On September 29th, HBO debuted its new comedy, “Hello, Ladies.” Overall, it had lots of hits, a few misses, and a leftover feeling of melancholy that reminds me of why I haven’t been in the dating scene for six years. (Side note: that’s actually the reason I wanted this show. As a single woman looking for a man these days, I try desperately to avoid some of the men seen in this show.) There are so many people – men and women – who don’t care about much beyond one night. Do I want the characters in “Hello, Ladies” to have long, great relationships? Yes. It gives me hope for the world. Will it happen? Eh, no, because then the show would lose its premise. That being said, the show is pretty funny. When bad things happened to main character Stuart Pritchard, I found it hilarious and that he often deserved that ill turn. I mean, the show opens its pilot with an abortion joke (of which we wrote about earlier at HBOWatch, though that clip is now gone from the internet). Some of these characters are immediately relatable; others make me cringe at their awkwardness. Most, though, have a beautiful blend between the two, which I think is the real charm of this show.
If you have yet to watch “Hello, Ladies,” start! It’s a good British-Meets-American-Humor show with a very nice ensemble. If you’re looking for more info about it first, let’s continue. Don’t be surprised to see some similarities between “Seinfeld” characters and these people created by Stephen Merchant & Co.
I’ll get started by introducing the characters:
Stuart Pritchard (Stephen Merchant): A mid-30s web designer who recently moved to LA from England. Stuart’s main pickup line is the eponymous “Hello ladies.” It always fails, as do his efforts to get women. He tries but favors the young, spunky, empty-headed types that offer no real substance to a relationship. When he had a chance to connect with an attractive, smart woman, he ended up dumping her to talk to Jessica’s airhead friends. Also, he’s not a great friend to Wade, who really needs someone right now. Half the time I want bad things to happen to Stuart because he’s being an ass; other times, I feel a bit sad for him. He puts up this wonderfully happy exterior, but, inside, he’s miserable and lonely. In the pilot episode, we begin by seeing him driving alone, going to the grocery store to buy a microwaveable dinner, and eating alone. That’s also how the episode ends. In true tradition of this type of show, I will call him Jerry.
Jessica (Christine Woods): Stuart’s tenant and friend who works as an actress and writer. She tries to find self-respect by not letting a man over just for sex, then wants to have a salon for her friends. Of course, those friends are too shallow and just want to go clubbing. Le sigh. I find so many things about Jessica relatable. No, not that having a man over sex part, but her struggle to find out who she is among people that want to party and talk about diets, clubs, and drinks. As a woman who has zero interest in those things, I feel her pain in wanting to have intellectual conversations about North Korea and other worldly, non-party atmosphere things. Jessica, you shall be Elaine.
Wade (Nate Torrence): Poor Wade. He begins the pilot episode correcting two women about his name (“Not Wayne. Wade. As in Roe v. Wade.“), and thus sets us up for the abortion joke from Stuart. He’s unwillingly separated from his wife of several years and constantly talks about how sad and lonely he is without her. In episode two, Wade’s wife tells him that she doesn’t want to talk to him for a month. Poor Wade starts counting down the time until they can talk again. He’s weepy and a bit pathetic, but you can tell that this separation has hit him hard. His friends, especially Stuart, are not always that supportive, which makes me love Wade and feel for him even more. He may be the most relatable of all these characters. With his awkwardness, inability to get over past issues, and dour attitude, he’s George, except that Jerry supported George through the bad times.
Kives (Kevin Weisman): Man, what to say about Kives (pronounced Key-vez)? In the pilot episode, I think he’s nothing more than a jerk looking to score. And that’s fairly right on the money. Kives is handicapped and stays in a wheelchair (except when he makes Stuart carry him somewhere) but has no trouble getting women. Both episodes so far have shown him ending up with at least one women before the night is out. He’s introduced as an annoying accompaniment to Wade going out, and Stuart despises him. I see him as a typical shark out for bait (i.e. girls to hook up with) and he somehow succeeds. In the pilot, Kives goes around a bar asking the women, “Dating, mating, or masturbating?” Just no. NO, KIVES, NO. If he’d said that to me, I’d throw a drink in his face; the girls in the club, however, find it quite hilarious and love him. I don’t get it or see it. In his quest to always get a girl, though, he does show kindness to people that others (read that as Stuart) overlook. I have so many mixed emotions about Kives: yes, he’s as much an ass as Stuart, but he also is kind to almost everyone, even if he only means to score. I name thee Kramen (Kramer + Newman).
Now, let’s talk about the first two episodes. So far, “Hello Ladies” has received a 58% rating from Metacritic.com. Not too bad, but it could be better. As I’ve said, some of the characters (like Stuart and Kives) seem shallow and are, as yet, somewhat undeveloped. Stuart will likely develop much more as the season progresses, but Kives is more of a minor, almost background character. If “Hello Ladies” does work on showing us more dimensions to Stuart, Jessica, and Wade, I think this show could last a while. I hope it’s going to be about more than simply dating. I’d love to see all four characters get into some crazy situations, which we did see in episode two, “The Limo.” I’m really hoping most of “Hello Ladies” will be like that.
