Man Seeking Woman s1 transcends its premise in humorous fashion

Jay Baruchel, Eric André
Jay Baruchel, Eric André

Man Seeking Woman
Airs Wednesdays at 10:30 pm ET on FXX, starting January 14

The beginning of the television midseason brings with it a number of new shows, and the prospect of adding another series to one’s viewing schedule can often be a daunting one. While half-hour comedic shows offer less of a time commitment, they also face the same hurdle. Fortunately, the new FXX show Man Seeking Woman, which follows the trials and tribulations of Josh Greenberg as he navigates the world of dating, proves itself worthy of an audience right away, setting itself apart by willfully steering itself into fantasy while showing the ability to develop into something more.

While the premise of the show is one that is not uncommon in the tv landscape, where Man Seeking Woman excels is in its execution. The show manages to walk a fine line between not treating Josh’s dating troubles as earth-shattering, while also not belittling his feelings in the process. Instead, the show’s dive into absurd fantasy sequences serves to help the audience get a better glimpse into Josh’s viewpoint, and the interactions he has with others in such sequences helps viewers better understand the relationship he has with them. The turns into fantasy also serve to provide an organic look into Josh’s mindset in any given situation. In the process, these sequences help the writers explore the characters and relationships in an innovative new fashion. It doesn’t hurt that the sequences themselves are quite imaginative and funny on their own, and show no limit to what the writers are willing to throw the characters into. This also adds a level of unpredictability to the show that nicely counterbalances the storylines.

In addition to the show’s willingness to dive into fun fantasy scenes, the writers don’t give their lead character a pass on his decisions, or turn them around to put him in the right all the time. Instead, the show is more than willing to follow Josh through on his bad ideas, even as he flails to justify them, or powerlessly watches things go wrong. Man Seeking Woman‘s willingness to let Josh be a fully realised character, who makes mistakes as often as he’s misunderstood, works heavily in the show’s favour, allowing some leeway for the direction any particular plotline can go into. Even in situations where Josh appears to be in the right, the show doesn’t pave the way for an easy victory for the character, all of which adds to its enjoyment.

Which is not to say that the show doesn’t have its flaws. While the show’s treatment of the characters and the situations they find themselves in is unique, there’s not much to separate the characters themselves from those seen on numerous other shows. The supporting cast is also largely under-utilised at the beginning of the show, with the comedically talented Eric André suffering from both issues, as he ends up stuck in the role of womanising best friend who isn’t given much to do, though he does steal scenes on occasion. Jay Baruchel, however, is very well-cast as the lead, managing to sell the character’s haplessness at any given situation while still portraying Josh as a self-sufficient and somewhat mature individual. Britt Lower is also particularly entertaining as Josh’s sister Liz in their brief interactions, as is Maya Erskine in the role of Josh’s ex-girlfriend Maggie, working with the writers to turn what could have been a thankless part into another one of the show’s strengths. The show can only benefit from letting the supporting cast drive the story, and hints at the possibility of this as the season progresses, with both Lower’s Liz and André’s Mike getting an opportunity to do so in the first few episodes. Overall, the show displays a lot of promise, and the fantasy sequences alone are entertaining enough to tune in for, with the show’s other strong aspects a pleasant bonus.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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