Monday, October 12, 2015

Pilot Review: Casual

Casual (Hulu)
Premiered October 7

It might be because of the look of the poster, or maybe it’s because the network is new to originally programming, but I expected to find something like “Difficult People” when I sat down to watch this show. This series feels a lot more like another streaming service hit, “Transparent,” offering up a comedy that isn’t filled with jokes but instead with humorous concepts that are woven together into a show that often feels more like a drama. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but halfway through the first episode, I could tell that this is a show that I would like. The concept of someone inventing an online dating service using a strict algorithm that he doesn’t really buy into and then using the site himself to go on dates is great in its own right, and the fact that he double-dates with his newly single sister is even better. I really like Michaela Watkins, who has appeared on “Trophy Wife,” “Enlightened,” and a number of other shows, and I think this is a superb role for her. I didn’t recognize Tommy Dewey, who played Josh on “The Mindy Project,” as the very blunt and entertaining Tommy, who was audacious enough to make his sister’s one night stand breakfast and then go out with him the next night, during which he solicited cocaine from a cop. I think I’m going to like Tara Lynne Barr a lot as Laura, the daughter who has sex with her boyfriend with her mom in the house and then later assumes that she is coming in to get condoms from her daughter following her date, and also opts to get arrested rather than deal with the fact that her boyfriend may be cheating on her. The way in which Watkins’ Valerie picked up Leon in episode one and then went to the home of a much younger man (played by Dean Geyer, eternally famous me to as a would-be lunar accountant on “Terra Nova”) only to be interrupted by not one but two calls from the police station was great, and I can tell that this show’s rhythm is subtle but terrific. This show also feels a lot like “Togetherness,” another quiet comedy that has a wonderful occasional energy to it.

How will it work as a series? Getting a second episode with the first was wonderful since it showed that it could follow up on the pilot’s developments and do a spectacular job following all three of its protagonists at the same time and weaving together their stories in a very interesting way. I’m definitely hooked, and I think this show is going to be very good.
How long will it last? It’s hard to know with Hulu since ratings aren’t garnered in the same way. Its last show, “Difficult People,” scored similar reviews and ended up getting picked up, so my guess is that this show is going to take off. I have nothing to back that up, but right now I think it’s going to be back for a second season and maybe more.

Pilot grade: B+

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