The first season of “Hello Ladies” has just wrapped up on a surprisingly positive note with sad sack Stuart choosing to forgo a romantic conquest with a model in order to be a good friend.
As series creator, director and star Stephen Merchant revealed to Gold Derby during our exclusive webcam chat (watch below): “I do try to offer hope in the things I do… The world continues to grow and the characters continue to grow and you see some of the romantic spirit …. It’s exciting to start with lonely people and see them forge friendships and become closer. For some reason that’s more exciting than starting a show where like ‘everyone’s a good friend.’”
Merchant shared in the 2006 Emmy win for the U.S. adapation of his and Ricky Gervais‘ Britcom “The Office.” He is soloing on this HBO series and thinks “The Wedding” — the penultimate episode of the laffer’s freshman season — with Stuart stuck on the children’s table was “the strongest of the season for my money, for me at least as an actor… There’s lots of different beats in that episode and there’s lots of different kinds of emotional elements. That’s also true of the season finale as well. So those are the two that are strongest for me, as an actor, because I get to show some of the shadings of the character; where obviously in the earlier episodes you are just trying to define the world and make people laugh.”
Throughout the season, the series combined slapstick comedy — Stuart collapsed over bar tables — and sentiment with him sitting alone in his apartment. Explains Merchant, “Ultimately I want you to invest in it as you would like a book, I guess … where you can have a pathos and empathy … I just wanted to have all those human emotions and the problem with comedy is that the broader you make it the harder it is for people to buy into it in those ways.”
The series taps into the anxieties of dating and loneliness. As Merchant elaborates: “It sort of reflects something of the modern experience; it’s easy to feel lonely in the modern world, particularly in the big city.” That universal theme means “the audience is invested in that world so they are empathising whether they like it or not … most people are going on real dates” and “with dating in particular there’s an inerrant jeopardy.”
That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for the slapstick comedy in the show or Stephen’s own life. Merchant recalls “about a month and a half ago I was at a party thrown by the comedian Sarah Silverman… I walked through an eight foot plate glass window, shattered in its entirety, at the party. If I put that in the show people would go ‘oh bullshit!’ That actually happened to me.”
Do you think the series will contend at the Golden Globes. After watching the webcam chat, vote below it using our easy drag-and-drop menu.