Living Single” has found a comfortable pace with its four-women-down two-guys-up in a Brooklyn co-op formula. Now that the characters are familiar, sexual tensions established, and punch lines anticipated, the producers are finding new plots by taking Khadijah, Regine, Maxine and Synclaire out of the nest.
While it’s not a surprising device in the sophomore season, once outside the circle of six, the fresh dialogue and snappy insults that power the relationships vanish and the writing leaves characters ripping off flat one-liners.
In this seg, writers Jennie Ayers and Susan Sebastian trade the show’s best commodity to try to come up with new plotlines.
Episode centers on Synclaire (Kim Coles) and her aspiration to act. She is offered a part in a community theater play, but is torn when rewrites demand she appear nude. She goes to the girls for advice, but gets little more than quips.
The writers and producers best handle the issue in scenes between Overton (John Henton) and Synclaire, who are now a steady couple. While he is aghast at the thought of “every Tom, Dick and Rajeem” seeing her “special gifts,” he refuses to help because he’s sure he will be blamed for whatever he decides.
Pretty typical relationship stuff here, but this sugar-sweet coupling is so likable, any lack of nuance is forgiven.
However, what is not forgiven is the subplot involving Khadijah (Queen Latifah) chasing down rappers Naughty by Nature (who appear as themselves) for the cover of her magazine, Flavor. The group’s screen time is short-lived and thin because they apparently can’t act; it’s a huge tease that never delivers. Peripheral characters in the episode have little to offer.
Piece moves quickly under the direction of John Bowab, but the actors sometimes look self-conscious with the awkward one-liners. The seg’s uninspired writing leaves one wishing they had all stayed home and a new hunky guy had stopped over to borrow a wrench.
Best aspects of the show are the chemistry of the six, the warm apartment setting and the fun, often physical, humor. Within these confines, characters let their hair down and find new heights of ridicule, insult and, every so often , tenderness.