After Bridesmaids was a big hit Paul Feig was suddenly seen as the next big thing in comedy, with it somewhat patronisingly being suggested he was so amazing as he made women funny on film, despite them being that for oh, ten or so decades prior. Since then he’s not really delivered however, writing the quite good but not great Ghostbusters reboot, the quite good but not great Spy, the slightly rubbish animated sitcom Other Space, and directing the only okay films Last Christmas and A Simple Favour.
Now he’s teamed up with the new streaming service HBO Max to produce an anthology series with writer director Sam Boyd, with this first ten episode season revolving around Darby Carter (Anna Kendrick) and the different romances of her life. In some ways it feels like a slightly updated Sex And The City as there’s a patronising voice over informing us of how many relationships the average person has until they meet the love of their life, before telling us about Darby’s life, who we learn struggled to connect with people because of her parents failed relationship, at least until she meets Augie Jeong (Jin Ha).
Darby and Augie initially get together at a party, but then he doesn’t call for a while and Darby’s understandably frustrated, and we learn this due to some irritating scenes between Darby and her housemates discussing the rules of making contact with someone you’ve slept with and it’s the kind of bullshit you’d expect teenagers to come out with, and drunk, stupid teenagers at that. When he finally gets in touch she doesn’t comment on his idiocy, and she’s back in bed with the guy in under thirty seconds (screen time, at least), and a montage of them falling in love follows, packed full of cliched romcom tedium of the absolute worst kind.
Augie then reveals he’s got to go on the road for work, and possibly move to Washington afterwards, with him suggesting that due to this their relationship can’t go anywhere. They decide to stick together until he leaves though, but on his last night when they go to Darby’s boss’s wedding she’s pissy with him, and it’s impossible not to blame her, unless you wonder why she stuck with this twat for so long in the first place. Then they confess that they love each other, he leaves, and that narration returns and is so pretentious and annoying if it had lasted a single second longer I’d have feared for the life of my television.
Like Sex And The City it’s full of characters sprouting supposedly fascinating ideas about love, like Darby’s friend Sarah who clunkily suggests “People can love people and still fuck other people”, and rather than being an insight in to the lead character’s life as a whole it only cares about the men she’s romantically involved with and the effect they have on her. As romcoms go this first episode is painfully by the numbers too, being a tepid tale of girl meets boy, they date a bit and then they split up and it has nothing of interesting to say in the slightest, unless you weren’t aware that sometimes relationships just don’t work out and no one’s really to blame (well, bar Augie for going after his dream job, anyhow).
Anna Kendrick’s proven herself to a skilled comic actor over the years but she’s given little to do here other than either look anxious or in love, Augie’s a thinly drawn character who we’re given no real reason to like, and the conversations Darby has with her friends about love and romance are of a humdrum variety that have nothing original or insightful to say. I’m amazed this is one of the show’s chosen to launch HBO Max with as it’s shockingly bland, with a script that is sluggishly shit, and direction which is of the soap opera variety, and I only hope it’s a failure so that HBO Max invest in the kind of shows that made their parent company famous rather than pointless nonsense like this.