To watch the first two episodes of the new season of TBS’ “My Boys” is to ask how a sitcom that got off to such a congenial start three years ago could fall off its intended objective so wildly. Not that the laffer in which Jordana Spiro plays a sportswriter began as a home run, but now it’s ambling around the bases and toward the creatively disabled list.
Creator Betsy Thomas’ premise about a beautiful woman who prefers to hang with the guys and play poker than shop worked for the most part early on, partly because of Spiro’s good-natured charm. She was radiant but didn’t throw that in anyone’s face, and nobody was intimidated by her looks. Thomas smartly knew in casting Spiro that she was someone audiences wanted to hang with. First-season finale, which took place in Wrigley Field, made one believe that the series had potential.
It’s been all downhill since. While the actress has done her best to soldier on, her friends — both the fellas and gal-pal Stephanie (Kellee Stewart) — have all been stuck with storylines that lack any sense of credibility. Thomas has turned them into lame sitcom caricatures that might be funny at the table read but are so far removed from reality that they’re entering “Arrested Development” territory, minus the intended tongue-in-cheek laughs.
Take Mike (Jamie Kaler) for example. He’s got nothing better to do than be obsessed with a mustache-growing contest in the season opener, and his character has become little more than a writers’ vehicle for lame jokes and dimwitted storylines.
The other supporting actors have been given marginally better material, but the focus needs to stick on P.J. and her balancing act between finding a man without seeming desperate. Thomas seems to have smartly put her sportswriting career on the back-burner and is focused on who is best suited as her romantic partner. Smart, sexy and a woman any half-intelligent guy would sacrifice a year’s pay to have a relationship with, Spiro should be front and center every episode.
The show also continues to underutilize one of its top assets, accomplished stand-up Jim Gaffigan, pigeon-holing him into storylines about his unfulfilled family life, which feels like a tremendous waste. In the second episode, where P.J. and a longtime friend realize a long-smoldering romance has blossomed, their honesty with each other feels much more genuine than any contrived B-story about who can have the biggest ‘stache.