Something has been bothering me lately.
It is very unlikely that, as consumers of television, any of the Tonight’s Watch readers haven’t been exposed to Ricky Gervais in one way or another at this point. He is everywhere. But, that’s not the problem — I like Ricky Gervais — it’s just that I like his partner, Stephen Merchant, much more. Merchant has worked with Gervais on almost every venture he has had, but I don’t think he is anywhere near as popular (except in the video game world) as his partner. I’d like to see that change.
That’s why I’d like to talk about Stephen Merchant’s new HBO comedy series, Hello Ladies.
The series follows Stuart (Stephen Merchant), a British web designer, as he looks for love in (all the wrong places) Los Angeles. It’s hard to believe that Stuart hasn’t found love yet, he is the whole package. He’s got brains, class, self-confidence and he’s the best friend you could ever ask for. Well, that’s what Stuart would tell you at least. In reality, Stuart is essentially a less sleazy, British version of Howard Wolowitz from the Big Bang Theory.
Continuing with the main cast of Hello Ladies, Stuart is joined by his sad sack of a best friend, Wade (Nate Torrence), who uses the landmark case on abortion as an example when he needs to correct people who mispronounce his name and his tenant, Jessica (Christine Woods), who is writing a web series. While Jessica has a boyfriend in the pilot, I’m pretty sure he won’t be staying around very long. It’s pretty clear from the start that the main cast is going to dance around with relationships until Stuart and Jessica finally get together. Then, they’ll break up and do the dance a little longer before they get back together again.
If you’ve seen any of the other shows by the kings of cringe comedy (a title I thought I made up for Gervais and Merchant until I searched for it just now) you probably have an idea of what to expect from Hello Ladies. Even if you’re not familiar with their work, there is a good chance the series won’t be breaking new ground for you. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think it has to be. But, that might have to do with how close to home Hello Ladies hits as a young, nerdy guy living around Los Angeles.
There is something comforting about watching this (uncomfortable) series. Sure, you might feel like you’ve been here before, but how many comedies bring completely new ideas to the table? I’m pretty sure Seth MacFarlane’s entire career is based upon that idea and look how successful he has become. Hello Ladies is uncomfortable and brilliant at the same time (kind of like Dads wanted to be, but good).
- Rating: “Comfortably uncomfortable.”
- Comment: While Hello Ladies won’t keep you on the edge of your seat, it does come equipped with all the allure of watching a train accident in slow motion over and over again.
- You might like Hello Ladies if you like: cringe comedy, The Office or any other series by Gervais & Merchant, Flight of the Conchords.
Hello Ladies airs Sunday nights on HBO. You can also watch the first episode over on Youtube.
Oh, you should probably watch this, too.