After a few weeks on the air, the time has come to revisit a few shows. First on the docket: I Just Want My Pants Back, the MTV show about four hipter friends living in NY who lead wild and crazy lives hooking up, partying down and looking for the girl that got away…with the protagonist’s pants.
Let’s bitch about episodes two through four…
Considering how fixated I am on arc-style storylines that build and develop over a series, I’m surprisingly okay with the general standalone structure of the show. Perhaps it’s just because the show is a slice of dirty-witted humour (who doesn’t love a good sex joke?), but I find myself laughing quite consistently at the NSFW jokes. Like all comedies, this one won’t work for everyone (your appreciation may hinge on how funny you find Sunkrish Bala’s convenience store clerk, Bobby, calling Kim Stack’s Tina a variation of a whore each week). Personally I find the ongoing shenanigans (or to borrow a term from my Lost Girl reviews: sexnanigans) are definitely hitting my funny bone.
In truth, the show – for me – remains all about Shaw’s Tina. She gets all the good lines, her comic delivery is always spot on and Stack can sell even the dirtiest line. Peter Vack as Jason is also quite good, though he has the burden of being the main character, which requires keeping the show grounded in its quest to find and partner up with Jane (Kelli Barrett), the girl who stole his pants in the pilot (check out my initial review here).
Less successful are Elisabeth Hower and Jordan Carlos as Stacey and Eric, the couple of the group. Thus far they are underdeveloped and their cute-funny schtick is just that: schtick. Traditionally in comedies the stand-out characters are the crazy, troublemaking ones (Kramer in Seinfeld, Phoebe and Joey in Friends, Max and Penny in Happy Endings) and the remaining characters are too neurotic to be funny (Monica) or they’re simply bland (Ross and Rachel). The exception? Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr) on Happy Endings who have overcome their dull couple status to become a hilarious comedy team.
There’s still potential for Stacey and Eric, but in the four episodes so far, the show seems more interested in exploring the lives and relationships of Tina and Jason, with Stacey and Eric relegated to the B-story sidelines. And honestly I’m fine with that, so long as the Tina and Jason bits remain as funny as they’ve been.
Episode 2 – Baby Monkeys
The show treads familiar water as Tina is seduced by Intern Kent (Josh Rabinowitz) after her latest spat with late-night booty caller, Brett (still unseen). Although it’s not an original story, or even an original angle (naturally Kent falls in love with her and Tina needs to find a way to ditch him, or “return the baby monkey to the wild” as Stacey puts it), there was still a lot of fun here, mostly thanks to Tina and her concerns with taking Kent’s virginity. In a fun reversal Kent actually listens to her when she tells him that there’s plenty of fish in the sea. Jason, meanwhile, posts a Missed Connection about pants girl, but at the meeting finds a desperate woman in place of Jane. He still ends up kinda lucky when he takes home the bartender, Kerry (Kelly McCreary), who is clearly even more messed up than him since she makes him dress up like her ex. Best line of the episode goes to Stacey who clarifies that when a girl says that she’s up for “anything” in bed it’s code for up the butt.
Meanwhile, in the B-story, frugal budgeters (aka cheapos) Stacey and Eric opt to buy a mattress from a local vendor instead of going to Macy’s, but come to regret the decision when they discover their mattress came off the street. This wasn’t overly funny – especially considering the infestation of bed bugs in NY – so this storyline really only made my skin crawl.
Episode 3 – Never Trust a Moonblower
This is the episode when we finally get a chance to meet Brett (Steve Talley) as he invites Tina to a ravioli party at James Franco’s place for their first pre-midnight date. Concerned about meeting his friends, Tina drags Jason along – which is a nice reaffirmation of their friendship and a good idea because all of Brett’s friends are hipster posers. I particularly enjoyed that the show recognizes that our four main characters (especially Tina and Jason) could be labeled hipsters and made an effort to present them as ‘cool’ hipsters – not the pretentious, mustached, too-much-money hipsters at the party. Side Note: Considering the bevy of projects James Franco is in, was I the only one disappointed that he didn’t turn up in person?
