Thursday, June 12, 2008

'My Boys' Returns

When "My Boys" (TBS, 9:30 p.m.) first came out, it was hailed as a kind of "Sex & The City" for men. It revolves around PJ (Jordana Spiro), a sports writer who has a group of platonic male friends whom she relates to better as "one of the guys."

But, if anything, I think it actually has a broader appeal than "SATC." For one thing, it seems to have an equal appeal among the men and women I know.

For example, here's the female perspective, courtesy of my colleague, Jennifer Burk:

"It is very easy to relate to PJ. In many ways, she is the average young woman - confident in most facets of her life but a little unsure and timid when it comes to being with guys romantically. Her boys are like my boys: mostly sweet, at times vulgar and sometimes jerks. I think every woman sees a little bit of herself in PJ."

(It should be noted that Jennifer is the lone female among our home game of poker players, so she shares a similar perspective as to that of PJ, as well as PJ's eternal patience with male oddball behavior.)

I think the show's strength - in addition to the interplay of the cast - is that PJ's appeal to men is the same reason she can't seem to land one. She's too much like one of the guys. The irony is, a good-looking, sharp woman who enjoys sports, poker and beer would be the dream girl for many guys.

But PJ often fails at relationships because she often tries to switch to "girl mode" - and she's terrible at it. She has no interest in the "girl things" that the "SATC" women speak of ad nauseum, like fashion or fashion mags or whatever. This is often to the chagrin of her lone girlfiend, Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), who'd easily fit in with the "SATC" ladies should they ever expand their roster.

That underlying concept of PJ's dating ineptness plays into tonight's season premiere. We left her on an airplane bound for Italy for a romantic holiday with a guy. The problem is, most of the season showed PJ with three choices, and we don't know which guy she picked, until now. (I won't spoil things, except to say there's a twist).

Of course, PJ being PJ, she still doesn't know how to approach things even after the choice is made. As she tells Steph, "I'll let Italy do the work for me."

Ultimately, the strength of "My Boys" lays within the relationship of the gang, PJ's group of male friends who show her the ultimate respect by simply being themselves around her, knowing they can't possibly offend her despite their juvenile male antics.

The 'B' storyline involves the gang getting booted from their regular bar when one of them crosses the line and has a one-night stand with a waitress.

Next week's episode is a little better, with the gang all together, and collectively failing at the dating game. Plus, PJ's brother Andy (the scene-stealing Jim Gaffigan) doesn't see the downside until it's too late when he hires the world's hottest nanny.

It's ironic, but in trying to emulate "SATC," the "My Boys" producers have done a much better job of creating a comedy that everyone of either gender can relate to, since "SATC" often digressed into male-bashing and esoteric fashion quips that, for me at least, made it unwatchable.

And "My Boys" has done the viewer the service of not going to the other extreme and doing an all-male version like ABC's horried "Big Shots," which proved equally offensive to both men and women alike.

If you haven't done so yet, check out "My Boys." It's a gang you'll enjoy hanging out with.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: "My Boys" follows the second season premiere of "The Bill Engvall Show" (TBS, 9 p.m.)

A new "Swingtown" (CBS, 10 p.m.) airs, following the new, updated "Password" at 8 p.m. and a "CSI" rerun at 9 p.m.

NBC gives us a 90-minute "Last Comic Standing" at 8:30 p.m., followed by a new installment of the horror anthology series "Fear Itself" at 10 p.m., with Eric Roberts as a private investigator whose past catches up with him.

If you forgot what Ang Lee did to "The Hulk" before the new movie premieres this weekend, you can check it out tonight (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.)

Finally, Game 4 of the NBA finals (ABC, 9 p.m.) tips off tonight.


zodin2008 said...

"My Boys" is a great show and I am pleased it's returning. But ironically, I find her girly friend to be the most annoying character - but necessary to show the contrast with PJ.

I enjoyed the premier episode of "Fear Itself" and especially because it featured Landry from "Friday Night Lights". I think down the line the kid has a big future and I can visualize him transitioning into a big film career one day. I will be watching more of that. I also 'tried' "Swingtown" and with so little on TV right now, I will stick with it and watch it again over the weekend.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, Steph is annoying but is also a necessity to provide a contrast with the rest of PJ's life.

You must be a glutton for punishment if you are continuing to watch Swingtown.

Jonathan said...

I barely made it through the first episode of "Swingtown." My wife and I had the same reaction to it; the subject matter did not offend us, but the terrible writing, direction, and acting did.

I find it very hard to believe that this conservative woman, Polly Walker, would take one qualude and then agree to an orgy though.

I guess they felt they had to rush it all in that first episode to get everyone into it. Once again, why this would work better on Cable is because they would actually let the storyline simmer over a few episodes before they had a whammy like that take place.

There was a lot else wrong with it (Grant Show's Mustache for starters), but that was the one plot point that really stood out. I have not seen an episode of "My Boys," and I'm too OCD to start it up in the third season, so eventually I'll get around to downloading it or checking it out on DVD I guess. I love me some Gaffigan, so I'm interested in seeing it at some point.

Phillip Ramati said...

Swingtown would work on cable better because they could then show the things that are supposed to shock the viewer rather than imply them.

My Boys is one of those shows where it is very easy to catch up with, tonight's cliffhanger not withstanding. I urge you to give a shot, especially next week, which is just brilliant.

zodin2008 said...

I second Phillip, big time, on "My Boys".

When it first premiered 2 years ago, (this should be season 3 but they are supposedly calling this season 2 and that season 1 was split up over a year which is just it season 3?!?!) I was rather skeptical of a relatively no name cast and a sitcom on TBS of all places.

(and mind you, TBS' other 2 offerings are poorly reviewed shows that appeal to two very different audiences, neither of which I fit - "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and "The Bill Engvall Show").

But, I immediately fell in love with the show and my wife and I are both completely hooked...unlike Phillip the hater, we both liked "Sex & The City" (my wife is hardcore and saw the movie opening weekend) but my wife likes "My Boys" as much.

Oh, and despite what Phillip says, if he actually watched more than 2 episodes, he'd know SATC is not a man hating show and that's completely asinine. I found it the celebrated men in many ways and it mixed crappy dates or bad boyfriends, with great guy characters that the audience rooted for like Steve the Bartender (who ended up with Miranda), Harry Goldenblatt (played by Evan Handler) the most likeable NY lawyer ever (and he ended up with my favorite, Charlotte) or Smith Jarrod, the model/actor who was the nicest and least pretentious model/actor ever (he ended up with Samantha), or Mr. (John) Big (Chris Noth) who is every woman's favorite guy and he of course ends up with Carrie.

In fact, Carrie's other great love on the show, Aidan (John Corbett) was one of the nicest guys ever and the two different times he and Carrie broke up? It was CARRIE who was the 'bad guy' and screwed him over. (The first time they broke up, it;s because she had an affair with Big).

So to call "Sex and the City" man-hating is a an out and out lie. If it had been, I wouldn't have watched and frankly, it would have turned the audience off. They created some lovelable male characters who the audience could root for, just as much as they could root for the women.