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Really, Ep. 1.01: “Pilot” is funny, but fails at drama

Really, Ep. 1.01: “Pilot” is funny, but fails at drama
Really S01E01

Jay Chandrasekhar, Sarah Chalke

Really, Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Written by Jay Chandrasekhar
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar
Released August 28, 2014 by Amazon

While the Broken Lizard comedy troupe were behind four movies from 1996 to 2006, recent years have seen the group members branching out individually. One particularly prominent member of the group has been Jay Chandrasekhar, who has directed episodes of shows such as Happy Endings, Chuck, and Community. His newest foray into television is the pilot for Really, a show that takes a look at couples and people in various stages of relationships. Looking for a series greenlight, Amazon and the creators have released the pilot online for voting, and it paints the picture of a show that could either be a success or a failure, depending on whether it chooses to focus on its comedic elements or its dramatic ones.

One of the strong points of the show is the cast and the chemistry they have with each other. As the central couple, Jay Chandrasekhar and Sarah Chalke both get an opportunity to display their charm and comedic chops, and are believable in the lighter moments as two people who spend a good amount of time with each other. The pilot also assembles a strong supporting cast, with the likes of Rob Delaney, Luka Jones, Hayes Macarthur, Collette Wolfe, Lindsay Sloane, and Selma Blair also appearing in the pilot. These comedians have all proven themselves on other tv shows and movies, and despite the large ensemble, the pilot does manage to give each castmember a moment to shine. Some of the scenes in the pilot also have an improvisational feel to them, and this doesn’t appear to pose a challenge for any of the castmembers, as they play well off of each other. If this show were to evolve into a hangout sitcom, a possibility that’s not unforeseen based on the pilot, it has the potential to be quite entertaining.

Really s1e1

Luka Jones, Selma Blair

If, however, the show strives to provide an in-depth exploration of relationships, it is bound to fall short. The primary reason for this is that the story the pilot tries to tell feels too predictable, with the central couple dropped in amongst a playboy bachelor, a couple with a cheating spouse, and a couple whose relationship is comprised of more bitterness and hate than love. The idea of couples such as these have been explored in various forms of media, and while it’s possible that Really will provide its own perspective on such matters, the pilot gives no indication of any originality in its exploration. In addition, the show’s lack of diversity also makes for a very limited view of relationships. With Jay Chandrasekhar presenting the only non-white member f the cast, and the four primary couples all being outwardly heterosexual, the odds of the show’s exploration of relationships breaking new ground or taking on newfound issues appears very low. But perhaps the pilot’s biggest issue is that the dramatic moments fail to land with the same impact as its comedic ones. Chandrasekhar’s writing displays a comedic ability that doesn’t carry over to the dramatic side of the pilot, further diminishing an aspect of the show that already has two strikes against it. Going down this route threatens to make the show unenjoyable.

What the show chooses to focus on after the pilot will thus play a large role in determining what kind of series it becomes. The ensemble group provides a lot of comedic potential, particularly if the show chooses to explore the dynamic that results from different pairings, rather than keeping the characters restricted to their own relationships. In addition, the show can also discover the comedic potential from putting the characters in unfamiliar surroundings, as is hinted at in the pilot. The chemistry amongst the group provides some of the most entertaining moments of the pilot, and elevating the material slightly would do wonders, especially given the cast, but is not a necessity. The show might be capable of effectively portraying serious relationship-oriented issues, if it were to move away from the cliché problems that have been seen before towards little-seen issues. Even if it were to mismanage the handling of such issues, it would be worth seeing an exploration of them, moreso than it would to see another exploration of the issues laid out in the pilot.If the show decides to give the performers free reign to be funny, or gives them ample opportunity via the script, it will become a show worth watching, and it would be nice to see the series get the green light from Amazon just to see what path it chooses to take.

– Deepayan Sengupta

The full set of reviews for Amazon’s third wave of pilots can be found here.

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