There’s been a huge lacking in successful TV comedies. Every once in a while, a series like The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family will grab mainstream attention and runaway as the sitcom that “makes it.” Usually they’re comedies that you wouldn’t expect. Big Bang on paper doesn’t seem like it should be the biggest comedy on television and Modern Family could be perceived as a run-of-the-mill sitcom that’s been done a hundred times over.
I really wanted to like Mulaney for so many reasons. First, sitcoms are the underdog. They rarely succeed anymore so when one does make it, its refreshing. There are so many great shows that deserved better than what they got, like Community who’s been relegated to Yahoo.com instead of a prime time slot on a major network.
Maybe part of the problem with Mulaney is it tries so hard to be meta. Or maybe its the comparison to Seinfeld — a show about nothing… but really a semi-based-on-himself sitcom. It’s actually neither of those. Or both. I really can’t tell.
If John Mulaney isn’t being meta and this is just a traditional sitcom, it’s terrible. Awful. Seriously, garbage.
In the pilot we’re first introduced to John (John Mulaney) and his girlfriend or roommate or friend (it’s never really explained) Jane played by Nasim Pedrad, who left Saturday Night Live for this pilot. Nasim had pretty decent
screen time on SNL and presumably could have stayed on if she chose. Why she didn’t and decided to jump ship for this is beyond me. Why FOX picked this up is beyond belief. How it made it this far is inconceivable, until you realize Whitney had two seasons on NBC.
The show’s first plotline is so meta I can’t tell if it was done on purpose. John works for Lou Cannon (Martin Short), a comedian who hosts a game show. Jane attends the show as an audience member but doesn’t laugh at anything. She doesn’t find the comedian or the show funny. If this is purposely meta comedy, it’s brilliant because this is how we’ll feel the rest of the show. At least we all identify with a character in the show.
The show proceeds to go off the deep end as far as absurdity goes. The show has had no trouble comparing itself to Seinfeld but the difference is Seinfeld could be absurd but smart at the same time. Mulaney looks to inject absurdest humor around punchline-punchline-punchline (all of which miss terribly).
More than halfway through, the show found its stride and its a terrible one. The jokes miss, the plot is thin and the characters are so one dimensional they’re more suited for sketch comedy. Then Elliot Gould shows up as a character so over-the-top it makes Cosmo Kramer look like a Buddhist monk. Seriously, the show is begging you to hate it.
If these warnings haven’t helped pursade you away or your name is on the title of the show, Mulaney premieres October 5th on FOX.