2015 is only two weeks old, but it’s not much of a stretch to say that “Man Seeking Woman” will be one of the most, let’s say distinctive, shows of the year.
It’s not just any show, after all, that has the lead character’s (Jay Baurchel) ex-girlfriend take up with Hitler after they break up. Not a metaphorical Hitler, either — actual, 126-year-old Adolf Hitler, who apparently has been living in South America for the past 70 years. Nor does your average rom-com have the lead’s sister (Britt Lower) set him up on a blind date with a troll. Again, not a metaphorical troll, but a green-skinned, garbage-eating, lives-under-a-bridge troll.
That’s just part of Wednesday’s (Jan. 14) premiere, by the way.
The series, from creator Simon Rich, tries to pull off the trick (to varying degrees of success) of keeping Josh’s (Baruchel) character emotionally grounded while veering deep into absurdist territory. To prepare for the world of “Man Seeking Woman,” it might be helpful to take the following steps.
Read Rich’s short-story collection ‘The Last Girlfriend on Earth’
A few of Rich’s stories are incorporated into the series, but the original scripts are infused with much the same sensibility. (Here’s an excerpt.)
Watch some old ‘Undeclared’ episodes
Josh has experience more than Steven Karp, Baruchel’s “Undeclared” character, but they share the same combination of hopefulness, nerves and fatalism that help balance out the strangeness around them.
Steel yourself for another misogynist dudebro
Eric Andre is a wonderful comedic actor, but his character here strikes something of a false note. His Mike dispenses predictably bad dating advice and is predictably very angry when Josh admits he wants a relationship. Mike has his moments, but the character needs some work.
Keep your eyes out
The show’s casting of guest stars is on point. An unrecognizable Bill Hader is Hitler in the premiere; you’ll also see “Saturday Night Live’s” Vanessa Bayer and “Battlestar Galactica’s” Michael Hogan in early episodes, each playing roles that fit them to a T.
Stick with it
The first three episodes are a little uneven, and the flights of fancy may not be for everyone, but Baruchel manages to keep “Man Seeking Woman” in a real emotional place despite all the bells and whistles. There’s an undercurrent of sadness to the show that evens out the weirdness and makes it worth staying around.
“Man Seeking Woman” premieres at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT Wednesday on FXX.