A TO Z: 1.01 “A is for Acquaintances”
I’ve been really excited about this new show. Not because I’ve been reading up on it or discovering anything about its premise, but because I’m just generally a fan of Ben Feldman (he was Fred from Drop Dead Diva, after all) and I’m interested to see what Cristin Milioti can do.
And I must say, despite a potentially flawed premise, I actually enjoyed what I saw.
The main reason is Ben Feldman. Feldman was instantly charismatic and likable (unlike some folks from other recent premieres). Despite being a very How I Met Your Mother‘s Ted-like dreamer, he was weirdly relatable, leaving me laughing outloud had he looked cool and manly with his friends, only to sing loudly and passionately in the car to Celine Dion’s 1990s hit “My Heart Will Go on” (I would totally do that…and let’s be honest, I probably have). True, perhaps there’s a struggle here with the fact that he is a little like Ted from HIMYM, calling back to destiny and making a first date mean more than it really should. But for Feldman, his quirky insecurities in his character really work. I found myself laughing along with him.
In fact, the only real flaw in his similarities with Ted is his costar Milioti. Because Milioti famously played the mother in HIMYM, it automatically draws comparisons between this show and HIMYM in a couple different ways. First and foremost, I’m finding myself seeing the mother in Milioti, not this new persona which includes being a successful lawyer and guarded about relationships. Somehow, Milioti just doesn’t seem to have this hard edge.
Worry not, Milioti fans. I’m certainly not trying to be a hater. While I was more hesitate about embracing her character, I’m still intrigued. She was cute. She was fun. And ultimately, once I get beyond my own comparisons, I think it’ll be fine. She’s certainly not playing the mother on this new series. She’s playing Zelda. This is my own issue, not hers.
But with that in mind, let’s go to the real elephant in the room her. The narration (which I’m not 100% sold on, but I can live with — possibly because I love Katey Sagal) has already told us how long this budding relationship will me. Which means that in order for this show to be sustainable, we will either have to have them break up at that point and find their way back to each other. Or they’ll have to move from dating to engaged (or I suppose married). Either way, it all seems too focused on the end point, which again brings us back to HIMYM. That show, too, was so focused on one story — how Ted met the mother — that when it veered off-course, the audience balked. It struggled to remain high quality within the bounds of its own structure. This show has a very tight structure as well, possibly with more limitations. If they dated this long, does that mean they really can’t break up any time before that? There’s no tension with jealousies because they clearly stay together? If it’s all focused on Andrew and Zelda, can side characters even have their own stories?
It’s tough to tell. But right now, it’s incredibly enjoyable. I’m excited to see another episode — the first comedy I can say that about this season. So kudos, A to Z. Let’s turn the page and see what happens next in this story.
If you’re bothered about all the HIMYM comparisons in this post, note that I’m not the only one. Here are a few other pieces making the comparison. Note: I watched this episode and wrote this post before reading these pieces, so they didn’t influence my opinion.