His is a strange perspective, to say the least. When agonizing over what to say in a first text to a girl he met on a train the night before, Josh places himself in a Center for Important Emergencies, where a group of grizzled experts (and his confident lady-killer of a best friend, played by Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23 mainstay Eric Andre) bicker over what’s most likely to warrant a response (his friend’s suggestion of a dick pic gains a cringeworthy amount of traction). The scene is overlong but isn’t without its charms.
In another scene, Josh goes to a party at his ex-girlfriend’s house, only to discover that she’s dating a extremely old Adolf Hitler, who faked his own death decades earlier and has been lying low ever since. “I’m better than Hitler!” Josh finally shouts, only to have his outburst met with scorn from his friends, who see him as the jealous ex. It’s a funny little throwaway line, but hardly a punchline worthy of the lengthy scene that preceded it.
In these early episodes, Man Seeking Woman definitely seems to be struggling to strike a balance between humor and heart. The third installment, “Gavel,” indicates that progress is being made on that front, but even in that episode, wherein Josh is called before a court that accuses him of “boyfriend misconduct” after his ex turns up on his doorstep just hours before a planned date with another woman, some of the jokes fall completely flat.
That’s particularly disappointing given the clear originality on display. Man Seeking Woman is unlike anything else on TV right now, and if it hits its stride in terms of using surrealist comedy to provide insights about something as ubiquitous but complicated as modern dating, it will be a real gem for FXX.
Baruchel excels in the lead role, making Josh believable but still likable, even when “Gavel” sees him acting in a more unsavory manner than in the first two episodes. His nerdy brand of charisma is well-suited to the part, and he’s far and away the most appealing part of Man Seeking Woman in its current form. Erskine, Andre and Lower all get some funny lines, but none of their characters had really made much of an impression by the end of the three provided episodes. This is a showcase for the lead actor, through and through.
Some part of me wants to stick with Man Seeking Woman, because it has the potential to grow into something really fun and special. It doesn’t lack for ambition, that much is for sure. FXX deserves credit for taking a chance on something so weird, but in its current state, Man Seeking Woman just feels like a middling affair, a promising idea that doesn’t really work like it’s supposed to. After some deliberation, I’m swiping left.
Mildly amusing without ever being seriously funny, Man Seeking Woman falls short of the insightful, surrealist look at romance that it strives to be.