What do you get when you combine an extremely tall Englishman with a depressing wingman, an aspiring actress and a man in a wheelchair? You get the cast of HBO’s new comedy ‘Hello Ladies.’
I recently screened the first two episodes of the freshman series, and having never heard of the comedy, I was pleasantly surprised.
The series stars Stephen Merchant (Emmy-award winning executive producer of ‘The Office’) in his first lead comedy role, as a desperate web designer named Stuart Pritchard who hails from England. Not only is Stuart trying to intertwine his life with the most glamorous people of Los Angeles, but he also makes it his life’s goal to meet, score and fall in love with the most beautiful ladies of L.A. FYI, Merchant also serves as writer, producer, director and co-creator of the series.
Not to play off of ‘The Office’ too much, but Stuart reminds me of Michael Scott. He’s so desperate to fit in and fall in love, he’ll go to all kinds of extremes to meet “Mrs. Right” or “Mrs. Right Now.” From riding around the city in a limo picking up random women, which he’s convinced is his ticket into the most prestigious clubs, to going out and buying a group of about 50 people drinks, Stuart goes to the ends of the Earth to convince ladies -- and himself -- that he’s worthy of a date or a one-night stand.
Not only does Stuart provide some cringe-worthy moments (yes, at one point I had to cover my eyes, because I was so embarrassed for the gawky man), but he also resembles every jerk that some women are attracted to. Don’t get me wrong, he’s hilarious and likeable, but he's selfish and degrading.
For example, what kind of person attempts to blow off his friend/wingman, Wade (Nate Torrence, ‘Mr. Sunshine’), who is going through an awful and depressing separation from his wife of 11 years to go meet a girl who has no interest in him? Stuart, that’s who.
Both Stuart and Wade need all the help they can get. Enter Kives (Kevin Weisman, ‘Alias’), who embraces his disability of being in a wheelchair and uses it to his advantage to meet ladies. He’s a regular Don Juan, who also likes to play a cruder version of the game “Marry, Shag, Kill,” and he and the game are actually a hit with women.
The only sane one of the group, but still flawed, is Jessica (Christine Woods, ‘FlashForward’). She is Stuart’s tenant and an unsuccessful actress/web-series writer and director who is trying to make it in Hollywood.
At times, Jessica is Stuart’s “conscience,” but they’re actually alike in more ways than one. She too also tries very hard to find her place in the world. Do I sense a potential romance brewing? Side note: does anyone else think Woods resembles Ginnifer Goodwin?
This might not sound like your type of show, and that’s fine, but if men can take anything away from the comedy, it’s this: mentioning abortion, an ex-wife, and suicide is no way to pick up a lady. Yes, that’s all brought up within the first five minutes of the pilot.
From the very first line, ‘Hello ladies,’ to the end of the episode, I think Merchant’s creation has great potential to become the next big TV comedy.
‘Hello Ladies’ debuts Sunday, Sept. 29 on HBO.