DAVID BIANCULLI

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MIKE HUGHES

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Annaleigh Ashford Shines in 'B Positive'
November 5, 2020  | By Mike Hughes
 


Exactly what we need as the dark winter approaches: A fresh, new star – well, new to some people – in a first-rate comedy.

The show – B Positive, at 8:30 p.m. ET, Thursdays on CBS – is no surprise, really. It's from producer Chuck Lorre whose comedies range from good to great; its Nov. 5 debut is sandwiched between two of his shows, Young Sheldon and Mom.

The first two episodes offer the sort of sharp writing we expect from Lorre, plus a bonus – Annaleigh Ashford (top), one of the show's two stars.

In B Positive, Drew (Thomas Middleditch, top, Silicon Valley) is a therapist whose life has crumbled. He's divorced, has no real friends, doesn't know his neighbors, and can barely coax a shrug out of his teen daughter. And now he needs a kidney donor.

Everyone says no except Gina (Ashford), an ex-classmate he barely knows.

We've sort of met the character before, played by Goldie Hawn or Lisa Kudrow. She's not stupid, but she doesn't think things through. She's caring but clueless. Her life bounces around like a pinball. And yes, in the Hollywood tradition, she's blonde.

Ashford seems to approach this in the way Johnny Depp does his Pirates of the Caribbean role, bringing a neat eccentricity to many of the lines of dialogue. Viewers will wonder if they've seen her before.

Well, maybe. Ashford, 35, is already familiar to fans of Showtime's Masters of Sex. She played Betty DiMello, who started as a prostitute, then married a rich guy, became a clinic receptionist, and found a lesbian romance and a painful custody case.

She's done a lot of other guest roles. And coming up next year is the latest American Crime Story on FX, and this time it's about the Bill Clinton impeachment; Ashford is Paula Jones, an early Clinton accuser.

Mostly, though, she's known on Broadway. She's done five musicals, and two plays there, winning a Tony for You Can't Take It With You and nominated for Kinky Boots. In lead roles, she understudied as Elle in Legally Blonde and took over the lead of Glinda in Wicked.

You might think that's an overload of "dumb blonde" roles, but remember this: Lorre's Big Bang Theory started by letting us believe blonde Penny was the fool in the midst of geniuses when she sometimes was the wisest person in the room. Gina is the latest member of the Lorre "dumb blonde" club, and Ashford plays her perfectly.

 
 
 
 
 
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