If only this series were salacious or exciting in any way, I would be happy to hate-watch it every week. But since it’s a mediocre slice-of-life sitcom in which nothing exciting ever happens, I think my Tuesday nights are going to be free of About a Boy very soon.
Let’s bitch it out…
Who knew that Jason Katims, who’s written some of television’s greatest creative successes, could create a series as awkward and filled with stereotypical characters as About a Boy? He and his writing staff are responsible for some of television’s most memorable characters, like Friday Night Lights’ Tim Riggins and Matt Saracen, and most moving storylines, like Kristina Braverman’s fight against cancer on Parenthood. So it’s surprising that Will (David Walton) and Fiona (Minnie Driver) are as annoying and one-dimensional as they are. It’s obvious from the moment the words “talk circle” leave Dakota’s (Leslie Bibb) lips what’s in store for Fiona and the school moms who get together to talk about Marcus (Benjamin Stockham). Fiona will throw some new-agey sounding phrases about communication and togetherness and no one will respond to her. And that’s exactly what happens.
Where is the surprise on this show? Why do the writers bother telling these predictable stories if they aren’t going to subvert them in any interesting ways? Nothing represents this laziness and unoriginality better than what Will says when he sees Dakota approach the house: “Something sexy this way comes.” Really? That’s the best these writers can come up with? It’s a line so painful that should be supported by an awkward laugh track on an ABC Family sitcom. I give David Walton credit for uttering it without the slightest cringe or look of regret about this most recent career choice.
If a series is going to be this uninspired, it should at least make sense and feel natural. But Marcus somehow getting in trouble for the “explosion” in the science lab is completely ridiculous. How is he the one getting in trouble when it’s lab partner Hannah who clearly hasn’t been paying attention and starts haphazardly mixing chemicals together? And where is the teacher to warn students not to mix certain chemicals together if they can cause explosions? It seems as though the writers know that they need Marcus to cause trouble, but they don’t want to actually have him do anything bad because they need Marcus to be a perfect child for some reason. So they try to finagle an awkward science experiment that doesn’t make sense into the script instead of creating conflicts that fit with the characters naturally.
Even more forced than that classroom scene is the final act at Hannah’s birthday party. First of all, the audience is expected to believe that Hannah’s parents don’t find it at all inappropriate that three adults are running around at their daughter’s party and pulling middle school children aside to talk to them? More importantly, however, is how this is the fourth consecutive episode in which the main conflict is resolved by Will sacrificing his own wants to do “the right thing” to bring about the predetermined (and completely obvious) happy ending. T
his week, Will and Dakota halt their awkward pre-coital make-out session to save Marcus from embarrassing himself at the party. And with Fiona’s help, they somehow convince popular girl Hannah to give social pariah Marcus a dance, because that is definitely how middle school children actually behave. Is this the only story or conflict the writers are ever going to explore? Does Will have no other faults than being selfish, and can stories end any differently than happily ever after? It doesn’t seem like that’ll ever happen on this show, apparently.
I’m going to give this show one more week. But if next week’s episode can’t eek out a single conflict that doesn’t involve Will realizing that he has to get over himself and step up, next week will be my last review.
- I was so excited to see Andrea Anders cameo this week, since she was charming and funny as Linda on ABC’s short-lived sitcom Better Off Ted. So it’s unfortunate that she gets stuck playing the humorless mother of mean girl Hannah. But at least her cameo gives me an excuse to mention Better Off Ted, which I highly recommend (and is available to stream on Netflix)!
- Also four weeks running? That quote of the week goes to Marcus. When asked if he can be a bad boy, Marcus gives us his best James Dean pose and confesses, “Sometimes I don’t rinse out my cereal bowl.”
- Fact: There’s not enough Andy (Al Madrigal) this week. That is all.
And with that, I turn this review over to you. Are you at all invested in Will or Fiona’s characters? Would you rather watch a spinoff about Andy? Or would you rather use the comments to discuss better shows – Who is your favorite Friday Night Lights character?
About a Boy airs Tuesdays at 9 EST on NBC.