by Alice Wilder
Every single review of Fox’s Mulaney that I have read starts with the reviewer insisting that they really, really want to like the show. I say this because I want you to know that I know what I’m about to say is cliche: I want to like Mulaney. The main character (also named John Mulaney) is a struggling comic who is hired by a difficult late night host as a writer. He lives with two friends, Jane (Nasim Pedrad) and Motif (Seaton Smith).
John Mulaney is one of the most talented stand up comics working right now and is working with a very talented cast. Nasim Pedrad is the only woman on the show thus far, which isn’t uncommon for multi-camera shows and would be a minor issue if her character was well developed or showed any chance of developing in the future. But her first line is “I’m not crazy” and she spends the rest of the episode breaking into her ex-boyfriend’s email account and stealing his belongings.
True, in her first scene she talks about the way men call female partners “crazy” in order to discredit them while “crazy” men are considered “passionate.” So fine, this happens, and it’s good. But I’m still waiting for her to have any lines unrelated to ex-boyfriends or male roommates. Nasim Pedrad is an incredibly talented comedian and I just want to see her in a great show that uses her talents well. She’s so underutilized on SNL and I thought that this would finally be our chance to see her full talents. Come on TV world! Do right by Nasim!
But honestly, let’s not worry about this show. I’d bet my GPA that it will be cancelled very soon. Lots of comedians have bad first shows. My guess is that this show is the way it is because of notes from the network. Don’t watch this show, wait for John Mulaney’s next show which will surely be better.
How to Get Away with Murder
I’m just going to be honest with y’all- I really love How to Get Away with Murder. While rewatching the pilot for this review I realized that none of the women on this show are “the girlfriend” or “the wife.” What?! That almost never happens.
The show starts with the new of a missing college student, Lila Stangard, who (Spoiler alert? I guess?) is later found dead. She is the only woman on this show defined by her relationship to a man (her boyfriend is the school’s star quarterback). I’m sure that Lila will be fleshed out as the show goes on- she’s already represented as having secrets and I don’t expect her to be defined as “the dead girlfriend” for long.
This show has hella well developed female characters. The main cast of law students has Laurel and Michaela. They’re just as competitive as any of their male classmates but also deal with sexual harassment and other gender-based discrimination. And then there’s Bonnie Winterbottom (Paris Gellar from Gilmore Girls, ya’ll!) and of course, Professor Annalise Keating, played by Viola Davis.
Viola Davis is just the best, you don’t need me tell you that. We all know she’s the best.
It would be easy to paint her as a heartless “ballbuster” but instead the writers give her many moments of empathy and vulnerability. Though tough, she quietly supports Wes and the other students multiple times. On top of that, she’s an actress over forty whose character is allowed to be sexual! It seems like on TV once a woman hits forty she is officially the non-sexual mom or aunt. I have to stop now otherwise this will turn into a think piece about ageism in Hollywood. Just watch How to Get Away with Murder, y’all.
A to Z
A to Z is fine. I laughed multiple times while watching it but it honestly felt like (500) Days of Summer was condensed into a 26 minute sitcom. The creators know this too, and don’t shy away from the comparison. The first thing that hit me about this show? There’s a female narrator. Can you remember the last time you heard a woman do the voiceover for a movie trailer or ad for a tv show? That shit never happens! It seems like a small detail, but I take this as a good omen for the direction of the show.
Andrew and Zelda, the romantic leads defy gender norms in their flirtation. Andrew doesn’t scope her out and aggressively try to pick her up. When he first sees her he’s too nervous to talk to her and once he does he’s painfully awkward. He believes in destiny and is a total romantic. Zelda knows that she doesn’t want a relationship.
She’s a lawyer who isn’t interested in dating, but not in the vein of Sandra Bullock in The Proposal. She has a life outside of her job and the audience isn’t asked to hate her because she has a career and doesn’t want to date. She isn’t cold, she just doesn’t believe in destiny or love at first sight.
He romanticizes her wildly and asks his IT friends to find out if she was at the same concert as him. This is creepy. But the show quickly calls it out: Zelda doesn’t think it’s romantic and she tells him he invaded her privacy. He apologizes and it seems sincere. So I don’t know, it’s not a deal breaker, I’d just like less e-stalking in sitcoms from now on.
Zelda and her best friend only ever talk about relationships in the first episode, but Andrew and his best friend also only talk about relationships. It remains to be seen if this will be a problem. Pilots are notoriously difficult to write so I’m inclined to give them some room to expand the lives of the lead characters. This show has a lot of promise, I’m hoping that from now on it leans away from 500 Days of Summer and explores multiple parts of these character’s lives.