by Matthew Thompson
If you like it weird, Man Seeking Woman is for you. The only thing on TV I can think of to compare it to are animated programs and in some ways FXX’s new absurdist comedy feels like a live-action cartoon. It hones in on the dating life of the newly single Josh Greenberg played by Jay Baruchel, but the scenarios he runs into while looking for love are a far cry from what you have come to expect from similarly slanted television programs. This means a date with an actual troll, Josh’s hand (voiced by Sarah Silverman) questioning the lack of spark in their masturbatory relationship, and meeting his ex’s new guy, a 120-some year-old Adolf Hitler. How is all this possible? Well you could certainly see it as watching it play out through Greenberg’s mind’s eye. Like President Obama isn’t actually congratulating him on getting a girl’s number, but that is how big the moment feels for Josh. Still after three episodes it feels like it is best not to try to apply too much logic to this and instead just enjoy the ride. It may even be more fun to just try to take it all at face value despite how ridiculous it may seem.
Man Seeking Woman is based on a book of short stories by the series creator Simon Rich and you can kind of tell. While there is one serialized narrative playing out here, each act between commercials feels like a skit (or short story) of its own. I feel this works in the show’s favor. Not all of these work. For example, I found the actual date that ended the second episode to be a complete miss. On the other hand, the segment that preceded it was my favorite of the show so far. It starts out fairly normal as Josh consults his friend and sister on what to text the girl he recently met, but it ends in a scene right out of a military film with them all in a war room complete with generals all chiming in with input on the matter. Not only is it hilarious, but it is relatable. I, like many, have puzzled over the perfect text to send and have even been on the consulting end when trying to help a friend find just the right words to type in. This brings me back to why I think the format and structure of the Man Seeking Woman is such a boon for the show. Even when one bit falls flat, there is hope that lying in wait beyond the next commercial break there is one that will hit all the right notes. And despite the absurd lens the show views these scenarios through, they are based around realistic situations, so you (or at least the male audience) are sure to find something to relate to whether it be with Greenberg or his much more confident best friend Mike played by Eric André.
I was planning to do a set of pilot mini-reviews for January like I did in the Fall, but looking back Man Seeking Woman is the only one I’d really recommend. Its structure means it can be rather inconsistent. I’ve found just as many bits groan-worthy as I have found uproarious with a few more lying somewhere in between. This up and down nature might make for a middling effort overall, but the uniqueness of this series makes it feel like much more. This means it is worth getting through Man Seeking Woman‘s lower moments to experience its high points which can be quite high. It’s also probably worth a look just to see the weirdest live-action sitcom on TV. You can catch it Wednesdays at 10:30 Eastern on FXX.