Down Dog is a show made to appeal to 13-year-old boys or anyone that decides what shows to watch based on their Mr. Skin rating. Taking up the mantle of sex-driven shows like Californication and Hung, this new Amazon Original Pilot doesn’t even have the decency or creativity to at least provide its audiences with an intriguing, conflicted protagonist like David Duchovny’s Hank Moody. Instead, Down Dog follows Logan Wood (former One Life to Live actor Josh Casaubon), the son of cannabis farmers, and a permanently relaxed, willfully stupid, painfully handsome yoga instructor who co-owns the studio in which he teaches.
His co-owner and girlfriend of nearly 3 years, Amanda (Paget Brewster), is a former LA studio exec that quit to open Heartspace, which she manages while Logan leads classes. For the majority of Down Dog’s pilot, she is seen on the other end of a phone. By the middle of the episode when she’s decided to end the relationship over the lack of an engagement, the couple hasn’t yet been shown in a room together, apart from a flashback to their meetfuck.
This breakup barely registers with Logan, whose version of putting up a fight amounts to saying “Babe” twice then shaking it off with an aw-shucks grin. Their breakup and subsequent squabbling forces Logan to assume leadership responsibility at Heartspace. This leaves the remaining employees to panic at the prospect of Logan running things, and rightly so. Nearly 20 minutes in, when Logan makes his first cogent point about being the yoga studio’s “draw,” the idea that he’s deduced anything at all feels ludicrous.
Outside of the mostly female clientele at Heartspace lusting over their sexy yoga instructor, Winter (Lyndsy Fonseca), a frenetic, drug-abusing, consistently tardy instructor at the studio, is also drawn to Logan. After he initially refutes her advances, they have sex in the shower with the door wide open while co-workers are still present. Seemingly, the only reason for them to have sex is that Logan is too much of an ineffectual patsy to say no. If Logan is doing this as a response to his recent breakup as the story would seem to suggest, Down Dog star Casaubon has trouble indicating it. The choice to play Logan as a nonplussed dunce might be an intentional one, but the result creates an expressionless character too unaffected by his own story for an audience to want to care.
Aiming to satirize the Los Angeles yogi community, Down Dog confuses portraying its characters as crazy, dumb, or annoying for the skewering of a subculture. The closest the show comes to satire is in its tired, recycled suggestion that all women fantasize about sleeping with the hot yoga guy. Like any other mildly clever gag in the pilot for Down Dog, the ideas have been done before and better elsewhere.
Much of the background details are described with inappropriate grandiosity by the show’s odd, underwritten Tom Kane voiceover. It’s with the Narrator that Down Dog reveals several of the show’s weaknesses, notably its clumsiness in storytelling and lack of cleverness. One particular cut from Logan and Amanda first meeting to them mid-coitus is underscored with the line, “At the time she was the head of business affairs for a Hollywood studio, but she was looking for a change.” This is so pointlessly vague and lazy that you almost want the narrator to blurt out, “Of clothes!” just so it has the semblance of a punchline. But this bit of narration is emblematic of Down Dog’s shortcomings as both a comedy and a coherent narrative; it’s too in love with its central premise to bother with logic.