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“My Boys”: Time to retrench

TBS sitcom “My Boys” has always seemed to have former HBO perennial “Sex in the City” in its blood – the key difference being that instead of surrounding its romance-challenged female protagonist with women, “My Boys” envelops Jordana Spiro mostly in the less fair sex.

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Monday night, “Boys” made the comparison much more overt with an episode entitled “Douchebag in the City” – and in doing so, showed the increasing struggle the show is having in living up to its ancestor. The episode had P.J.visited by a long-lost college pal and her three travel companions – all of whom were obnoxious, nuance-free imitations of the “Sex” characters portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon.

The theme was that, sometimes, old friends grow so far apart that essentially, you need to fire them. Perhaps, on a meta-level, this was an attempt by “Boys” to pry itself free from “Sex” comparisons.

Instead, the show might want to try harder to emulate “Sex,” before it’s too late. Rather then nurture any meaningful character development out of P.J. and friends, “Boys” has settled for thrusting situations upon them – some of them as unrewardingly bizarre as this most recent attempt to turn the “Sex” characters into idiotic caricatures: one- dimensional tools to illustrate a theme. If you’re as clever as “The Simpsons” was at its best, no harm done if you return your characters to status quo at the end of each episode.

Suffice it to say, the jokes on “Boys” don’t come flying one after another. So, for a show that at its heart is an urban survival guide for singles, like “Sex,” the last thing “Boys” should be doing is turning actors into cartoons.With Parker’s omnipresent voiceover, “Sex” made no secret of its attempt to explore themes in its own stories, but it didn’t sacrifice character in the process.

“My Boys” began its life on TBS with potential based on its premise and good chemistry among its cast, reaching a high point with a joyride of a first-season finale. However, season two has left TBS with a series that has lost sight of what works and what doesn’t.

Having plateaued in the ratings with about 1 million viewers a week, “Boys” could do worse than embrace “Sex” rather than running away from it.

— Jon Weisman

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