My Boys – “Dudes Being Dudes”

“Dudes Being Dudes”

July 17th, 2008

When it was revealed that My Boys was abandoning the workplace side of the series, they weren’t kidding: ever since PJ’s failed novel attempt, the show has become a relationship comedy as quickly as Stephanie’s book managed to get written, published and read. The entire series is revolving around a series of relationships, which results in some of your usual typecasting.

What I mean by that is simple: those in relationships (Andy and Jo’s threat against his marriage, PJ serving as the potential disruption to Bobby and Elsa’s wedded bliss) are given all dramatic material or storylines, which leaves everyone else to fill one of the typical roles. Mike and Kenny are relegated to pure comic relief, Brendan is wallowing in his poverty although he gets a bit of a leg up here, and Stephanie’s book serves as a framework of sorts (albeit it a loose and poorly defined one) for the series’ new trajectory.

And while it didn’t make “Dudes Being Dudes” a poor episode, it did make it an extremely predictable one – ever since Bobby was on that plane to Italy, the show has been phoning it in as opposed to breaking down any of our preconceptions.

First off, I have to ask the obvious question: as the episode follows Bobby’s bachelor party, why is it precisely that his Brother (Who we presume is involved in his filthy rich family) didn’t pony up some of the bill? Clearly, I don’t have much experience in this arena, but considering the wealth of the family I really don’t understood the reason for making everyone pay their way other than to stick it to Brendan in a contrived fashion.

And really, the Bachelor Party brought the worst out of everyone: it brought out clueless and obnoxious Mike, misguided party planning Kenny, blind to the consequences Andy, and (worst of all) whiny PJ. We get that she doesn’t like being excluded, but I really miss the days when PJ was at least moderately likable. I don’t really blame Jordana Spiro, but something about PJ this season just seems off. I think the biggest issue is that, in losing the workplace setting, she is actually completely defined by her friendship with the guys and her sexual attraction to Bobby (And, tonight, Bobby’s brother).

And that’s fine if the character is given interesting material to work with in that arena, but it’s not: the second she flirts with Bobby’s brother and still does a favour for Bobby, you know the trajectory. PJ blurts out the reason she took him to Italy, he gets awkward about it, they don’t get a chance to really talk about it, and then he leaves pondering what he’s leaving behind while PJ makes out with Jack. It’s got some dramatic potential, but the show is being so slow in building to it (This series of episodes has only nine segments, so we’re two thirds there) that I don’t know what kind of impact it will have.

Getting a bit more time, but not enough, is Andy and his new BFF Jo. It’s getting a bit old, though, to have him play clueless to her advances (Midnight phone call after a bad date? PJ was annoying, but she was right about that part of it anyways). I’ll be curious to see where they take this, and how exactly they plan on resolving it. Do they just disappear her character, have her leave in a huff, or find some way for her to continue on for a bit longer after that major issue is resolved. Nia Vardalos is cute in the role, but it’s very slight when neither character is given much time to develop independent of the rest of the gang (In other words, let us see the two characters outside of the context of everyone else, particularly PJ).

And I’m still confused at the Writers’ decision to turn Kenny into Mike, and Mike into, well, another Mike. Kenny, in particular, doesn’t seem like he’d be this clueless – the two roles are scarily interchangeable at this stage of the game, and I don’t know if I like that. Kenny doesn’t seem like the type to light up in a non-smoking bar or bring strippers/props to such a classy party – those seem like Mike tricks, but he was busy wearing silly boots and doing silly catchphrases. Neither really added anything to the equation, and even the comic relief was all over the map.

Really, the only non-relationship character with any development was Brendan, who made a new work-related friend in John, Bobby’s best friend we saw briefly when we first found out about his wealth. It’s a good way of getting him back on the right path, and his future position at Neon might just be able to give the show a new standing set. But, right now, I wish they’d give us a bit more originality and consistency in the ones they’ve got.

Cultural Observations

  • It took me a while to place it, but I realized that John was being played by Adrian Wenner, who I recognized as Elliot’s med student Philip at the end of Scrubs’ first season. He was great in that little role, and turns out he’s transitioned his career into writing – he scripted two episodes of this series, including the recent “Spit Take” on top of his appearance as Bobby’s friend last season. He’s a charming actor, so I’m curious why he decided on the career change – seems to suit him, though, since he co-wrote the great “Douchebag Intervention” last season.
  • Stephanie’s popularity at the old women party was kind of frustrating – the book’s sudden popularity feels like such a cliche, and I thought it was written under more of a pen name than that (in other words, what’s the point of a pen name when there’s a picture of you?)

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