Last season, Man Seeking Woman fell out of the brain of former Saturday Night Live writer and short story author Simon Rich. An absurd 10-episode odyssey through the travails of sudden singledom that featured a cough-syrup addicted Cupid, a destination wedding in Hell, and a penis monster named Tanaka, the show didn’t garner massive ratings. Luckily, though, FXX gave Man Seeking A Woman another shot, most likely recognizing the undeniable originality and wit that made the show a viable candidate to attract a bigger audience (and more accolades) as people had more time to talk about it.
As show creator Simon Rich explained to us earlier today, however, season 2 is going to be a little different.
While the absurdism is still front and center in tonight’s season opener thanks to the sight of an undead lumberjack, Man Seeking Woman is growing up.
Mike and Josh’s sister Liz (Britt Lower) were not wasted characters last season. But they definitely occupied a lower rung on the ladder compared to Josh, whose journey served as the center of attention. In this episode, though, Mike has the spotlight as he is forced to deal with the ramifications of Josh’s new romantic relationship and his nature as a clinger, which causes him to cut almost all ties with Mike and graft onto his new girlfriend’s life. Something that reveals Mike’s own clingy nature and vulnerabilities that the uber-confident ladies’ man had previously kept under wraps.
Unfortunately, Lower really doesn’t do anything in this episode and she’s not very present in the four that were made available to critics, but Rich indicates that she’s going to be given more dimension as well.
If you’ve seen Man Seeking Woman or any sitcom before, you can anticipate how the spat between these buddies will be resolved, but with this show, the journey matters more than the destination.
That means that the closeness of these two friends is celebrated not with a few jokes and/or a reference to a shared past, but with a clever (and heartfelt) metaphor for all that they have built over the years. Is it as off-the-wall as a penis monster or a face-f*cking plush? No, but what is?
You know what’s a nice thing to see? Eric Andre getting a chance to show his range as an actor while Mike does something besides try to get laid or trash the institution of coupledom. In fact, the season premiere focuses entirely on what Mike is losing because of Josh’s relationship without vilifying his new girlfriend or Josh’s need/want to be in a committed relationship. Which is a big leap forward for the character and a show whose wilder elements will be better served by the contrast of a more grounded and less brotastic and cartoonishly anti-commitment character.
Rich has vowed that the tightrope between growth and weirdness is successfully navigated, but even if that weren’t the case and this season somehow failed to match its predecessor’s level of surrealism, it ultimately wouldn’t matter. Man Seeking Woman still captivates because its sense of imagination is so far above the competition that it has points to give; and now that it has added more dimension to its characters, the show feels like it’s ready to take things to another level.
Man Seeking Woman premieres Wednesday at 10:30 PM on FXX.