Man Seeking Woman burst onto our television (or whatever) screens last year with its absurd take on dating, often swapping the real world for a torturous and hilarious fantasy realm where almost anything could happen… save for main character Josh Greenberg (Jay Baruchel) finding happiness.
This season, with his torch for his former serious girlfriend, Maggie, finally extinguished, Josh and the surrounding show could have doubled down on the weird and wonderful chase through the singles scene. But while that part of the show is still represented, something is a bit different in season two. In this interview with series creator Simon Rich, we discuss the challenge of adding depth to Man Seeking Woman‘s characters while not losing the identity of the show, the impact of losing Maggie as a character, the arrival of Rosa into Josh (and Mike’s) life, and this year’s batch of freaky creations.
Last season obviously centered on Josh’s quest to try to — at once — recapture Maggie’s love and kind of move on from her. What’s the central theme this season?
Simon Rich: This season is very much about unrequited love. The first season, I would say, is more about getting over heartbreak. This season is a lot more active. Most of the season involves Josh’s desperate quest to date a woman he works with named Rosa. Unfortunately for him, he gets embroiled in a competition with his best friend Mike (Eric Andre) for her. Which threatens to destroy the relationship forever. It’s very much about the pain of unrequited love and wanting the things that you can’t have. And that is a theme that appears in Josh’s story, but you also see it in Liz’s arc and in Mike’s as well. It is, for all the characters, about the pain of loving someone who isn’t necessarily right for you.
What are some of the benefits and what are some of the drawbacks of moving on from the Maggie story?
The Maggie story was really useful for a first season because it allowed us to give the characters an immediate back story and it gave us a good hook to start out with. It kind of justified why the narrative was starting now. In the first episode of the series, when Josh gets dumped he’s really plunged into the dating world for the very first time. We established that he was in a relationship [for] years and years so his experiences in season one are very much his first adult dating experiences. This season, we needed to move on. We decided to try to come up with a new narrative which would hopefully push Josh and Mike and all the other characters forward and have them looking to the future instead of the past.
The season premiere kind of feels like a “Mike episode.” Are we going to see more independent storyline that focus on Mike this season? What kind of growth are we going to see?
We’ll see multiple episodes this year that are from perspectives other than Josh’s. Obviously, Josh remains the main character and most of the episodes will focus on him. But, yeah, there will be the lead on multiple episodes with protagonists other than Josh. I think this year, we’ve worked hard to three-dimensionalize our characters and also the relationships with one another.
We tried to make the show more narratively propulsive and more dramatic and to really put our characters relationships to the test. I think with Mike, in particular, viewers will be surprised to see that a lot of his chauvinistic attitude is something of a pose, and that deep down, he’s as vulnerable as the rest of us. We’ll eventually even get to see what he’s like in a relationship.