Inasmuch as “It’s Like, You Know …” is the ultimate goof on Los Angeles and its stereotypical idiot culture, the ABC midseason show created by ex-“Seinfeld” producer Peter Mehlman may just set viewing records in New York City. Reducing L.A. to the equivalent of a vast Club Med for the freshly lobotomized, the comedy’s shallow Seinfeld-ians paint Angelenos as so many Evian-sipping, platitude-spouting, minutiae-yammering, horn-honking, money-loving, tan-seeking, angst-riddled, surgically enhanced, self-obsessed bubbleheads. It’s a scathingly irreverent half-hour that already smells like a midseason hit.
Forget for a moment that the deliriously nutty group of slackers and neurotics who populate the perfectly named “It’s Like, You Know …” exist mostly in the imagination of Mehlman, who penned the opening episode. If the characters are miles over the top, their low relatability quotient is more than compensated for by the blisteringly paced, sharply delivered dialogue that sometimes borrows as much from “Moonlighting” as from “Seinfeld.”
Mehlman and his exec-producing partner, Ted Harbert — the ex-ABC Entertainment chieftain now working as a producer for DreamWorks — have crafted themselves a truly distinctive piece of cultural satire that goes beyond mere spoof to approach theater-of-the-absurd territory.
While jokes about L.A. vapidity and pretension have surely grown tired, the series stands nonetheless as being quite the opposite — fresh, energetic and undeniably, consistently clever. Even as you swear you have never met anyone, or anything, like these dorks, it’s difficult not to laugh at what comes out of their mouths.
The comedy opens with snobby New York journalist and confirmed L.A.-phobe Arthur (Chris Eigeman) flying out to the City of Angels to spend two months researching a book on hating L.A. Sitting beside him on the plane is Lauren (A.J. Langer), a chronically adorable masseuse who doubles as a process server, just because she can.
Arthur is staying in L.A. with his onetime college roomie Robbie (Steven Eckholdt), a Big Apple transplant himself who has made it big in La-La Land by backing a pay-per-view scheme that allowed Jewish citizens to watch the High Holy Day services from the comfort of their own living room synagogue. The name? Why, “Pay-Per-Jew,” of course. So now the blow-dried Robbie spends his days tooling around town, quaffing H2O and ruminating with his pal Shrug (Evan Handler) over such show-about-nothing tidbits as why the letter Q comes before R, S and T in the alphabet.
Shrug is a piece of work all his own. He’s prematurely bald (as in no hair at all), he’s wealthy, he spends a lot of time crinkling his face into a frown and he tells people he works at a $2,000-an-hour job in a bookstore. This may come as a surprise to New Yorkers unaware that any retailer in L.A. even sells books.
Last, but far from least, there is “Dirty Dancing’s” Jennifer Grey. In the show’s most inspired gambit, Grey portrays an insecure, irony-poor, next-door neighbor version of herself, seizing on both her famed nose job and her downward career spiral to shred her image into self-deprecating mincemeat. Considering the very real pain no doubt propping up the laughs, this took courage for the actress to undertake, and she pulls it off so well as to approach the sublime.
Like that other Mehlman show that begins with an S, the strength of the comedy isn’t in the plotting, but the characterizations and the seeming throwaways. Like a moment in the opener when Elliott Gould himself just kind of rolls to a stop in his car beside a couple of our heroes, sipping Evian and sporting shades as “Brick House” blares from the stereo inside his … Honda.
These thirtysomethings obsess on the mundane and the ridiculous, resulting in such near-perfect lines as “You can’t put a monetary value on money” and the mention of the gay self-help book “Men Are From Mars, Men Are From Mars.” All of it is kept in perfect sync by helmer Andy Ackerman, who makes certain that the work flows with the requisite hyper energy.
Second seg supplied on a review tape was even funnier, the entire 22 minutes surrounding the city’s shutdown to watch that distinctly L.A. phenomenon, the freeway high-speed car chase.
It’s uproarious stuff, giving “It’s Like, You Know …” the kind of diverting originality that might eventually confer status as the “Seinfeld” for the new millennium. And if that should happen, those of us who live in this eccentric little burg may just have to spend the next 1,000 years living it down.
Tech credits are terrif, particularly the lively camerawork.