Amazon posted its five new pilots today: Two dramas and three comedies. How are the new shows? Well, the comedies are a mixed bunch! One is terrific right out of the gate, one is polished but uninteresting, and one just needs to decide to be a better show.
The Cosmopolitans: It's a Whit Stillman show set in Paris, starring Adam Brody and Chloë Sevigny (among others) as American expats who drink wine and go to parties and lament things. It's very much how you'd think, which is to say: Mannered and tiny in scope; nostalgic, almost, even though it's set in the present day; and also sharply funny and a little dreamy. ("You always imagine journalists being ugly, because of the anger, but she's really attractive!") Are these people loathsome or aspirational? Ah, complexity.
The Cosmopolitans is not a mainstream show by any standard, and I can't even think of a network where it would be at home — and this is the dream for TV fans, that the streaming universe will put out the kinds of shows traditional television would never make and couldn't really support. If there had been another episode to watch, I would have watched it immediately. Vive les Cosmopolitans.
Red Oaks: David Gordon Green directs, Steven Soderbergh is among the show's executive producers, and the cast of this '80s-set comedy includes Jennifer Grey, Richard Kind, and Paul Reiser, but Red really doesn't seem like anything special. It's every coming-of-age summer-set Sundance movie blended with a pile of '80s costuming references — like watching Adventureland dipped in The Goldbergs. Craig Roberts (22 Jump Street) stars as David, a college student working as a tennis pro at a country club for the summer, and every obvious plot point you can think of makes an appearance. A big summer rager among the college-age staff so wild that girls take their tops off while stoners and jocks surprise themselves by mingling. The vacant blonde girlfriend — crimped hair, of course — will surely prove no match for the mysterious, literary brunette. There's the sleazy older employee, complete with mustache so you know he's really and truly sleazy, scamming on the ladies. "That guy's so cliché," David whines. No kidding.
Really Did you know that the married men of America are not getting enough blow jobs? They want blow jobs so badly, you see. But their wives just do not give them enough blow jobs! It causes this traumatic blow-job deficit, in which the demand for blow jobs is so high, but the supply is too low; the presence of young children often widens this chasm. Basically, it is this great tragedy. The Blow-Job Tragedy. The BJT is the subject of many guy-chat conversations in film and television, and recently played a starring role in the pilot of Married. Here on Really, it could also get top billing. Really stars Jay Chandrasekhar, Sarah Chalke, and the BJT. Rob Delaney also makes an appearance.
Aside from the BJT stories, Really has promise, though BJT takes up most of the show's emotional energy. There's another blow-job story line that's 100 times more interesting, but it's relegated to "secondary blow-job story line" status, unfortunately. Still, the cast is wildly appealing — Chandresekhar and Chalke make a cute couple, Luka Jones is appropriately tragic as the friend with the severe drinking problem, Selma Blair, Lindsay Sloane, Hayes MacArthur, Travis Schuldt, yes, yes, yes. If Really can find a way to dig a little deeper, to give its characters more serious, more interesting wants, I'd be onboard.