Fall 2014 Review: A to Z

3 Oct

A, Z, and A's friend

A to Z is almost too cute for its own good. Desperately earnest in the day of where most sitcoms starting 20 and 30-somethings are snappy and ironic, A to Z may claim otherwise, but the show it most closely imitates is CBS’s recently departed How I Met Your Mother, and while, based on my overall impressions of How I Met Your Mother (with exceptions, fairly negative), that might sound like a bad thing, I actually don’t mean it that way. A to Z actually handles this earnestness, which could easily be too much, in a positive, optimistic manner that even made me, a pessimist born and bred, hopeful for a moment.. Because of this and the charisma of its two leads which leads to those positive feels, A to Z, while not being a show which demands viewing, and while, perhaps most importantly for a comedy, not being particularly funny off the bat, actually makes a halfway decent case for repeat viewership.

Of course, because it hews eerily close to How I Met Your Mother, there’s a clever storytelling gimmick that surrounds the show. A to Z is omnisciently narrated by TV superstar Katey Segal (in a slightly less violent role than her current job on Sons of Anarchy) who tells us that she’ll give us the whole story of the relationship between the two title characters, Andrew, and Zelda, over the entire course of their eight-month relationship, or again, from A to Z (groan at the pun, please). The already-knowing-how-long-the-relationship-is gimmick also reminded me of 500 Days of Summer.

Segal’s narrator tells us a little bit about the characters as well, giving us cute backgrounds of the two main stars. Andrew is the Ted – he’s the romantic, working for a rather cynical online dating company because he actually believes in helping people meet, which feels like something Ted would approve of heartily. Zelda is a career-oriented, lawyer, well-organized and conservative personality-wise, not particularly interested in going out on a limb. When they meet, he’s convinced he shared a destiny-type moment with her at a concert years ago (again, think Ted), creeping her out initially. Even though it may not actually have been her, eventually she’s persuaded to gve him a second chance, due to his sheer force of enthusiasm, which carries her more cynical self, along. They each have wacky side character best buds, straight out of rom com 101, who are goofier and louder than either of the two leads.

A to Z feels like a ten-years later update of its spiritual predecessor, How I Met Your Mother.  Slightly more twee and hip; the near decade difference in debuts shows in the types of young people at the heart of the show. The other difference, at least in the pilot, is that How I Met Your Mother, in its first couple of seasons, for all I rag on it, could be hilariously funny – Barney and Marshall, particularly – and that’s why I watched it even when I already hated other aspects of the show. A to Z isn’t particularly funny, though it also didn’t have the patronizing let-me-tell-you-how-life-is edge that so rubbed me, but few others, the wrong way on How I Met Your Mother.

To sum up, it’s sweet, and it’s earnest and it’s cute. It’s not very funny. That’s okay if it offers enough elsewhere; Girls and Enlightened are half hours both well-worth watching despite between being very often not very funny, and sometimes (moreso on Enlightened) out and out depressing. There’s something of value on A to Z, but I’m not sure if it’s enough for me, while it might be for someone who likes this stype of stuff more.

Will I watch it again? No. I seriously considered it, because the two leads did make me want to root for it and them, but the show didn’t quite win me over enough to keep watching, because it wasn’t either funny, or clever or engaging enough for another episode.

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