Hipster high schoolers are everywhere in “M.Y.O.B.,” the Peacock web’s sitcom from “The Opposite of Sex” director Don Roos. Loaded with potential, but bogged down with some far-fetched plot twists and a been-there-done-that feel, this summer entry also spends too much time trying to impress viewers with its TV knowledge. Remarking on everything from “Friends” to “Law and Order” (all NBC faves, of course), show is like a network promo tool instead of the solid, sassy project it could be. It’s demo-friendly enough, but whether anyone will stay with a starless, sketchy comedy is another story.
“M.Y.O.B.” (“mind your own business”) examines education, love and loyalty through the eyes of a world-wise 16-year-old girl (Katharine Towne). Sound familiar? It should. The show cribs from “My So-Called Life,” “Get Real” and “Popular,” among many other past and present skeins, targeting an audience of young mall-dwellers.Show revolves around Riley Veatch (Towne), a blonde firecracker who has arrived solo in San Francisco, looking for her birth mother. Not a fan of her own age group’s superficiality, she enrolls at Gossett High School and uses her Akron, Ohio-bred street smarts to routinely scorn cheerleaders and jocks. She eventually lands on the doorstep of Opal Brown (Lauren Graham), her neurotic and lonely aunt, who is also the assistant principal.
Reviewed episodes show off Riley’s not-so-sensitive people skills. She blackmails the district’s superintendent into giving Opal the head principal post above a competing colleague (Paul Fitzgerald) and, in week two, outs a student’s relationship with a dippy teacher.
Like the recently canceled “Sports Night” and “Grapevine,” “M.Y.O.B.” has its trendy moments, getting laughs from digs at characters with flawed personalities. But a hotel encounter with a stranger who happens to be Opal’s boss and a Mary Kay LeTourneau-ish scandal are, narratively speaking, quite a stretch.
The over-the-top elements tend to drown out the show’s better aspects, most notably the decision to make fun of itself; “M.Y.O.B.” constantly refers to its setting as a TV-made fantasyland where kids walk in pairs and skin is unbelievably pimple-free.
The two topliners come off as equally endearing and neurotic. But while Towne gets the best lines and the juicier role — she’s part nymph and part loner — Graham is the more agreeable lead. An odd couple for the post-Clinton era, Riley is the feisty one with a killer body, and the older Opal represents a closed-off stability far removed from any real companionship.
Single-camera technique provides opportunities for swift, quick-cut edits and snappy pacing.