June 13, 2015 at 12:09 pm #350154
Man Seeking Woman is the Best Show That You Did Not Know Existed
By Riley Chow, Gold Derby
The first season of Man Seeking Woman aired on FXX a few months
ago. It was
the definition of “under the radar” with 0.2 million viewers, which is a shame because it was just about
the funniest thing on television this past year.
A surreal half-hour comedy that plays loose with its narrative, the
absurdist style of Man Seeking Woman will admittedly not be for everyone, but it
is nothing if not unique. This is one
where the less you know, the better, so suffice it to say that two episodes is
all that it takes for a full understanding.
On the surface, Man Seeking Woman is a dating comedy grounded by a
reliable performance from Jay Baruchel (This is the End) in the well-meaning and awkward everyman
role that he often inhabits. Based on a book of short stories by Simon
Rich, a sketch series was the more obvious route for adaptation, given that the
shorts only connect thematically and also given Rich’s background as the
second-youngest writer ever on Saturday Night Live. Instead, Rich assembled a dream team to bring
his book to television as a sitcom with sketch tendencies.
Lorne Michaels is executive producer now to both Saturday Night Live and Man
Seeking Woman and he brings an assortment of former and current staffers from
the former to guest star. Jonathan
Krisel from Portlandia is lead director; Ian Maxtone-Graham is on the writing
staff after two decades on The Simpsons, as is Robert Padnick, who was
WGA-nominated for his writing debut: “PDA”, the funniest episode of the later
seasons of The Office.
Of course, the two episodes submitted for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
are the two by Sofia Alvarez—her first screenplays. She shares credit with Rich on one; the other
is the season’s penultimate episode, in which the show cleverly reinvents
itself to flesh out the overachieving sister played by Britt Lower (Unforgettable) and give her
all that one could ever ask for in an Emmy submission for Outstanding
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. The title sequence
is even rearranged as “Woman Seeking Man” to mark the occasion.
Main Title Design is unfortunately the only aspect of this hilarious and
innovative series that stands a chance at Emmy recognition, as that category is
consistently kind to programs that are snubbed everywhere else. Drawn in black-and-white outlines reminiscent
of 2010’s Emmy-winning Bored to Death sequence, the titles perfectly
capture the spirit of the show by giving simple dating icons a fantastical
This is a show that deserves double-digit nominations when factoring in
the below-the-line races. Reflecting the
sketch sensibilities, episodes frequently feature entirely new locales
with creatively dressed sets and characters; this is a rare sitcom with visual
flair. Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live) was inexplicably cast
as an old man in the pilot when a real old man would have sufficed; if the
Oscars could overcome whatever bias that they had against Bad Grandpa to
recognize that makeup, the Emmys owe the prosthetics team of Man Seeking Woman
Hailed as “TV’s smartest new comedy” by The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon,
“always engrossing and smart” by Yahoo’s Ken Tucker and “refreshingly new
and bafflingly different” by Newsday’s
Verne Gay, among other raves, FX has sent all ten episodes to Emmy voters, so hopefully, they take note.June 13, 2015 at 12:42 pm #350156
This is a really interesting show with a premise that is being refreshed every other episode of the first season.
The pilot remains in my mind as a fine example of writing that points out the meaning of passive aggressiveness in our relationships.
Teacup (109) is the magnum-opus of the show, in my opinion and deserves the article itself, Riley.Good job!June 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm #350157
I told you all to watch Review last year and my new underappreciated comedy recommendation is Man Seeking Woman! It is admittedly not as strong as Review, but I do prefer it to any drama that I have seen this past season.
The second episode “Traib” was my favourite of the season because of the text deliberation scene that guest starred a hilarious Michael Hogan from Battlestar Galactica. It was what I and Os suggested to helmetz for him to watch in the “Please Help an Emmy Voter” thread, but it looks like FX did not submit it. “Teacup” is kind of the magnum opus of the show because it was more or less the other nine episodes compressed into one for the change in perspective, but I kind of feel weird supporting it because it is such a break from format that the main character of the show only cameos at the beginning and end of it. Their other writing submission “Dram” is a funny episode, but it strikes me as too weird for a first-time viewer. I spoke to Jay Baruchel a couple of days ago and his favourite episode is actually “Branzino”. That interview will be posted in a few days and it was possibly my most fun one yet. It must have been our connection as skinny young pale Canadian guys with dark hair.
That user Os also said in the “Winner Tapes From Actors That Won’t Be Nominated” thread that Baruchel could win, but I think that that is a bit of a stretch. It feels like he is just playing himself, so he just barely makes my top six for his category. I really do feel that this deserves ten nominations though: series, writing, directing, lead actor, supporting actress, costume design, picture editing, production design, prosthetic makeup and title design.February 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm #350158
Did anyone ever take my advice here? The second season is more than half over and it is falling short of the first season, although it still has moments of greatness like in this year’s “Woman Seeking Man” episode with Santa Claus. Last week’s “Honey” has been the season’s most consistent and creative entry, somehow going from equating Josh’s wooing of his coworker with a nationwide run for president to Fred Armisen as a gluten-intolerant Jesus to an extended flashback about Josh’s father’s bear-like hibernation and kidnapping into the circus.February 23, 2016 at 11:21 am #350159
I adore this show and its creativity. I didn’t really understand it the first few episodes and unfortunately dropped it out of forgetting to set the Tivo but I caught up on some of season one and am watching season two in full and it really is excellent