One of the awesome things about having nothing but time on your hands is that you aren’t really hindered by responsibilities. Because I have nothing but free time, I can watch the Emmys carefree, just like I did tonight.
By the same token, I can attend tv show tapings or screenings pretty much whenever I want, because my schedule is completely open. Thanks to my open schedule, I was able to check out a screening of HBO’s upcoming comedy Hello Ladies.
The premise of the show is that Stephen (Stephen Merchant) is a Brit who hasn’t figured out how to get laid in L.A. He’s the wrong kind of shallow and moderately awkward. He only seems normal because his best buddy Wade (Nate Torrence) is distraught because his marriage is failing. Stephen’s other wingman is Jessica (Christine Woods) an actress who also happens to be his tenant. Wade and Stephen also hang out with the wheelchair bound Kives (Kevin Weisman.)
I will say this for the show; it exists. I went to the screening with two other guys and two episodes were shown. Both episodes lasted approximately 30 minutes and an hour was filled. Later in the evening Alan Alda randomly walked past us on the street. And honestly we spent more time discussing Alan Alda than we did the two episodes of a show we’d just watched together.
Which isn’t to say that Hello Ladies is bad. There is comedy there and there are laughs to be had. But there’s something wrong when the pilot of the show and the second episode both mine the same territory.
Stephen grossly miscalculates which women he might be capable of scoring with. Check.
Wade opens up to a stranger about the demise of his stranger? Check.
Kives is the only one to come out a winner. Check.
Stephen and Jessica end the episode together, purely platonic, yet almost teetering into the romantic. Check.
Granted it’s just two episodes so it is just a sample of the show. Hopefully Stephen and Jessica will remain firmly platonic. And hopefully by the end of the first season, everyone will abandon Stephen because of how he treats them.
I do applaud Hello Ladies on one thing; it’s a strong move to make your lead as unlikable as possible. Stephen is about as unsympathetic as you can get. When he inevitably fails in his endeavors, the feeling isn’t so much “that’s too bad” as “serves him right.” We’ll see what sort of evolution the character takes.
Which brings up a huge flaw in the show; Stephen’s character. It’s never really established how long Stephen’s been in L.A. which makes some of his behavior unrealistic. On one hand, he’s got a business going with employees and he’s got property and a tenant, which indicates he’s been in L. A. for awhile.
But on the other hand he’s completely unaware of which women are out of his league and how the nightlife in L.A. operates. In the two episodes previewed, he’s clearly reaching beyond his grasp. Again, if he were back on the scene after a break up, this might be plausible, but it’s hard to reconcile the established Stephen with the novice Stephen.
My final gripe with Hello Ladies is Kevin Weisman as Kives. I’ve got to believe that there’s an actual paraplegic actor who could have played that role. Kives is purely a supporting character and a character who doesn’t let his disability anchor him. It’s unfortunate that the producers cast an able bodied actor for that part. Unless of course it’s revealed that Kives isn’t paralyzed at all and it’s just a big sham, in which case all would be forgiven. Fingers crossed!
Hello Ladies is no Veep. Nor is it Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s not an HBO show that everyone’s going to be talking about Monday at work. It’s the type of show that you decide to binge-watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon because you’re putting off a home maintenance issue. Hello Ladies is like a bag of Cheetos; it’s mildly enjoyable, but incredibly difficult to champion.