Mar 19, 2015

TV Retrospective: "Man Seeking Woman" - Season 1

There's a lot of compelling factors that make up Man Seeking Woman. For starters, it is FXX's first original program and is Jay Baruchel's return to TV for the first time since Undeclared. However, beyond the basic hype, the series was one of the most abstract and wonderfully confusing series to have aired so far in 2015. It was a relationship comedy that borrowed more from sci-fi than realism and created stories that in a perfect world would emphasize some deeper commentary about relationships. As it stands, the series successfully managed to make an impression and get people to watch an episode where a supporting character was a monster with multiple phallic fingers. It is a baffling show and one that is hard to put in any corner. It is why the show is pretty great at times but mostly just a really weird artistic statement.
Baruchel plays Josh, who is a 20-something and is in need of finding a new girlfriend after losing his previous one. As any other show will tell you, it is a ridiculous journey and one full of awkward situations. The difference between those and this is that Josh is pitted into a world that illustrates the dating world problems with more fantastical embodiment. There's aliens who want sex, conjoining twins and even time travel. These are all facets of Josh's mind in ways that are immediately clear to those wishing to tear apart metaphors. Beyond the crass jokes lies a deeper message about relationships and how disturbing they actually can be to those who don't quite know how to navigate the world.
Along the way, Josh is helped by his friend Mike (Eric Andre) and sister Liz (Britt Lower). They offer him advice, set him up on dates and put the world in motion. They are his main follies as he puts himself into bumbling situation after bumbling situation. Very few of them work and serve as interesting studies of the ideals of people. They are strange and in some ways cloud views. This is what makes Man Seeking Woman a particularly unique show in that it manages to turn such things as finding out you're inferior because your friend has hypnotic eyes that lures in women into something profound. 
The only issue beyond that is that maybe the show is a little too highbrow for what ends up happening. For fans of sci-fi, the alien jokes may sustain interest. However, there's too many gross-out gags such as trolls and creatures with phallic fingers who populate the universe. It is bizarre and distracting at times. Baruchel's performance doesn't help much either, especially since he is too nice. The gross moments just make you pity Josh more and at times it's too much. At best, these are great ideas thrown at a wall and make for an interesting study, though not necessarily a great comedy.
There is something that could be said with the fact that "Woman Seeking Man" is the fan favorite of the 10 episodes. For starters, it focuses on Liz and goes into a slightly different direction. Instead of putting Josh against a wall of disgusting-looking obstacles, Liz is forced to deal with her single nature through little girls berating her and making a Frankenstein-esque boyfriend... who is gay. There is heart in the absurdity that Josh unfortunately doesn't have. He is too much of a schmuck to get the love that Liz gets when she struggles. It isn't that Josh isn't an interesting character, but his stories just are a little too uncomfortable at times.
Man Seeking Woman is by no means a bad show. In fact, it should be applauded that Baruchel managed to create something so unique. However, it does have almost a too niche of a market to really work anywhere but on FXX. It serves as a compelling looking into romance in your 20's in ways that few, if any, other shows can capture. If anything, its alien nature manages to make the commentary more profound despite being occasionally off putting. Still, it is hard to watch this show and not admire the craft more than the humor that went into proving that a sitcom can indeed be artful, even if it doesn't always connect.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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