Idiotsitter, Season 1
Created by Charlotte Newhouse and Jillian Bell
Premieres Thursday, January 14th at 10:30 pm ET on Comedy Central
One episode watched for review
Comedy Central has, over the years, become home to a number of talented comedians and offbeat shows, making their slate always one to look out for. One of their particular skills has been finding talented stars and writers of webseries and giving them a bigger platform, and it is from the latter that their new series Idiotsitter emerges. The brainchild of comedians Charlotte Newhouse and Jillian Bell, the series thrives on strong comedic performances, and shows a lot of potential depending on how well it can navigate the trickiness of its central conceit.
Idiotsitter‘s key strength in the pilot is in its performances. Charlotte Newhouse, who is the co-lead of the show alongside Jillian Bell, does some hilarious work with the role of a frazzled woman trying to make sense of her circumstances, a role that could have felt weary or one-note in the wrong hands. Bell, while given less to do, also turns in a strong performance that bodes well for a hopefully expanded role going forward, managing to give the character’s few dramatic moments some emotional heft while not losing sight of retaining the show’s comic elements. Most importantly, however, Newhouse and Bell work excellently together. The duo, much like the co-stars of fellow Comedy Central series Broad City and the now-cancelled Big Time in Hollywood, FL, have wonderful chemistry and bounce off each other in a way that elevates the entertainment of the writing. The good casting, however, doesn’t stop with the show creators. Both Stephen Root and Jennifer Elise Cox fit right into the show’s atmosphere, playing well off of both Newhouse and Bell, and Steve Berg’s Chet coming off as a weak link is less an indictment against the show, and more a credit to the strength of the other performers. The pilot also indicates a deep bench of potentially recurring hilarious characters who hold their own in their brief screentimes, which is not only promising for future episodes, but indicates a focus on fleshing out the larger universe of the show that’s also encouraging.
The show, however, sets itself up to walk a very fine line due to its premise. The idea of having Bell as a rich party animal who has a warped sense of morality at best, which is what the show presents, is a tricky proposition to show, because it puts the series in a position of displaying the actions Bell’s character Gene and her friends undertake as result without actually condoning them. The pilot itself already treads into one such thorny storyline, fortunately managing to navigate it well, primarily due to giving the viewpoint of Newhouse’s Billie equal weight to that of Gene, if not more. Going forward, the writers are going to have to make sure they thread that needle carefully, not only with Billie and Gene, but with the secondary characters as well. If the writers manage to show debauchery and questionable moral choices and point out the issues with them while still finding comedy in the resulting scenarios, as they manage to do in the pilot, then the show will be entertaining without any caveats. If, however, they slip and end up endorsing the behaviour of Gene or her friends, the show could end up going off the rails. The pilot manages to show different nuances to the main characters, not elevating one over the other, which is a good sign that the writers are capable of walking this fine line.
Overall, however, the show is one that’s definitely worth keeping up with. The location in which the show is filmed allows for some uncharacteristically picturesque shots, and even the interior shots have a polished feel to them that makes the show’s look a somewhat memorable one. The humour is kept very much intact from the webseries of the same name that the duo created, and most of the cast is similarly also present, the only notable exception being TJ Miller’s absence as Chet. As mentioned earlier, Steve Berg doesn’t manage to integrate as seamlessly into the cast as Miller did, and it’s regrettable that the latter was unable to join this series, but hopefully Berg can find his feet and be a valuable addition to the cast going forward. While the premise is not a weak one, it is simply a framework, and what direction the writers decide to take the characters and show will be interesting to see, as it opens the possibility of both episodic storylines or a more serialised plot, or simply a focus on the two leads, either of which would work well. Idiotsitter has all the makings of being, at the very least, a highly enjoyable series, and hopefully it realises that potential over the course of the season.