[To avoid spoilers as much as I can I am not going to divulge anything even remotely important to the story ]
After getting tired of watching a slew of depressing dramas and conventional sitcoms I began looking for shows that were relatively unheard of, I got onto r/television, where I usually check out television news and discussions regarding shows I watch, I looked up the word ‘underrated’ in the subreddit and came across a few interesting titles like 12 Monkeys, Trial & Error etc. Man Seeking Woman was a series I decided to try out first because from the title, it seemed like an easy sitcom to sit through and it didn’t have too many episodes, I was also familiar with Jay Baruchel’s work in films so maybe that played a part in my decision; I hadn’t seen the trailer, nor had I looked at the description of the show, and judging by the title I assumed it was going to be a typical ‘Awkward guy having trouble finding love’ type of comedy, probably a longer version of Jay’s 2010 film ‘She’s Out Of My League‘.
But within about five minutes into the first episode, I was a bit puzzled about what was happening, after getting dumped by his girlfriend of four years, Josh Greenberg, the protagonist, a man in his late 20s is in a restaurant sitting before a ‘troll’ (in the literal sense of the word), owing to a blind date set up by his sister, it doesn’t end well, because of something insensitive muttered by Josh, and he ends up having to save himself from getting eaten up by the troll; later in the episode he ends up attending a party thrown at his ex’s house hoping to win her back, but to his surprise he discovers that she has moved on quickly and is now dating Hitler, who’s apparently still alive.
Lasting for merely three seasons, with ten episodes in each season, and every episode lasting not longer than 25 minutes, MSW takes an overfamiliar premise and treats it with a surrealist approach, there are instances and storylines in this series every millennial can relate with, like the anxieties that come up with sending a text to a person you like, or the paranoia that comes with dealing with a partner who has a suspiciously close friend from the opposite sex. In the former case, the scenario is dealt with a blockbuster Hollywood style meeting between high-ranking military officers facing a global crisis, and in the case of the latter, Josh has to deal with his girlfriend’s male best friend who’s an alien from Japan and has a body shaped like a mix between a penis-head and an octopus, and has penises for arms.
Like most shows like this, it’s often the supporting characters that carry the show, in the case of MSW too, despite the wild scenarios that Josh faces, the constant people in his life, like his sister Liz, who’s an overachiever (played wonderfully by Britt Lower), his eccentric best friend, Mike (played by Eric Andre), and his peculiar parents – an overly concerned mother (Robin Duke) and shady but endearing step-father (played by Mark McKinney) are the ones that add a strong presence to the show.
Despite its light-hearted tone, the series doesn’t shy away from entering into uncomfortable territories in its most painfully relatable moments, but even these scenarios are dealt with surrealism and funniness, by doing so it helps the audience feel a little better about themselves and to have a laugh or two about their insecurities.
Personally, Josh has been one of the most, if not the most relatable character for me, so maybe my praise for this show comes from a bit of personal bias, you might not find the show to be extraordinarily great like Atlanta (another show that often enters surreal territory, but still tries to be realistic), or consistently funny like Schitt’s Creek, some of the jokes in the episodes are hit-or-miss, but it’s never not interesting, as viewers we are always left wondering what new crisis is Josh going to face in an episode, and what absurd scenario will he find himself in to deal with that.
Despite how much the writers like to put Josh through hell, (even literally in one episode) the show doesn’t like to indulge too much in ‘cringe’ situations, like Louie or Ramy, the characters in this show often find themselves doing things they are not proud of, but they are all well-intentioned people and are often merely victims of immaturity or circumstances which they realize by the end of the episode. A show like Atlanta, or Louie would push these characters to becoming increasingly dislikeable, to make the viewers increasingly uncomfortable, but after a point one can only take so much bleakness, especially considering the state of the world right now.
MSW is a show that came too soon and aired on a network that didn’t help much with its exposure, if it were to release today it would have been an instant hit, I am surprised it lasted for three seasons, as there’s very little discussion about in even on online forums, generally you’d expect fans of underrated series to be at least having small but active discussions on the internet, but this series sadly couldn’t even get enough exposure for that; one of the top posts in the subreddit for this series is a mod post made two years ago in capital letters “THIS SUB IS FOR A NOW ENDED TV SHOW, NOT FOR ACTUAL DATING”. The subreddit has less than 2k followers and the top “hot” post is a link to an article written five months ago.
The creator had planned to keep it going for another season which would be its last, but unfortunately the network abruptly pulled the plug on it after Season 3. Despite lasting for three seasons, the season three finale felt fitting for the most part, despite some arcs being left incomplete.
In 2021, four years after its last episode aired, it seems impossible for a revival, but if a large streaming site like Netflix picks it maybe it will get the viewership and love it deserves.
The first season is its least exciting season in comparison to the other two, but stick with it till the end, you won’t regret it.
Give it a try if you are looking for something new and exciting to watch, what’s to lose?
Thanks for reading.