Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Mulaney is yet another sitcom about a stand-up comedian in the recent string of sitcoms about stand-up comedians. It is, however, the most lighthearted of the bunch. So if Louie and Garfunkel and Oates are a little too raunchy or distasteful for you, Mulaney is a much safer bet.
In the real world, John Mulaney is a successful stand-up comedian; in the sitcom about his life, he appears to be a wannabe stand up comic who works for a talk show host to pay the bills. John lives with his two best friends, Motif (Seaton Smith) and Jane (Nasim Pedrad). Motif is a comedian who panders to his entirely black audience. And strangely enough, their other roommate, Jane, is a woman who finds very, very little funny, namely stand-up comedy. Which will surely ensue in hilarity (and awkwardness).
In the series premiere, Mulaney brings Jane to a taping to his boss’s talk show. When she doesn’t laugh, John demands that she fake a laugh at one of Lou Cannon’s (Martin Short) jokes to boost his self-esteem. But when she does, John’x life quickly spirals out of his control. Lou becomes enthralled by Jane’s fake laugh—which he believes to be real—and pays her to be his trophy wife. Meanwhile, Motif’s comedy routine is turned upside down when his fans discover that he had a happy childhood, not the dark one he makes jokes about.
Motif’s storyline is rather amusing, but doesn’t have any sort of fulfilling resolution. His jokes weren’t funny from the start, and only get worse after his comedic overhaul. And the introduction of Oscar (Elliott Gould) to this plot line was awkward and forced. It seems as though the producers snagged Gould last minute and wrote him a measly part. He is almost flamboyantly gay, but restrains himself, which results in a series of uncomfortable interactions. This part wasn’t written well and it appears to be out of Gould’s range anyway.
The main storyline, on the other hand, is actually quite funny. Mulaney is obviously hilarious and has successfully mastered the art of playing the sad, defeated puppy. And he plays perfectly with Pedrad, who steals the show with her portrayal of the incredibly sassy Jane. Though her “real” laugh is amusing, it doesn’t sound the least bit real and will very quickly become grating if she keeps it up.
On multiple occasions, Mulaney calls Jane his “friend,” to ensure that the audience is well aware that the two are not, in fact, in a relationship. Without that being explicitly stated, it would be an easy mistake to assume they were dating. Which makes me believe that there will be a lot of “will-they-won’t they” going on throughout the series. It is probably a safe assumption to say that they (or another character) will question why they aren’t dating within the first few episodes.
Mulaney might not have been an uproarious knee-slapper, but it was solidly funny throughout. And the humor is surprisingly more tame than most other sitcoms on the air today. If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy or sitcoms in general, Mulaney is probably right up your alley.
Mulaney airs Sundays 9:30/10pm.