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New FXX 'Man Seeking Woman' Makes Love Unreal
January 14, 2015  | By Eric Gould

Maybe call it a case of Walter Mitty gone hapless instead of heroic. Twenty-something Josh Greenberg, unlucky in love, finds his romantic troubles flying wildly off into the fantastical realm. After breaking up with his girlfriend, his first blind date turns out to be a troll. Not an unpleasant, coarsely behaved young woman, but an actual grunting troll with a bad underbite and slimy green skin.

Needless to say, it’s not a great match. Later in the pilot, Josh (Jay Baruchel, How to Train Your Dragon) gets invited to the ex’s party and meets her new boyfriend. We won’t spoil the surprise, (and it’s not without its merits) but suffice to say it’s someone you wouldn’t ever expect to show up in a romantic comedy. He’s been thought dead and is chosen probably since he’s the most objectionable character you could find.

And so go the flights of magic realism in the new FXX comedy Man Seeking Woman, premiering tonight (Wednesday, January 14) at 10:30 p.m., ET. Where a lot of shows occasionally put characters into escapist fantasy or dream sequences so they can float outside their usual boundaries, Man Seeking Woman is built on them, regularly conjuring them into each episode to characterize Josh’s basic ineffectualness in the dating world around him.

Later in the same pilot he gets a personal call from President Obama for successfully meeting a girl on the train (SNL's Vanessa Bayer, below with Baruchel) and asking her out for dinner.

Based on Simon Rich’s book of short stories, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, the three installments sent for review of the 10-episode comedy follow Josh through a painful breakup, trying to date, and skirting into a blooming love affair. Along the way, he’s side-tracked by interrupting sex aliens or escorted into a DEFCON situation room where generals and his domineering sister Liz (Britt Lower) script the exact language of his text to set up a date.

In another episode not yet scheduled for air, Josh is called to a fully-impaneled courtroom adjoining his apartment where he is prosecuted for possibly considering cheating on a new girlfriend. And there's the recurring rain cloud that just showers only on him, and with a nod to the memorable scene in Magnolia, live ducks come down in the storm.

Baruchel, a frequent Seth Rogan sidekick (most notably in 2013’s wildly funny apocalyptic send-up, This Is the End) squinting and disbelieving, hits all his emotional marks as Josh, a polite, underachieving guy whose plight is being a single male in the city. Shy, reserved and sincere, Josh is continually split as he struggles to be what he thinks a guy should be: forward, confident and conquering. 

Man Seeking Woman plows some familiar surrealist ground, as did companion FXX show Wilfred, which just completed, although Josh’s sanity is never questioned. The fantasies come without explanation and we assume it’s all part of his harmless daydreaming. And it conjures comparisons to other series built on recurring escapism like Pushing Daisies (2007-09) Northern Exposure (1990-95) or, more recently, the regularly fantastical Community.

Those would put Man Seeking Woman, fusing its magical and mundane, in pretty good company. While the series rehashes lots of rom-com territory about the foibles of single life, it’s premise has its charm, often making it an unpredictable madcap romp into love and loss.

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