Owing more than a passing debt to “Sex and the City” — a series TBS knows well, having run the sprockets off its reruns — “My Boys” saunters onto the field with all the assuredness of a big-league closer. Breezy, smart and occasionally funny, director Betsy Thomas has created a real-feeling world where a femme sportswriter is very much one of the guys, with all the merriment and challenges that entails. Although unlikely to be a major hit, the show should win fans among both bleacher bums and women pining for another decent comedy with a plucky heroine/narrator at its core.
PJ (Jordana Spiro) leads us through the vagaries of dating and baseball, couching her narration in sports metaphors that she occasionally, er, pounds into the cheap seats. She hosts pizza and poker parties with the sportswriter/radio/team reps who occupy the press box alongside her, becoming so much part of the backdrop they don’t seem to notice that, in their parlance, she’s kinda hot.
That changes when Bobby (Kyle Howard) joins a rival newspaper, enjoying an immediate spark with PJ, who, guy-like, pounces on him like a slice of prime sirloin. The not-quite-close encounter thus plays out over subsequent episodes, as she has to deal with hanging around a new member of the “boy” pack with whom she might actually crave a relationship.
PJ’s extended circle also includes her harried and married (if that’s not too redundant) brother, Andy (Jim Gaffigan); and girly-girl Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), a friend since college who can’t fathom the boys-club mentality.
The narration, admittedly, can be clunky in spots, and Spiro — who isn’t an entirely convincing protagonist — sometimes appears to be wrestling with it and losing.
Nevertheless, the rest of the cast is topnotch, and Thomas has done a fine job capturing the periodic awkwardness of a woman hanging around a group of rough-around-the-edges Chicago schlubs — men who obsess over baseball, talk bluntly about getting laid and never eat anything at the bottom of the FDA’s nutritional triangle. Other amusing moments have PJ explaining that one of them received a “girl booty call” and, in a later episode, proving herself to be a terrible “wing person” when the guys go trawling for babes.
“My Boys” dresses up its high-carb mentality with all the requisite trappings, from Ed Alton’s bluesy score to the deftly interwoven Windy City exteriors and sets (it’s actually shot in L.A.) that convey the Spartan, sports-filled world in which PJ resides.
After establishing a footprint in comedy with off-network fare, TBS is seeking to augment its roster with originals, and “My Boys” represents a promising newcomer to the lineup — incorporating elements with which both men and women can surely identify.
Socking a homer in one of the cabler’s first at-bats might be too much to expect, but — using PJ-speak — this rookie has the kind of potential that, with a little seasoning, might allow her to go the distance.