My Boys: "Addition by Subtraction" and "Gourmets and Confused"

My Boys: "Addition by Subtraction" and "Gourmets and Confused"

I watched the first two season of My Boys and then took a break last season, partially just because I forgot to DVR it.  It’s that kind of show: I never found anything wrong with it, yet I never found anything so right about it that I felt like I was missing out when I wasn’t watching.

What I both like and don’t like about the show is that it took approximately three minutes for me to catch up on what I missed while I was away:  Stephanie and Kenny are now dating as are Bobby and P.J. In addition, as explained through some clunky Exposition 101, Andy's moved to China. "Man, I can't believe Andy moved to China!" "Well he did get a promotion at work." Other than that, the show remains pretty much the same: a co-ed group of Chicago buddies hangs out and has fun. It’s low-stakes yet still more enjoyable than it should be for the few amount of risks it takes.  

To wit, the biggest problem in the premiere was how P.J. and her group of pals are going to replace Andy in the weekly poker game. All the scenes take place in the neighborhood bar, the poker game, at brunch or during flashbacks of how all the characters originally met (which seems a little odd for a show's fourth season premiere).  In “Gourmets and Confused,” after the couples leave a fancy restaurant because of the hoity-toity service, they eat the pot brownies that Brendan and Mike were going to consume but decided to eschew in favor of a high-class guys’ night out. 

Plotwise, these storylines are pretty light but the show employs some cute and occasionally wittily off-kilter writing (sexy women wear skirts with slits up the side “...to distract jurors”), a relaxed and happy cast (I enjoyed everyone’s Jim Gaffigan impressions in the first episode) and general good-naturedness.  I've always especially enjoyed the relationship between P.J. and Stephanie, which is more laid-back and funny than most female friendships on TV.

I’ve really never been able to tell whether I really want more from My Boys: perhaps its airy lack of nutrition is an inherent part of its charm. If the show was really about a whole lot more, took on more risks and challenged its viewers, would I like it as much? I rarely feel this way about a show, to like it without feeling invested in it: I either really love a show to the point where I could binge on it for hours at a time, or it’s some sort of reality TV show where I mostly tune in to see what happens (like Intervention) without a real sense of “like” or “dislike”.  Anything else typically goes unwatched.  There isn’t much to say about My Boys after you finish an episode, and I don’t necessarily feel like I could watch three more, yet I always feel like I was pretty well entertained.  Do you really need a lot more from a TV show, anyway?

For a summer series, I think you could argue that taking viewers on a journey to the center of the mind really isn’t necessary, especially when the writing accomplishes the easier-than-it-looks tasks of being unchallenging yet intelligent: while I don’t feel titillated, exactly, I never feel like I’m too good for the show. The series captures the fun and cameraderie of young adulthood, as long as we’re talking about young adults with easy jobs, few responsibilities and money to burn.  It’s to the writers’ credit that despite the lack of serious real-life problems the show takes on, the bro-hood of the cast doesn’t come off as bratty, deluded or entitled.  If the show tried just a little bit harder, I might be able to love it a little bit more, but then again, I could just end up not liking it at all.  

--I wonder how much more enjoyable the show is for past or present Chicagoans, who could make a drinking game out of the city references (never terribly obscure) sprinkled through the show.  

--I was a little surprised by Kenny’s saying “This is bullshit!” during the season premiere, as that seemed almost edgy for the series.

--”I hope it’s not Piven.”  Don’t we all.

--Everyone should be forced to marry ketchup bottles once in their lives”: I agree, Bobby. 

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