This article contains information that could be considered too revealing according to our spoiler policy. Proceed with caution. You can't unsee it!Reason Because we got a screener for the first two episodes, this piece contains some minor plot spoilers.
Should You Seek Out Man Seeking Woman?
Jay Baruchel plays the latest beta male sitcom protagonist to show us how hard it is to deal with girls. Should you swipe left?
What Is This Thing?
When Josh Greenberg gets dumped by his longtime girlfriend Maggie, everyone from his dirtbag best friend Mike to his stern Type A sister Liz do what they can to advise him on lining up his next special lady. But dating is hard for everyone, and even harder if your existence could be filed under "sci-fi/fantasy," as Josh's could.
When Is It On?
Wednesdays at 10:30 PM on FXX.
Why Was It Made Now?
Because even though We Are Men and Hello Ladies didn't work, TV still can't help trying to bring back Entourage in some form or other, somehow. And since the Entourage movie still hasn't hit, this can sneak into the gap.
What's Its Pedigree?
Simon Rich -- of Saturday Night Live's writing staff, this in/famous New Yorker humour essay, and being Frank Rich's son -- adapted the series from his own book of short fiction. It stars Jay Baruchel (This Is The End, Goon) as Josh; Eric André (The Eric André Show) as Mike; and sketch-comedy luminaries Mark McKinney (Kids In The Hall) and Robin Duke (SNL) as Josh's parents. Also on board as episode director is Jonathan Krisel, best known for his work on Portlandia.
As a Canadian, I'm legally required to claim Jay Baruchel as one of our own, but I've really always liked him, going all the way back to Undeclared. If you liked that show, actually, you'll like this one too: like Undeclared's Steven, Josh is awkward in general and beleaguered by women in particular. It's easy to imagine Josh is just a post-grad Steven, marginally employed as a temp, dutifully making his way through a belated catch-up on Carnivàle.
I also give Rich credit for the fantasy elements that distinguish the series from other shows in the "bros hounding pussy" category. Unlike Scrubs, for instance, which rested heavily on cutaways to J.D.'s flights of fancy, MSW takes a straightforward approach to portraying its fantastical features: it's really raining on Josh alone, and Liz really takes the afternoon off work (in the second episode) to be part of a war council advising Josh as to what should be his first-ever text to the girl whose number he got on the El, inasmuch as anything on a scripted TV show is really happening, which is to say, it's all artificial everywhere -- this show just makes that an explicit style choice.
As a Canadian, I couldn't help noticing how very, very Toronto-y Josh's "Chicago" looks! Canadians can always tell when something's filmed on their soil because every tertiary character and maybe even a lead is played by a Canadian, which is true here as well. Baruchel and McKinney are fairly well known as Canadians, but there's also Duke (from my adopted hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario) and Battlestar Galactica's Michael "Saul Tigh" Hogan. I guess I can forgive a TTC station from standing in for a Chicago El station since no one in America knows what Toronto's subway actually looks like, but by the time a shot from Josh's apartment shows this book about the Eatons...
...I couldn't help getting annoyed by how little the show was trying to mask its Canadianosity. "That's a crazy thing to notice in a split-second shot." Doesn't change the fact that I did notice it! Either just set it in Canada or take a pass at the location resident's library.
However, the bigger problem with Man Seeking Woman is its level of discourse on the matter of sexual politics. Which is low and verging on misogynistic. Sure, this is a magical-realist setting. But it's also the case that we're seeing this setting through Josh's perspective, and it doesn't speak well of him as a character that his first post-Maggie blind date Gorbachenka, as chosen by his sister, is an actual troll, or that Maggie's first post-Josh boyfriend is actual Hitler. Even Laura, the cute train girl, suddenly turns "crazy" for no reason we can discern, insisting that they split the cheque on their first and presumably only date. Liz gets a scene (which I've seen a thousand times thanks to the promos that run during FXX's Parks & Recreation reruns) in which she tries to give Josh some context for his own desirability, or lack thereof, to the opposite sex, reminding him that he doesn't work out and is a temp. But Josh thinks he has claims on a better calibre of woman than he's getting, and given the dates we see him go on in these first two episodes, it seems like the show agrees that all the available women in his orbit are either nuts or disgusting.
Honestly, I'd be a lot more interested in a show from Gorbachenka's point of view.
The press kit says this is a ten-episode series, but instead of spending that time here, I advise that you just watch Baruchel in Goon a couple more times instead.