MAN SEEKING WOMAN Blasted Entitled Nice Guys in Its Latest Brilliant Episode
This article contains spoilers for S2, E7, entitled "Cactus."
If you're not watching Man Seeking Woman, I urge you to check it out. I think it's one of the most underrated comedies on TV right now, and it certainly isn't getting the praise or attention it deserves. The premise of the show is genius: based on a book by creator and showrunner Simon Rich, it comically embellishes and literalizes aspects of life in order to make its points about life and love in your late twenties. (A quick example: The main character desperately wants to make a move on a girl he's interested in, but he's nervous and scared. They're watching a movie together on TV, when a breaking news bulletin interrupts the broadcast and informs them that a meteor is about to hit the Earth, and the anchors implore the viewers that if there's anything they're waiting to do, now's the time to do it. The meteor is diverted at the last minute, and the incident will likely never be referenced again. This kind of thing happens multiple times per episode.)
The show features a terrific lead performance from Jay Baruchel, who's brought shades of humor and soulfulness to his character that he's never been given the opportunity to play before. And like Seinfeld before it, practically every episode captures an essential truth about relationships or modern life that makes me shake my head in awe at how perfectly it managed to pinpoint that specific idea.
Case in point: this week's episode (Season 2, Ep. 7, "Cactus") takes on the concept of entitled nice guys in a way I've never seen on television before. Baruchel's character, Josh Greenberg, has a crush on a female co-worker named Rosa (Rosa Salazar), who's just broken up with her boyfriend. She and Josh are friendly at the office, and share a lot of the same interests, and he's secretly thrilled when he hears she's single because he thinks he's a shoo-in to be able to date her. He offers to help her move into a new apartment, thinking that'll give him a leg up against the competition (whom the show literalizes by showing a line of guys pining for her outside of their office building), but when he eventually does make his move, he's turned away; Rosa just wants to be friends.
Josh, upset about the "man hours" he's put into this would-be relationship, goes before (a hilariously sexist) Congress and gets them to pass a law that says that people must now date the person who's nicest to them. Considering this a win, Josh returns to his apartment, where a dirty homeless man holds the door open for him. Before he can seek out Rosa, the homeless man enters Josh's place and uses his new law against him. Josh was grateful for the man holding the door open, he's certainly not attracted to him, but that doesn't deter the man, who now expects Josh to have sex with him. Josh learns his lesson about entitlement, but has to deal with the consequences by lawfully being forced to date the homeless guy until the law is eventually repealed.
I can't remember seeing something like this on TV before. The series used its white male protagonist to explore a feminist concept in a way that didn't feel preachy, momentarily putting its main character (essentially) in a modern woman's position to allow him a much-needed change of perspective that ultimately benefits everyone — including the audience, who hopefully learned something if that lesson still needed to sink in.
Aside from being consistently hilarious, Man Seeking Woman is quietly revolutionary — yet another reason everyone should be watching this show. I'm dreading the idea that it gets cancelled and eventually becomes beloved when people finally stumble across it years later. Watch this show now and spread the word about it. Don't wait until it's too late.
Man Seeking Woman airs at 10pm, Wednesdays on FXX.