There is nothing I enjoy more than an off-beat comedy with strong characters and witty writing. New Girl comes to mind immediately, as does the prematurely canceled Happy Endings.
Toss a handful of quirky singles into a communal living space and hijinks are bound to ensue. But for every show that has found success with this formula, there is more than one that has missed the mark.
Weird Loners Season 1 Episode 1 introduces us to four single thirty-somethings who are still finding their way. While it has the potential to be a very funny show, there is something problematic in its singular angle. The characters are "weird" for reasons that paint them as one-dimensional stock characters, which leaves little room for growth. This may be corrected in future episodes, but only time will tell if the series (and its titular loners) will figure it out.
Weird Loners has the scaffolding to be successful. The cast is made up of actors who have proved their comedic street cred: Zachary Knighton on Happy Endings, Becki Newton on How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty, and Nate Torrence on Hello Ladies.
Rounding out the cast is newcomer Meera Rohit Kumbhani, and the foursome does have an immediate and enjoyable chemistry on screen. Unfortunately, the characters in "Weird Pilot" are written as cookie-cutter cliches and need to be further developed in order for any sort of audience connection to be made.
We are given dossiers on the loners right away, with their names, ages and occupations spelled out, along with a glimpse into what makes each one a "weird loner."
Caryn is the hopeless romantic with a white knight fantasy who refuses to settle for mousy stock character Howard who has offered her a passionless marriage.
Caryn: You were always terrified of intimacy, weren't you? I could see it in your eyes the very first day we met.
Marty: Which was Wednesday.
Stosh is the womanizing ladies man who is fired for hooking up with his boss' fiancee.
I got the same sex drive as everyone else. I just don't have the drive to do all that other horse...Stosh
Zara is a free-spirited hippie, who can't commit to anything for any substantial length of time. And Eric, Stosh's cousin, is a sweet, overgrown child, who never left home and is therefore a far-too-convenient receptacle for Stosh's schemes.
Zara: Passion is such a fleeting thing. That's why I'm a big fan of masturbation.
Eric: Hey, me too!
What is problematic about Weird Loners is that it pigeonholes its characters in a way that is going to be difficult to overcome.
In "Weird Pilot," Caryn is returning from an unsuccessful singles cruise, a last ditch effort to find an alternative to Howard's proposal. She meets Stosh when she almost starts a fire cooking her engagement dinner. Her desire for excitement, combined with his desire for betrothed women, makes their attraction instantaneous, but predictable.
Caryn and Stosh are on a clear-cut collision course to some sort of hook-up or relationship, and while it may go the predicable route, their dynamic could be interesting if it veers away from the beaten path.
You strode in here with your hair and your pants, and you fixed my smoke alarm. That's a lot to throw at a girl who's been drinking Chablis since lunchtime.Caryn
While there is hope for Stosh and Caryn to achieve some degree of characterization, the more problematic characters are Zara and Eric. Zara is a dimensionless cartoon character with really nowhere to go. Kumbhani does what she can with the character, but there isn't a lot for her to work with in the pilot.
Torrence is underutilized as well. Eric's stunted adulthood provides some laughs but needs to progress carefully so as not to become an offensive caricature.
While the characters don't have to be likeable, viewers still have to care enough to tune in. Hopefully, Weird Loners will find its footing in upcoming episodes.
What was your favorite part of the pilot? Which "weird loner" is your favorite? Will you come back for Weird Loners Season 1 Episode 2?
If you missed the pilot, you can watch Weird Loners online at TV Fanatic.