Primetime is so overpopulated by petite, model-thin size zeroes it’s refreshing to see a protagonist who isn’t, especially when it’s an ebullient presence like the one Rebel Wilson plays in ABC’s “Super Fun Night.” Yet as inclined as people will likely be to root for Wilson’s character — who spends Friday nights with her two beaten-down, painfully single friends — she finds herself in a vehicle that isn’t as big and buoyant as her personality. Still, ABC was probably wise to bet on the Aussie comic, even if the resulting show is occasionally fun, yes, but far from super.
Adopting a Yankee accent she wears as uncomfortably as a pair of Spanx, Wilson plays Kimmie Boubier, who in the premiere (which both supplants the pilot and, by repeating most of its key points, renders it moot) has just been promoted at work but still spends Fridays hanging out with her two amiable-loser friends: Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira, last seen hanging out with an untrustworthy bitch in Apartment 23) and Marika (Lauren Ash), a tennis coach.
Kimmie has also developed a crush on a co-worker, Richard (Kevin Bishop), who happens to be the boss’ son. Desperate to impress him — and thus exceedingly awkward around him — she runs afoul of the office’s requisite thin bitch (Kate Jenkinson), who also quickly sets her sights on Richard.
In the new opener, Kimmie must also deal with her longstanding stage fright when she and the girls decide to go sing at a karaoke night. It’s a slim conceit, but offers Wilson the chance to cut loose on a rather amusing cover of Meat Loaf’s power ballad “I’d Do Anything for Love.”
The obvious goal is to get the audience rooting for and identifying with Kimmie and her pals, who speak of all the girls who “held us back and made us feel bad about ourselves,” even as they order up “consolation pizzas.” Yet while Wilson’s boisterous personality can’t help but occasionally charm, the material is relatively slight, and having now seen two stabs at establishing the central trio, one fears the idea bank isn’t nearly as deep as it should be.
ABC has certainly given the show a major vote of confidence by positioning it behind “Modern Family,” a timeslot where nothing much has been able to effectively retain that lofty lead-in. Viewed in that light, the expectations shouldn’t be set unreasonably high, which ought to provide “Super Fun Night” a leg up in its quest to ensure there are many more nights — super fun or otherwise — in its future.
If not, well, keep those consolation pizzas handy.