[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]
Show:“Super Fun Night” (ABC)
Airs:Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.
The Pitch:Rebel Wilson, Rebel Wilson and Rebel Wilson.
Quick Response: One line of dialogue. That’s all it would take to explain why Rebel Wilson’s character in “Super Fun Night” is Australian, rather than American like her lifelong chums. It’s “I remember when you first arrived at school.” HARD CUT TO… Young Rebel Wilson walks into a school lunchroom wearing an assortment of Yahoo Serious memorabilia. “G’Day!” she says. Everybody in the lunchroom throws tater tots at her other than her two future friends. It need never be mentioned again. Ever. That way, it’s totally acceptable for two American girls to have an Aussie bestie. And that way, it’s totally acceptable for Rebel Wilson to use a native accent which is a not-incidental part of her comedic appeal. We don’t laugh at her because she’s Australian, but her comedic voice is based on her VOICE and her cadences and her linguistic rhythm and flow, all things that simply can’t be replicated at the same time that Wilson is laboring — or “labouring” as she’d spell it in her native accent — with a voice that isn’t her own. I can’t say with certainty that the “Super Fun Night” pilot would be out-and-out funny if Wilson were Australian, but my certitude that it would be *funnier* is absolute. Look, making Wilson’s character Australian wouldn’t suddenly give Liza Lapira things to do that are amusing. I’ve almost always found Liza Lapira to be genuinely funny, but she’s funny when playing certain types of characters. This may evolve into one of those characters, but it’s not there yet (and I hope they steer away from the character Lapira played on “Don’t Trust the B—-,” just for variety). And making Wilson’s character Australian won’t change that Lauren Ash’s character comes across as perhaps too aggressive and underexplained to be funny (not that overexplaining makes things funny, but sometimes explaining helps make character actions seem organic, rather than forced). Actually, I should take that last bit out of the parenthetical, because what “Super Fun Night” feels, more than anything, is forced. The need to make us believe these three friends are colossal losers feels forced. The desire to show us how willing Rebel Wilson is to laugh at her weight feels forced. The only thing that may not be sufficiently forced is the attempt to convince viewers that the Rebel Wilson character is a capable attorney, as well as the outrageously awkward and unassimiliated person she is throughout. That might help. Instead, “Super Fun Night” is a 22 minute pilot that fails to properly establish its main character, her workplace or her core group of friends (or the overall world of the sitcom, since this pilot looks distressingly cheap, very nearly “Work It”-level cheap, though not quite). And, sadly, none of that would have been fixed merely by making Rebel’s character Australian, so I don’t know why that’s my core complaint in this blurb. A bigger complaint is that I want to like the main character and her friends and, at least so far, I do not.
Desire To Watch Again: Somehow, I got the impression that ABC planned to reshoot and reconceive much of “Super Fun Night,” so I had optimism about speedy fixes and excitement about seeing a new version of the pilot. At press tour, though, it became clear that although certain cosmetic changes are being made — Kelen Coleman, who I actually kinda liked in the pilot is being replaced as the primary adversary — this is the show the “Super Fun Night” team wants to be making. This worries me. I’ll watch two or three more episodes both because I like Rebel Wilson and because, for the most part, I watch the shows after “Modern Family,” but I’m more worried than anticipatory. People who don’t even like Rebel Wilson when she’s in her native form probably needn’t bother at all.
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