and may or may not be sleeping with other women

-Being a virgin at the age of 20-something

And for the most part, these things weren’t dealt with in a humorous way.  I could maybe get on board with that.  It’s a particularly heavy show, and while it’s extremely well done, I just don’t think it’s for me (call me immature, but I really do need some laughs with my daily dose of abortion, periods, and STDs).  The reason I haven’t ditched the show entirely is because I’m amazed by Lena Dunham (not in a “she’s hot” kind of way like Zooey).  She plays the lead character, Hannah, but also is the creator/executive producer of the show, and she writes and directs the episodes too.  That’s pretty friggen amazing for a 25-year-old.

Best line so far: “There is seriously nothing flakier in this world than not showing up to your own abortion.”  See, now that’s abortion with a humorous twist!  If only more of the show could be that funny.

Status on my DVR: Not cancelled yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

1). Veep (Two episodes aired, Sundays at 10pm on HBO)

Brilliant.  The idea to create a show focused on the Vice President of the United States isn’t brilliant itself.  But the combination of the genre (comedy), the tone (hapless satire with just the right amount of subtlety) and the lead actress (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) make it extremely promising.

You could almost describe Veep as “Parks and Recreation in the White House.”  It has the politician who means well but tends to put her foot in her mouth far too often. And it has her surrounding staff of misfits who can simultaneously get her out of a jam while creating a whole new problem.  If you like Parks and Rec, The Office or Arrested Development, give this show a chance and I promise you won’t regret it.

Best Minor Character: Speaking of Arrested Development, Tony Hale, who plays Buster on that show, is cast as Gary, the VP’s body man.  I have no idea what a body man really does, but it apparently includes taking a “sneeze bullet” for the VP.  And while we’re talking about the minor characters, I have a feeling that if you watch Veep, you’ll enjoy the VP’s staff more than the VP herself.  They are all amazing in their own way.

Best line so far: “Did the President call? No?”  It’s a running question from the VP to her receptionist, and you have to watch to appreciate it.

Status on my DVR: Taping all episodes, on the rise as one of my favorite comedies.

Wandering my way through TV and Film while waiting for Pinterest to accept me

My hiatus from blogging is over, but I’ve basically been in a three-day coma since coming back from Vegas.  This post might be rambling, incoherent and a waste of your time.  I’ll be back with something on Vegas before the week’s over though.

-As usual, I’m late to the party, but I’ve been hearing about this Pinterest contraption for the last couple weeks.  Curiosity and wikipedia tell me that it’s most popular with women.  I knew it was a perfect fit for me so I tried to sign up.  Pinterest was kind enough to send me an email saying, “Thanks for joining the Pinterest waiting list. We’ll be sure to send you an invite soon.  In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter. You can also explore a few pins.  We’re excited to get you pinning soon!  – Ben and the Pinterest Team”

We’re excited to get you pinning soon?  Thanks for joining the waiting list?  Does Pinterest realize I’m not putting my name in for Patriots season tickets here?  I’m trying to log on to a G.D. website.  I work in the web-based applications industry.  The whole point is for the customer to be able to use the software immediately, and have as many people as they want on it.  This whole “exclusive” thing just isn’t gonna fly for me.  Oh, and I can follow you on Twitter so you can continue to taunt me about not being a member?  Pinterest, you just lost your worst customer.

I shouldn’t complain though because March is the perfect time for this thing to catch on.  I know a certain girlfriend who went to a bar with her boyfriend two Saturdays ago and proceeded to sit through six hours of basketball.  Pinterest literally babysat her the whole time.  Same goes for that half hour every night where you just wanna watch ESPNNEWS to catch up on the day’s events.  It’s like that very repetitive joke from a million TV shows where the parents plop their kid in front of the TV, turn it on and leave the house for hours.  Just pull up Pinterest on your iPad or computer, hand it to the girl and let her pin away.

The best part is that after you watch her spend an entire day on Pinterest, you can actually get mad at her for ignoring you the whole time.  And she won’t even realize you just watched eight straight basketball games.

From what I can tell, Pinterest is a place where women tell each other all the things they’re not going to accomplish in their lives (“I’m definitely gonna start knitting and make everyone a scarf.”  or “I’m gonna collect a bunch of jars and then fill them with old bottle caps, wine corks and fortunes from fortune cookies.”)

-Even though I hated to put the blog on hiatus for a week, I thought it would be a good litmus test to see if people were excited enough about it to think something was broken since they weren’t receiving the emails or twitter updates.  I expected people would be checking the website to see if they missed something.  Not only do the page view stats not support this idea, but WordPress is threatening to evict me if I don’t start pulling in more than two viewers a day.  Let’s move on to my very random thought on TV:

-I’m loyal to a fault when it comes to my favorite TV shows, especially with ranking who’s at the top of my Favorite Comedies list.  Up until a few years ago, it was The Office, even if that show had already peaked years earlier.  More recently it’s been It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which has had an amazing five or six year run.  The true measuring stick of which show I love the best is whether I watch each episode multiple times.  There’s always a show that I need to re-watch, sometimes three or four times in a week.  Based on this information, I’m happy to announce a new top dog in my thirty-minute comedy power rankings.  And that dog is Parks & Recreation.  If you’re not watching it, you’re making a huge mistake.

And if you do watch Parks & Rec religiously, and Andy Dwyer isn’t your favorite character, then you’re a goddamned moron.  How can you not love this guy:

Moving on to movies…

-If you’re considering seeing Wanderlust in theaters, consider this first: A movie for two will cost you about $22 (not counting that extra large popcorn, soda and jujubes, you fat ass), but for free I can send you Role Models and you can imagine Jennifer Aniston playing Paul Rudd’s girlfriend/wife instead of Elizabeth Banks.  If you just picture that movie plus a little more nudity and drugs, you’ve got Wanderlust.  And that’s actually giving it too much credit.  Role Models was solid; this abortion of a movie managed to ruin my entire night and ruin my faith in comedy.  Friedchips better temper his expectations for the not-yet-made Wet Hot American Summer 2 based on what I just witnessed from David Wain.

-The only movies in my lifetime that I’ve needed to see on their opening day were the three newest Star Wars, and I’m not ashamed at all to admit that.  I am, however, slightly ashamed to admit that I’m taking work off this Friday to see the Hunger Games on its opening day.  I bought tickets ahead of time, planning to show up nice & early, and sacrificing a vacation day that could be used for something like vacation eventually to see this movie.  You can laugh…it’s a movie for teenagers/young adults.  I like to think 29 is still considered “young adult” but I don’t think so.  If this movie is as “good” as Wanderlust, I’m going to slit my wrists.