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Netflix's 'The Kominsky Method' is For the Guys
November 16, 2018  | By David Hinckley

Attention, all guys: Don’t let the gender diversity in the cast of Netflix’s new comedy The Kominsky Method fool you into thinking this is some kind of female-centric rom-com.

Oh, you’ll see a couple of terrific female characters when The Kominsky Method becomes available Friday, but with all due respect, this show is also a charming old-guy buddy tale.

Michael Douglas (top) plays Sandy Kominsky, who has parlayed a short run of acting success into a long run as a very successful acting coach. That’s what he’s doing now, many years later, with admirable enthusiasm and just enough hints of weariness.

Alan Arkin (top) plays Norman, Sandy’s best friend forever and his agent for almost as long.

We understand their relationship from the first moments of their first scene, when Sandy meets Norman at a restaurant and Norman tells him he didn’t get a role he wanted in a new TV show.

Once they get that news out of the way, they spend most of the lunch busting each other. It’s what they’re wearing, what they’re drinking, everything. It’s classic guy bonding behavior and even classic guy bonding vernacular, where “Screw you,” or words to that effect really mean “I love you, man.”

After all these years, they don’t have to say the love part. They’ve probably never said it. It’s understood. So they can go right to the “screw you” part. 

In any case, Arkin and Douglas nail their comic timing, both in their scenes with each other and in Douglas’s scenes with the students in his acting class.

Sandy and Norman even rip through a “who’s on first” routine triggered by Norman’s reference to the rapper Ludacris, who of course is unfamiliar to Sandy.

All this said, The Kominsky Method does have a serious side and a feminine side.

Norman’s wife Eileen (Susan Sullivan), who is also an old friend of Sandy’s, has one of the problems that old people develop. Norman’s daughter Phoebe (Lisa Edelstein) has one of the problems that younger people can develop.

Sandy also has a daughter, Mindy (Sarah Baker), who has a tongue as sharp as Sandy’s. Mindy and Sandy also disguise their deep affection with snippy insults and challenges.

So that’s the core family, soon joined by wild-card outsider Lisa (Nancy Travis), who decided to spend some of her divorce money on Sandy’s acting class.

Lisa has a backstory, some of which we start to learn when Sandy takes her out for coffee. He justifies this preliminary test run to the skeptical Eileen by saying Lisa is far more age-appropriate than most of the students he either dated or tried to date.

As The Kominsky Method rolls along, we also get more drama from a half dozen or so acting class students. That’s a lot of potential quirks and Chuck Lorre, who created the show and is co-executive producer alongside Douglas, brings in as many as time permits.

Being on Netflix and all, The Kominsky Method lets Lorre shed some of the restraints he faced on broadcast television with shows like Two and a Half Men.

Didn’t know that one had any restraints, did you?

While Kominsky doesn’t get too much into graphic love scenes, it’s fairly loose with language and doesn’t pass up any chance to deploy an elbow-in-the-ribs sex joke.

As so often happens, those jokes quickly feel unnecessary and often irrelevant. Two minutes with Sandy and Norman are a far more irresistible lure.

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