Bored to Death Meets the New York Reality Index

Bored to Death

The Alanon Case
Season 1 Episode 2

Worlds collide for “Jonathan Ames” as he trails the (supposedly) cheating husband of his second client — and ends up following his own ex-girlfriend, who has been attending Al-Anon meetings with the perp. Like Jonathan, the client (played by a Jessica Rabbit–ish Kristen Wiig), has a drinking problem that has imperiled her relationship. But the real issue, she says, is that her man is not answering his phone at night. (Jonathan’s best friend is equally, if not more, unlucky in love: His overbearing vegan girlfriend demands that Ray clean up his act by cleaning out his colon.) It all ends badly for Jonathan, but not for his client: He confirms that her man isn’t philandering, but trying to save the relationship by learning how to cope with her drinking. It’s a believable enough story for a program about a fey writer moonlighting as a detective. But the authentic experience the show’s really trying to impart concerns New York City — and Brooklyn — living. In that sense Bored to Death is a little like Gossip Girl. And so we’re borrowing the approach Daily Intel uses for its GG Overnights: the reality index.

Sure, It Could Happen
• When bumbling, bearded Ray meets up with Jonathan at their coffeehouse, he nearly face-plants over a path-obstructing stroller. Predictably, the doting Brooklyn mother barely notices, let alone apologizes. Less predictably, though, is that there is just one Maclaren in the place. Plus 1.

• The barista is outfitted in the unofficial uniform of the blue-blooded Brooklyn service worker: a plaid shirt straight out of Marc Jacobs’s 1992 “grunge” collection. Plus 2.

• Jonathan’s first complaint to his ex is not that he’s missing her companionship, but that he’s missing her toothpaste and toiletries. Plus 1.

• In a voice mail to his ex, Jonathan butchers a Buddhist aphorism: “A man walks across the room, and he’s a changed man.” Or something. What New Yorker hasn’t turned to a bastardization of Buddhism in times of personal crisis? Plus 2.

• Editor George lives in one of those ubiquitous, new glass-house apartments. The metaphor isn’t the only thing that’s fitting — so are the Design Within Reach trimmings and Eames lounge chair with ottoman. The perfect counterpoint to Jonathan’s empty, prewar-ish Brooklyn apartment. Plus 3.

• The typesetter who mocked up the faux–“Page Six” headline about George’s herpes should be quite proud of it. We’d believe the quasi-blind item even with our corrective lenses in. Plus 2.

Uh, We’re Not Buying It
•Ray’s girlfriend wants him to get a colonic? 2005 called — it wants its colon humor back. Hasn’t Jonathan Ames heard of the Master Cleanse? Minus 2.

• On the train back to Brooklyn, riders are actually holding straps, not metal bars. Are authentically retro subway cars really necessary? Plus 2 for style, minus 2 for useless set-design expense.

• The Duane Reade, Brooklyn Café, Odessa, and mysterious bar are silent and sparsely populated. Minus 2.

• Jonathan trails the handsome suspect into a Crunch gym, where the guy works up a sweat on the stationary bike. First of all, who works up a sweat on a stationary bike (a.k.a. the cakewalk of gym equipment)? Second, this guy may not be a David Barton type, but he clearly can afford an Equinox membership. Minus 1.

• The Al-Anon meeting takes place in what appears to be St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery — but that hall is more often booked for galas and fashion shows. Plus 1 for aesthetics, minus 2 for implausibility.

• After the meeting, the ex and the “cheater” target a retreat to Odessa Restaurant, the diner favored by many a downtown abstainer. The only problem is, it would take a superhero to get to Avenue A from Second Avenue so quickly. Minus 1.

That leaves us with a plus 3 on the It Could Happen side. Maybe we’re being generous, but can you blame us? We love a New York story.

Bored to Death Meets the New York Reality Index