Naturally Brett ignores Tina at the party and they have a major blow-out, but Jason makes the most of the experience by networking with a indie music label employee. This leads to the most frustrating scene of the episode as Jason – after unknowingly quitting his job for an unpaid internship at Lench’s (Nick Kocher) vegan boobs magazine – botches his job interview because he catches sight of Jane. This is a) the kind of situation that only happens in make-believe-TV-land and b) makes Jason a stupid character. I appreciate that the show is portraying him as a lovesick romantic, but considering the show is also interested in exploring the lives of these late twenty-something people, it felt genuinely unrealistic that Jason couldn’t keep his shit together long enough to score the job and then dash after Jane (wasn’t the suggestion that she worked there?!). The “poverty stricken twenty-something” storyline is old and tired, so it was frustrating that instead of exploring how Jason has to grow up when he gets a professional job, the writers fell back on cliched convention. Disappointing.
On the B-side, Stacey and Eric challenge each other’s prudishness when they find themselves invited to a foursome with their hot, overly sexual neighbours. The evening goes about a well as you can expect considering neither of them even takes their top off, but it was an amusing surprise to have a third roommate show up to get in on the action and turn the foursome into an orgy. Naturally this episode caught the attention of the Parents Television Council (PTC) who called for a boycott in the same vein as their actions last year against the American version of Skins last year – a show they believe they helped cancel (as opposed to say…the show sucked and the British version was better?). Cue Helen Lovejoy’s’ “won’t somebody puh-lease think of the children?!” and get these idiots away from my television. I’m unsure how many 12 year olds the PTC thinks this show is corrupting considering it airs at 11pm, but I’m sure these hypocrites think they’re protecting someone.
Episode 4 – Pecker Necklace
The most recent episode was the show’s strongest in my eyes because it deftly manages to integrate all four of its principal cast members into a single story without sidelining Stacey and Eric (mostly). Jason and Tina both feel down in the dumps due to their job status and dating status, respectively, and make plans to have an epic night of music and weed. This all goes to hell when Tina and Stacey’s old sorority friend, Bree (Jenson Smith), shows up for her bachelorette party. While Tina braves a bar full of boys in cargo shorts, Jason goes on a series of misadventures/errands around the city to secure first cold medicine (in exchange for the weed), and second a penis pinata (because Tina forget to get it for the bachelorette party). For the first time Stacey is incorporated into the main story and we finally get to see Sloppy Stacey (her nickname in college since she becomes a hot mess drunk because she never drinks). What initially seems like a bit of a side-story – Eric’s disgust with humanity following his first night shift at the ER – pays off when he comes home and saves the day by taking care of drunken Stacey and hysterical Bree in one fell swoop. He may not be ready to become a real doctor, but he can still save the lives of his friends.
This leaves Jason and Tina to try and salvage their night, but they arrive too late to catch the band. Initially I was concerned that the show would end on a depressing note after such an amusing “everything went wrong” screwball episode, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Jason and Tina join the ironic hipster marching band passing by. After rubbing menthol on his drug dealer’s back (above the crack) and getting his junk kneaded like raw dough by Bree, it was nice to see Jason cut loose and demonstrate his horrible dancing skills.
Side Note 2: For the love of Pete, I hope this show recognizes that Jason and Tina should never hook up (not even as a drunken mistake). As much as I love the chemistry between Stack and Vack (tee hee), the relationship works because they’re awesome friends, not will-they-won’t-they lovers.
What say you, Pants fans: do you think the show has kept up the quality after its amusing pilot episode? Are you eagerly awaiting the return of Jane, who seems to do a drive-by cameo every few episodes? Do you like the ongoing Brett saga, or are you secretly hoping that Jason and Tina hook up? Sound off below!
And be sure to check out the follow-up check-in on the mid-season episodes (5-6) here