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July 30, 2014

Gary Unmarried: the new According to Jim

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 21st 2008 9:20AM
Gary UnmarriedAnyone who thinks that the lame, traditional, laugh-track-laden sitcom is dead hasn't seen Gary Unmarried yet. Unfortunately, I have. And I've got to tell you, it's probably the worst sitcom since the undead According to Jim first infected our airwaves in 2001. It's too bad, given the talent involved.

And when I mention "talent," I don't mean series creator Ed Yeager, who helped foist Still Standing on the American public for four years. I'm talking about stars Jay Mohr, Paula Marshall, Ed Begley Jr., and Jaime King, as well as esteemed sitcom director James Burrows. They're talented people stuck in a show that contains the same wacky plots and "setup-joke" rhythm that has led many to think the multi-camera sitcom is as dead as disco.

Take the episode that just aired this past Wednesday: Gary and Allison, a couple who are bitter and divorced, but for some odd reason can't manage to stay out of each others' personal lives, pretend they're still married so Allison isn't embarrassed at her frenemy's vow-renewal ceremony. Why is Gary doing this? So he can have a party at her house.

But -- watch out! -- there's a woman at the ceremony who's hot and horny and is attracted to Gary like a vulture to a rotting carcass. Gary, who is barely buying into the charade because of his bitterness, is of course trying any way he can to have sex with this guest while at the same time keeping Allison's frenemy from discovering that they're no longer married. Lots of hiding in closets and jumping out of windows occur to the canned hoots and hollers of the audience. Of course, all is found out at the end, even as Gary tries to cover up Allison's invective towards him during the ceremony by making a goofy speech that involves the Russian poet "Stuffasockinit." After Allison admits they're divorced, others pop up to say they're either divorced or in trouble, and the husband of the frenemy admits ... he's gay!

Whooo! My sides hurt just thinking of the hilarity. The only thing that saves this show from being an utter disaster is some of the lines Mohr delivers, in the same matter-of-fact way he does in his stand-up act. Otherwise, the show displays the same kind of silly coincidences, credibility-stretching plots, and lame one-liners that made people hate most sitcoms starting in the early 2000s. Everyone involved -- especially Mohr, as fans of Action can attest -- have been in much better comedies in the recent past, which makes you wonder how they looked at this show and decided this was the best they could do.

Is there no quality control in Hollywood these days? The writers of shows like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, The New Adventures of Old Christine and others have proven that multi-camera is still a viable medium if the writing is of high quality. People will put up with silly characters and zany situations if the characters are identifiable, the jokes unpredictable, and the overall writing laugh-out-loud funny. I'm amazed that in this day and age, where spaces for comedy on the network schedules are scarce, both the network suits and the creative folks can still come up with shows that make The Single Guy look like high comedy in comparison.

Then again, someone must be watching; Gary has been picked up for a full season, while the other shows in its timeslot, like Knight Rider is struggling and the fantastic Pushing Daisies is dead.

Oh, and why am I watching Gary instead of Daisies? Well, the last few weeks, I've been DVRing it because I walk in from a class halfway through it. I bet a lot of people do that. I can't see anyone ever wasting disk space on Gary Unmarried.

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StillBash

Worst week is worse but "Gary" is an unfunny version of "Old Christine". They both aren't that good compared to really good comedies on TV like 30 Rock, The Office or HIMYM or TBBT. But at least it's no "Carpoolers". It's better, honestly. It might be predictable, but the jokes are at least funny compared to the braindead BS you get on "Jim".

November 23 2008 at 9:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chaim

I don't know why you TV Critics love to knock these types of shows. Not everyone wants their Tv watching to come with required research, homework, netsurfing for clues and hours of debate amongst friends.

Sometimes people just want to laugh about simple silly things. Why does everything have to be soooo intelligent.

Tv is about escape, sure, its nice to have smart tv, and its cool to have a few shows that service the geek gene, but come on ... if you guys had a blog back then you'd kvetch about 80 percent of the shows in the 70's and 80's.

Just let silly shows be ... someone is watching them or they wouldnt be on the air.

November 22 2008 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Will

Well, I enjoy it & I'm not a huge fan of sitcoms. But, then again, I also like Worst Week & just about everyone who commented hated that one. You mentioned Old Christine, but how is it so different? She & her ex are completely twisted up in each other's lives & they only have the one kid. He's over at her house every damn day just hanging around, eating her food, etc.etc. But you really lost the argument when you praised Two & a Half Men. That show was funny for 1 maybe 1 1/2 seasons. Now it's just the same thing over and over again. Charlie Sheen was once a pretty good actor (See Wall Street) but he really sold out when he signed onto that show for the long-term.

November 22 2008 at 3:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Lawler

Gary Unmarried is funny. predictable, yes, but funny. there's no way you can call this unfunny, and defend Two and a Half Men in the same sentence, they're basically the same show (I watch both.) Worst Week is predictable and unfunny.

November 22 2008 at 3:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ColdBrew

I've only seen the first 4 episodes so far (too many shows not enough time) but I thought this show was the funniest since two and half men. I laughed out loud!

Maybe it has gotten worse, I don't know. But I like it.

November 21 2008 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sissers

Is this show worse then "Worst Week"????? Cause that one SUCKS! Id almost rather see "Gary, Unmarried" after "Two and a Half Men", then "Worst Week"! At least I know I can stand to watch Jay Mohr. I loved him on "Ghost Whisperer".

November 21 2008 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dave

Maybe you can call it predictable, but to call it unfunny is just not accurate. Jay Mohr is hilarious. The kid actors are so over the top that they are usually funny as well. The absurd situations between he and his ex are ridiculously far from reality, but isn't this supposed to be a sitcom? My Name is Earl is also insanely out there, the only difference is the portrayal of the studio audience.

The only thing I disagree with is that Jaime King bleached her hair to such a revolting shade of Big Bird.

November 21 2008 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Takayo

I thought it was alright. Not that good, but not that bad. So-so. Like puragatory.

I would offer more critique but it's just not really important enough for me to remember stuff about it. Few comedies are, though, at least to me. I never really under stood why people review episodes of comedy shows, with a few exceptions (Scrubs, My Name is Earl, and if you really wanted to stretch it, stuff like Friends-things that aren't really episodic and have more than just a few arcs dealing with a central issue).

I mean, most comedy series have a ton of jokes, some miss, but ideally most hit and make you snort out a noodle of that lasagna frozen dinner from your nose (or other orifice, if you're really freaky), but after that, the most I do is ask someone the next day if they saw the episode and give them a replay of the funniest thing. No deep analysis of the character is involved.

Gary Unmarried can fulfill this- it DOES have a few jokes that are hilarious, and the one-liners are snappy enough to reference occasionally, but that's what makes it average, I guess. And I really hope many people aren't watching this and Old Christine over Daisies.

November 21 2008 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

This is one of the best-written posts I've seen on TVSquad in a while. Well done, Joel!

That said, I've been watching Gary Unmarried all season. I'm not saying it's great, but I enjoy the diversion. I certainly wouldn't compare it to According To Jim.

November 21 2008 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Riley Freeman

i like this show. its the only show i have really added to my watching list. actually im lying privileged im embarrassed to say im hooked on it. gary is the only comedy i added. i enjoy it.

i hated jim belushi but that show was watchable for the character that played andy. he was hilarious. i hope to see him in more movies/tv shows . he had like 2 seconds in wedding crashers and it was still funny.

November 21 2008 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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