Refreshing in its silliness as well as its commitment to offend, “Man Seeking Woman” crams a lot into each half-hour episode, sometimes to its detriment. On the whole, though, this FXX comedy (a castoff from its flagship network), culled from author-creator Simon Rich’s short stories, departs from many of today’s more-admired comedies in its steadfast determination to be funny, incorporating wild, cartoon-like flights of fancy into the narrative. Not everything works, but the previewed episodes again establish this as a series with a singular vision, elevating the indignities of dating to an epic level.
Comparisons to early Woody Allen remain inevitable, especially with the way Jay Baruchel plays the perpetually flustered, inordinately imaginative Josh, who, in the first season, was the only one in his circle bothered by the fact that his ex-girlfriend was dating Hitler (yes, that Hitler). The new campaign opens with Josh actually having a girlfriend, much to the chagrin of his pal Mike (Eric Andre), who enlists a team of attorneys to negotiate the terms regarding when the two can hang out and smoke pot together.
So it goes, with “Man” regularly escaping into the surreal, from Josh’s relationship with a talking condom to delivering a TED talk on masturbation to, in a later episode, developing a crush on a woman at work who seems perfect for him, only to discover that her boyfriend walks on water.
Even FX’s comedies have a tendency to be immersed in darkness, so the sense of whimsy built into this show is welcome. And like Seth MacFarlane’s animated fare, the rapid-fire nature of gags is such that if one falls flat – such as Josh’s unfortunately close relationship with a car (don’t ask) – be patient, another will be along momentarily.
Notably, other than Mike, and to a minimal degree Josh’s sister (Britt Lower), “Man Seeking Woman” operates without the obligatory support system – the customary assortment of by-the-numbers eccentric friends that populate so many similarly targeted sitcoms. That puts more of the onus on Baruchel, but also allows for detours into the bizarre.
The series returns paired with “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” another show that has always been proudly juvenile. “Man” is too flimsy a construct to rival that show’s longevity or provoke true love, but in terms of seeking a connection with a sitcom, there’s plenty here to like.