12 January 2007 | improbablesage
Finally, a "Friends" for the 21st Century!
TBS's "very funny" new comedy, "My Boys," may be the best new comedy on television since "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- certainly, since "The Office." After a middling start, the show is beginning to really gel, and so is the cast. In fact, the ensemble program is the first worthy successor to the storied "Friends." Its premise is both straightforward and modestly subversive. P.J. is a beat writer for a Chicago newspaper, covering the Cubs. But -- and here's the interesting part -- she's a girl. (And, btw, far more masculine than any of her costars. In a good way.) She lives in a cool but not unrealistically over-sized (in a refreshing departure from most television sets) "bachelor pad," complete with comfy chairs and the primary feature, a decked-out poker table.
Her pals -- old college buddy and possible flame Brendan ("Brendo"), a heavy-metal deejay; heart-on-his-sleeve Mike, a sports public relations flunkie; somber, mildly neurotic, romance-impaired Kenny; and the newest addition to the gang, Bobby, a fellow Cubs reporter -- and P.J.'s older, wiser, melancholy brother, "Fun" Andy, perpetually complaining about his ball-and-chain half-existence... and she are inseparable, going to dinner together, hanging out at Crowley's (a cross between Bennigan's and Mother's) together, and, most importantly, playing poker together. A lot. P.J. is, though she'd never admit it, both "den mother" and social glue to the gaggle of late-twentysomethings. P.J. is also best friends, improbably, with would-be debutante Stephanie who, like Brendo, first knew "Peej" at Northwestern, where Stephanie seems to have studied men, mostly.
The show is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and getting better as it goes on. The chemistry between the cast is exceptional, and after a sometimes inconsistent beginning to the first season, the male costars and their characters -- particularly Andy, but also Brendo and, surprisingly, the reserved Kenny -- are beginning to come into their own. Nominal series "star" Jordana Spiro -- unfortunately, btw, saddled with a voice that's part Swedish Chef, part Terry Griffith from "Just One of the Guys" -- but otherwise pretty damned hot -- generously allows her "boys" to snag more than their fair share of exceptional lines and pratfalls. It seems that ad-libbing is encouraged on the show, and becoming even more so, and that's a very good thing. Clichéd zaniness is kept to a minimum -- these are "real" people, here -- and that's also a very good thing. Much of the credit, of course, needs to go to the writers, but the cast makes their characters -- and the show -- appealing, delightful, lovable.
Let's hope "My Boys" has a long, successful run. It deserves it. Bravo.