By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol
7:00 PM CDT, July 29, 2013
"Please Like Me" is easy to like. Even love.
When the Australian comedy (7 p.m. Thursday, Pivot and pivot.tv; 3.5 out of 4 stars) debuts on Participant Media's new millennial-aimed cable network Pivot, viewers can binge-watch all six half-hour episodes of the first season. I have little doubt they won't; after viewing the first two episodes, I can't wait to see the rest of the season. (Pivot already has renewed it for a 10-episode second season.)
It's a wry, down-to-Earth and often-moving account of how relationships with friends and family evolve as we grow into adulthood.
The coming-of-age series is written by and stars 25-year-old Australian comedian Josh Thomas and is partly inspired by his own life. It follows Josh, a 20-year-old lamenting how puberty did not help his "rubbish face."
"Puberty did a good job with you," he says to his girlfriend, Claire (Caitlin Stasey). "You used to be really awful to look at."
Just as they're about to dig into a $19 sundae, Claire drops a bomb that has Josh totally under-reacting: she wants to break up with him.
"I kind of feel like we've drifted," she says. "Also, you're gay."
Josh denies it, but not too strenuously. Before he knows it, he's in bed with hunky Geoffrey (Wade Briggs), the co-worker of his giraffe-obsessed best friend and roomie Tom (Tom Ward). Josh and Geoffrey’s bedroom scene, which has Josh trying to change into his nightclothes behind his bedroom door while Geoffrey lies only in his underwear on the bed, exemplifies the sweet, funny and genuine tone of the series--even as it shows a darker side.
Thomas could have made "Please Like Me" simply an awkward coming-out comedy with stereotypical, one-note characters. But he's crafted something deeper and more fulfilling. While Josh is exploring his new sexuality, pretty much by default, his needy family shakes him a little less gently out of his insular world.
Josh has to move back home to care for his mom, Rose (Debra Lawrance), who attempted suicide. His dad, Alan (David Roberts), feels guilty about his ex while trying to please his new bride, Mae (Renee Lim). Josh's religiously zealous Aunt Peg (Judi Farr) demands to help care for Rose.
Josh's family situation sets up a lot of cringe-worthy humor. He avoids dealing with tough emotions by constantly spouting quips that can be hilarious, touching and, again, genuine.
"Please Like Me," unlike the much-praised millennial comedy "Girls," feels unpretentious and natural with fully-realized characters rooted in reality.
The title suggests we like the show. I love it.
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