There’s no better way to put it, post-college dating sucks. Between the self-doubt and losing that promise of meeting people that college provides, you quickly become your own worst dating-enemy…so you turn to the comfort of TV.
The problem with most rom-com shows is that they over-simplify this struggle. In real life, there’s no perfect girl sitting at the bar just waiting to be chatted up or constant stream of attractive women for the charming dork to choose from (I’m looking at you, Ted Mosby). In real life, it’s more about disappointment, bad first dates, and lonely nights.
And FXX’s new comedy Man Seeking Woman seems to get that.
Man Seeking Woman takes a look deep inside the mind of that newly single, thrown-to-the-wolves dater. Following quintessential everyman Jay Baruchel playing the heartbroken Josh after being dumped by his college sweetheart, the series uses a blend of surrealism and stark reality to examine the monotonous, hilarious and painful life of the 21st century single.
The show was created by wunderkind Simon Rich, who at 30-years-old is one of comedy’s rising stars. The series is based on his collection of short stories titled, The Last Girlfriend on Earth. Because of Rich’s youth, the show feels like it was written by a peer who truly gets what it’s like to try to break into the post-grad dating world rather than an older writer trying to understand this generation’s struggles.
And that’s where the show’s heart lies: in the ability to make the millennial viewer groan and say, “I’ve been there.”
Relationship comedies are tough because pretty much every storyline, shot and joke has been done already. But aside from its relatable appeal, Man Seeking Woman sets itself apart by using the surreal to amplify the mundane, well-worn tropes of the genre while also being damn funny.
For example, in the pilot, Josh attends a party hosted by his ex. He is eager to win her back, until he is told that she already has a new boyfriend. This isn’t a unique or new storyline – but the plot twist here comes when Josh meets the new boyfriend…and he’s Adolf Hitler. Not a jerk who reminds Josh of Hitler but the actual, wheelchair-bound, 125-year-old former leader of the Nazi party. Josh (whose last name is Greenburg, adding another layer to the entire story) spends the rest of the party baffled as the rest of the guests don’t seem to notice or care that the love of his life’s new man is the worst human being to have ever existed.
While the first episode introduces the element of absurdity, the second episode is where the show finds its footing and voice, the perfect example being a truly great scene in which the show’s heart and humor come through. As Josh worries about what to text a girl he met earlier in the day, he retreats to a Dr. Stranglove-type bunker where he’s surrounded by generals and scientists as they debate using an emoji or simply sending her a risqué picture.
It is such a ridiculous premise and yet one that resonates loudly with its audience. Who hasn’t gone through fifteen different drafts of a text message bound for a potential new mate only to click send and spend the next hour pacing, waiting for the phone to buzz?
Whether it’s seeing Vincent Chase pulling models in Entourage or Stephen Merchant’s Stuart embarrass himself while chasing models in Hello Ladies, TV shows usually offer us characters who are extreme. But Man Seeking Woman toes a delicate line by speaking to the viewer directly, our shared insecurities, failures and hopes.
Man Seeking Woman is for people seeking love who aren’t either one of the attractive Vince Chase-type playboy or the Stuart-type perpetual loser. Josh, like most of us, is just a normal person struggling to make sense of a type of human interaction that can seem as confusing and nonsensical as your ex-girlfriend literally dating Hitler.
Josh is you, he’s me, and it works.