Episode One, “Pilot”: I must say, I love this opening song. It’s perfect for this show in so many ways. Then we see Stuart at the grocery store getting that microwave dinner, going home, cooking it, and eating it alone. Jessica’s hookup comes out and eats a chicken wing that Stuart offers before leaving. Then it’s Jessica and Stuart talking and trying not to commiserate over bad relationships.
When Jessica was introduced, I expected her to be a lesbian simply because having two awkward characters of the opposite sex who are close friends (or tenant/renter, in this case) is a trite set up for a future relationship. She isn’t gay, though, so there is a bit of uncomfortableness when we see her with Stuart. I want both of these people to be happy, even if Stuart is a (somewhat) shallow ass who deserves lots of these bad things. Longterm, will we see Stuart and Jessica together? I’d bet money on that answer being “yes.” They have great chemistry and I do want good things to happen to Jessica (if for no other reason than to have hope as a single woman in her late twenties). Random Hookup Guy decides not to have dinner with Jessica that week as he leaves.
Stuart and Wade are outdoors with Wade’s daughter, and Wade’s misery is palpable. He doesn’t know what to do himself now that his marriage is crumbling. Sleeping with random people isn’t Wade’s cup of tea. His anniversary is coming up on Friday, so Stuart makes plans to take him out for steak and bowling. Right now, I really love Stuart. Just know that fades quickly.
Next, Stuart is talking to Rory, a man that apparently works for him in designing websites. In another room, Jessica is working with an actress named Courtney who is starring in her web series. Stuart calls Jessica in hopes of seeing Courtney because they totally hit it off last time (note sarcasm!) they were together. Stuart worms his way over to Jessica and Courtney and begins to embarrass himself but hitting on Courtney by asking if she has a website, as he could design one for her. Courtney is going to the opening of a new club, Saboteur, and Stuart invites himself along. But he has plans with Wade… which Stuart immediately cancels because he has a “sick Aunt Barbara.” My hatred for Stuart is growing as quickly as my pity for Wade. Then, to appease Jessica and seem like a great guy to Courtney, he invites Wade to the club, and Wade brings along Kives.
When they get to the club, Stuart is soon far in over his head. He asks Courtney and a two of her friends want drinks; turns out, all 30 or so of her friends want drinks, too! Champagne, gin and tonics, vodka twists, wine… all on Stuart’s dime. I love it and he totally deserved this. He can’t squeeze in next to Courtney, who wants nothing to do with him except using him for a few free drinks. Stuart trips and falls in the tray holding all the drinks and people can see he has a condom in his shirt pocket. He ends up leaving in shame. Wade hasn’t picked up anyone either, even though he had a fantastic time, but Kives leaves with a pretty blonde girl. Stuart carries Kives up a flight up stairs to his apartment, then tucks Wade into bed. The episode ends with Stuart at the grocery store alone again, buying a microwaveable dinner; he goes home, sees Random Hookup Guy in the apartment but doesn’t see Jessica. She’s hiding from him to reclaim her self respect. After that guy leaves, Stuart asks if she wants do something. Jessica answers she’s going to bed. Stuart is left alone again.
Episode Two, “The Limo”: Wade rents a limo for a date with his wife, which she turns down. At the same time, Stuart and Jessica are trying to leave, but he keeps having to interrupt Wade’s conversation in his attempts to move a van. It is classically hilarious and may be my favorite scene from the show so far. It’s realistically awkward – I could see this happening in real life to real people so easily.
Stuart, Wade, and Kives decide to take the limo out to an elite club which Stuart insists he can get into. All the while, he’s talking about marrying a gorgeous model with a degree in philosophy and driving back into his hometown with a limo, much like that beautiful blonde woman on a billboard they drive past. Stuart tries very hard to get into the club but is denied over and over. On their way out somewhere else, the boys pick up three female visitors from St. Louis and are quite intent on entertaining them. Meanwhile, Jessica is trying to get three of her friends interested in a salon she’s hosting: jazz music, wine, and “Battleship Potemkin.” It fails miserably because the women don’t care and only want to drink, party, and talk about clubs. Oh, Jess, I’ve been there, my friend! Eventually, Jessica mentions that Stuart & Co. have a limo for the night and calls to see if they can join the boys. Stuart is ecstatic and immediately turns his attention away from one of the St. Louis women, who has been interesting, funny, and nice and is pretty. He wants so badly to get with one of these airheads that it’s just sad. The women get into the club with Stuart, who then changes his mind about staying after hearing one of them is engaged. He runs back to the limo and turns his attention back to the earlier woman from St. Louis. She immediately tells him to “F–k off;” he so deserved that! The limo proceeds to drop off Kives and the three women, then Wade all alone. Wade is lamenting the fact that his wife wants 30 days without them talking, which he insists he cannot do. Again, Stuart isn’t much help. The limo goes back to pick up Jessica from the club, and she and Stuart finish the evening eating expensive limo food to end the show.
Overall, “Hello Ladies” has a very solid start. With more character development, I think it could be a true hit. Is it like “Seinfeld,” as I said earlier? Yes. You have the kooky characters all trying to find themselves and fit in together without much luck. The chemistry between Stuart/Jerry and Jessica/Elaine is there, just like crazy Kives and pathetic Wade. I think this show could be around for a while if they work on situational dating comedy, which “Seinfeld” was great at doing. I want to see more of this show and where it will go. Until next week, my friends!