My TV

08 November 2008

Undeclared: typical Apatow

By // TV

It’s official, I don’t like Judd Apatow. Now this statement may break a few hearts but it needs to be said. I’ve given him shot after shot after shot; seen most of his films and both TV shows (Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared) in their entirety, and after this most recent chore I’ve decided to come to terms with the fact that I simply don’t like his style.

Now, the Apatow cannon does have plenty of things going for it. I applaud his faith in young talents like Jason Segal, who not only stars in one of my favourite sitcoms (How I Met Your Mother) but also wrote and starred in hands down the best Apatow movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Apatow deserves some partial credit for the Michael Cera (Superbad) phenomenon when he transitioned to the big screen. I didn’t entirely hate Knocked Up (though I disliked a lot of it). There are moments in Freaks & Geeks in which I can definitely relate to the characters and there are a couple moments in Undeclared that make me laugh. End of good things.

I’ve been told that I don’t like Apatow because he’s too vulgar for my tastes; he is, but that’s not the problem. I’ve been told that I don’t relate to his characters for whatever reason and that gets in my way; I don’t, but again, not the issue. The issue is that I don’t think the man’s funny. Let’s set aside all the penis and bong humour-based films for a moment and focus on TV, because if the man can’t get me on his side after 2 TV shows, he’ll never convince me to like him.

This week I gave Undeclared a shot; I figured it had the best chance out of anything to impress me.  It didn’t fail miserably but it wasn’t a rousing success either. Here’s my assessment:

1) Let’s start with some good… I really liked Ron. Though I’ve always flip flopped on whether or not I like Seth Rogan, he was my favourite thing about Undeclared. He was so cute with his shorter hair and glasses. Ron, though still maintaining his “Im a college guy, I must do college guy things”-ness, was ultimately very sweet. He gave his friends a hard time but ultimately if they needed to be forcibly brought to a doctor he would come through. Seth Rogan is officially in my good graces (so long as I try and forget that Superbad was based on his life).

2) It’s always nice to see familiar faces. I know Jay Baruchel (Steven) from his days on Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Monica Keena (Rachel) played Abby Morgan on Dawson’s Creek, Busy Phillips, Samm Levine and Martin Star from Freaks & Geeks all showed up, Jenna Fischer (The Office) had a tiny role and frizzy hair, Amy Poehler (Head RA Hillary) is Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell (the illegal paper-writing guy) is Will Ferrell, and Ben Stiller (Eric’s former step-dad) is Ben Stiller.

3) On occasion, I laughed. I liked Lloyd’s existential crisis, the sexiled roommates in the rec room were amusing, the boys narrating the Girls Gone Wild video was a hoot and the gang torturing Lucien and the frat was pretty funny.

4) But overall, I didn’t. Fart jokes are not funny. Vomit jokes are not funny. Neither are poop jokes, virgin jokes, erection jokes, fat jokes, people being idiots, people being humiliated, people getting buckets of things dumped on them or anything to do with Adam Sandler.

5) I hated Lizzy. I didn’t much like Rachel either but I really hated Lizzy.

6) What was the point of Steven’s dad? Not funny. Not sweet. Not interesting.

7) Though Ron, Lloyd and Marshall were all pretty decent characters to follow, Steven was not a worthy protagonist. Easily the least interesting male character, Steven was not someone I cared about at all.

In the end I realized that if Undeclared had premiered this season I would have watched it. I’d have watched it but not cared that much if it weren’t around, sort of like Gary Unmarried.

So, like most Apatow fare, Undeclared had some funny moments and some sweet ones but mostly wasn’t funny enough considering the pedigree of those involved in its production.

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