My Boys -- an early look
One of the things I dislike about television is when they try to compare a new show to an established classic. You know, when they begin a promotion with "If you liked Friends . . .", or something like that. When I hear that what immediately comes to mind is, "It will absolutely, totally not be like Friends."
So, when I heard promotions for the TBS original comedy My Boys (which premieres on November 28th at 10 pm) start with the line "If you like Sex in the City . . ." I was immediately wary. After watching a few episodes of the series I can honestly say that it is similar to Sex in the City only that the main character is a woman who is a writer. Oh, I'm not saying that the show isn't watchable, because it is, but it is definitely not in the Sex category. In fact, I'm not too sure what category it falls in, other than single-camera comedy.
Before I get too far ahead, let me tell you a bit about the show itself. PJ Franklin (played by Jordana Spiro) is a 20-something sports reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Her voice, looks and personality remind me a bit of Brett Butler (okay, a very young Brett Butler, minus the ravages of substance abuse). She's not your typical girl, though. If anything, she's a tomboy who would rather drink beer and play poker with her guy friends than go out on a date.
And, boy, does she have a lot of guy friends! There's Kenny (Michael Bunin) who is a sports-memorabilia store owner, Mike (Jamie Kaler) who works for the Chicago Cubs, Brendan (Reid Scott) who's a radio DJ, and Andy Franklin (Jim Gaffigan, probably the most recognizable star in the cast), who is PJ's married brother. Along the way she's introduced to Bobby (Kyle Howard, the second most recognizable star in the cast), a writer for a rival paper who initially shows interest in PJ. Unfortunately, PJ blows it with him and he eventually becomes one of the gang (shades of Jerry and Elaine in Seinfeld). The only woman friend PJ has is Stephanie (Kelle Stewart), a girlie-girl who provides advice on men and dating.
Here's my problem with the network comparing this to Sex in the City in their promotions. Where Sex was a fairly over-the-top representation of horny women in oh-so-chic New York City, My Boys is, as Jim Gaffigan mentioned in the press material, a show that's built out of reality. And, while that's okay, it makes the show a bit boring. Well, amusingly boring at the least. As I said, it's a watchable show, but not a laugh-out-loud comedy like other single-camera shows such as The Office. The cast is fairly strong, the plots are fine (although they dip a bit into Seinfeld territory) but the most I got from watching the few episodes that I was provided were a few smiles.
In addition, I do have a few issues with the show. First, Gaffigan is barely there, other than in the poker scenes. If there is one actor that works well with the dry humor of Boys, it's Gaffigan. If you've heard his stand-up routines he does a boatload of real-life stuff. Heck, I listened to a set where he did 30 minutes on food alone. So, other than playing a married man who is on an extremely short leash, I'm not sure why he doesn't have a meatier role.
The other issue I have is with PJ's voice-overs within each episode. I wouldn't mind them, except every time she starts her narrations with "Your friends are like a baseball team . . ." followed by a constant stream of baseball metaphors. Look, we know she's a baseball writer, but is she so obsessed with it that it permeates her thoughts as well? If I were Betsy Thomas, the creator of the show, I would drop the voice-overs or at least remove a good portion of the baseball comparisons.
So, should you tune in on Tuesday nights to watch My Boys? I don't really have an answer for you on that one. It's not a terrible show. Yet, the humor and situations are dry enough that it could make you sleepy, especially airing at 10 pm. I say give it a try and see if it is to your liking or not.