I respect MTV's attempts at scripted (or, in some cases, scripted-ish) programming. Once you get over the dated "I thought this was music television" argument, it's obvious that MTV has the hard-to-reach ultra-loyal audience that most networks are seriously lacking and is capable of producing good content. In the past year alone, Teen Wolf and more so Awkward. have become two of our favorite shows and not necessarily just the teen-oriented variety.
But as we've learned, every time there's a new series on MTV, there's really no way of telling how it will fare. I had moderate hopes for Underemployed, its latest venture in capturing what it's like to be a raunchy 20-something young person... and its latest failure. In the hopes that you haven't already wasted your time on this show, here are the main reasons why I'd suggest seeking other opportunities:
The Clichéd Storylines
So the show revolves around a group of friends about a year after they graduate college and they're each living in/returning to Chicago much less optimistic than they were when their diplomas were fresh. Former valedictorian of her college class Sophia (Michelle Ang) works at a local donut shop (whose aesthetics remind me too much of a mix of Voodoo Doughnut and the doughnut shop in 2008's rightfully underrated Sex Drive to not mention) but really wants to be a novelist. Miles (90210's Diego Boneta) wants to be an underwear model but is instead a caterer. Daphne (Sarah Habel) has been stuck in unpaid intern purgatory for quite some time (yet manages to blackmail her way to a $40k salary by the pilot's end). Lou (Jared Kusnitz) and Raviva (Inbar Lavi) mutually broke up after graduation to pursue grad school and music, but Lou's essentially unemployed when Raviva comes back after nine months to reveal she's very pregnant. Each plotline manages to be overdone and overwritten simultaneously, which is kind of impressive to watch, actually.
The Acting (and Lack Thereof)
What really tanks the show is the fact that none of these people can act -- this is some 8:00 PM ABC Family-level of talent here. On top of that, each character is too grating to give a crap about, especially when it's revealed to us that Lou's dad is an extremely wealthy businessman who is his "last resort" of getting a job, since nothing says "relatable character" like a son of a millionaire. Also: Lou played the lead annoying high school douchebag from that episode of Community where those kids tormented Jeff and Britta about going to Greendale. If it wasn't for the fact that I watched him have his ass handed to him by a recently banged-Lisa Rinna, I don't think I would have made it through this pilot. Ah-duh! (And yes, that's totally Tamara!)
The Desperate Appeals to Youth
Within the first ten seconds of the pilot, a MacBook is already thrown in our faces. Some product placement on a teen show is to be expected, but a plotline/character trait revolving around playing Angry Birds is a bit much. We then get some annoying references to popular indie bands (I'm assuming those were real bands, anyway) a plethora of gross sex gags and best of all, a bunch of jokes about how this one girl is bulimic and doesn't speak any English. Let's leave the poorly written, tasteless and tone-deaf jokes that objectify young women and make light of eating disorders with the dead and buried Hard Times of RJ Berger, okay?
I Just Want My Pants Back
I sat through this entire series last year, and I've got to tell you, it was really not that bad... but I'm not willing to do it again. I'm not confident that MTV is ready to capture what it's like to be a normal young person struggling to balance life and love -- especially not when there's a (hilariously huge) newborn baby in the mix. The trailer for the rest of the season didn't look terrible and to Underemployed's credit, it does seem like one of the most ambitious shows MTV has ever tried to pull off. But when the cast is already this entitled 40-odd minutes in, it's unlikely that things will go up from here.
At the end of the day, there's already a show that does 20-somethings with little-to-no jobs struggling in the city while annoying the crap out of everyone around them. I have a very high Lena Dunham tolerance, but even then, Underemployed does not capture the comic realness or hipster commentary that had people so enthralled with HBO's Girls. I will admit, though, that I was actually really impressed and excited when I saw a black woman on the series... and even more so when it turned out she was a lesbian. See, that's something not often shown on TV, even if it was a little contrived and clearly trying too hard. However, after she had sex with Sophia, our former-virgin quickly told Daphne that she "sorta" lost her v-card, which... I don't know, maybe I misread the situation, or maybe the show will explain in coming episodes that she wasn't invalidating lesbian sex or anything and I just totally over-analyzed things. Either way, I won't be around to find out.
What did you think of the pilot? Would you prefer Season 3 of My Life as Liz? Sound off below.
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