Fall 2011 Review: How to Be A Gentleman

11 Oct

I expected How to Be A Gentleman to be truly despicably awful on the level of Whitney, but it really wasn’t on that level, it was just merely not good at all.  It wasn’t cringeworthy.  I didn’t have trouble getting through the show.  It was just quite bad.

The premise is that David Hornby (Rickety Cricket from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) portrays an old school “gentleman” who opens doors for women and helps old ladies cross the street, and writes a column titled “How to Be A Gentleman” about well, you can figure it out.  His magazine, boss Dave Foley, lets him know, has been bought and is changing its target, and if he wants to remain employed he’ll make his column young and edgy and far less Gentleman-like.  Of course, he doesn’t know anything of that world.  He uses a birthday gift from his sister (Mary Lynn Rajskub, or Chloe from 24) for a training session at a gym which it turns out is run by a old high school bully, Bert Lansing (Kevin Dillon, or Entourage’s Johnny Drama virtually reprising his role).  Bert, feeling guilty about all the bullying years ago, is a bro, who wants to help Hornby’s character out, and Hornby, needing to learn this lifestyle for his column agrees.

It’s a CBS comedy and it feels like a CBS comedy.  The laughter is canned, the angle is multi-camera, and there are slow breaks between jokes as we gather ourselves to prepare for the next one.

Even in a weak new season for comedy (New Girl is the best, and it’s not great), How To Be A Gentleman is fairly terrible.  One of my issues is that it conflates being a “Gentleman” with being a total loser.  I’m not sure why those things need to go together, but that seems to be what’s going on here.  His family, at his birthday dinner, notes what a loser he is and how he wouldn’t have to be if he wasn’t so uptight, or in his mind, so gentlemanly.  It’s kind of irritating to watch just how loser-ish he is time and again, more so than anyone would be in real life.  Every character is far over the top, unrelatable, and not funny.

This is one of a mini-trend of sitcoms about emasculated men searching for manliness with ABC sitcoms Man Up and Last Man Standing.  I’m really to think of a way for the trend to work, but it seems misguided from the get go.

Will I watch it again?  No.  I honestly wish the cast assembled had something a bit better to work with but I can’t in good conscience be wasting time with a lousy show like this when there are so many better shows on tv.

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