04 October 2011
Watching the CBS Upfronts last May I was really impressed by 2 Broke Girls and thought How to be a Gentleman looked pretty darn stupid. But as 2 Broke Girls enters its third week of existence I’m disappointed to find it going down in quality pretty quickly (though I am enjoying this Johnny character and Caroline is still enchanting, even if the dialogue is overwrought). Whitney Cummings’ other show Whitney, on the other hand, is so far getting better. Meanwhile, back on CBS, I was surprised to find the premiere of How to be a Gentleman thoroughly enjoyable, if not particularly groundbreaking.
Series creator (and pilot scribe) David Hornsby is adorable as Andrew, a sort of Niles Crane for a new generation, and Kevin Dillon puts his iconic Johnny Drama-ness to good use as the obnoxious but well intentioned former bully Bert. Rhys Darby and Mary Lynn Rajskub are good fun in the supporting roles of Andrew’s unsupportive family and Dave Foley makes a fun appearance as his weak willed boss.
Despite appearances, Andrew isn’t a privileged character- a gentleman by choice rather than birth. That fact is a double edged sword- preventing the show from slipping into easy generalizations (making Andrew his own character, instead of an upper class representative) but also keeping interesting commentary about the behavioural ramifications of the class divide at arms length. How to be a Gentleman isn’t about content or social commentary, it’s about style and how being limited to a strict one can result in just being a thug or a wimp instead of full person. It’s kind of interesting but not interesting enough for the writers to allow the jokes to slip as they move forward. Here’s hoping the show enjoys the upward momentum of Whitney instead of the downward slide of 2 Broke Girls.