Television Review: Workaholics Season 1

I mainly watched this show because it was on Netflix Instant Watch. I had just finished watching the Walking Dead and was looking to watch something during lunch one day. In lieu of putting on an episode of The Office or Parks and Recreation, I decided to give Workaholics a try. I’d heard mildly good things about it via Twitter and the familiar premise meant that I wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time getting introduced to the characters and learning about the setting and all the stuff that makes more high-minded television shows difficult to begin.

Workaholics is about three idiot slackers who work as telemarketers. It’s basically a less serialized, more comedic take on The Office, only with more dick jokes. Think The Hangover II meets Office Space. The characters are ostensibly different— one is tall and kind of preppy, one is short and extremely unsuccessful with women, one has long hair and a mustache and is weird—but they’re all basically the same. The three leads (Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm) are also the creators/writers of the show. There are also a couple of their fellow office workers sprinkled in here and there, but Anderson, DeVine, and Holm are rarely not on camera.

I’ll start with what I don’t like about the show. My primary complaint is that the plot’s lack any sort of inventiveness or originality. One episode focuses on the guys being forced to sleep at work and running into some “criminals” they suspect are robbing the place. As it turns out, it’s just the tech guys installing updates to the company’s software. The pilot episode concerns them being trying to get out of taking a drug test, a plot-line that I’ve seen numerous times most notably on The Office a few years ago.

I’m certainly not suggesting a show like Workaholics needs to come up with ingenious plots in order to be great, but I’d like to see a tad more creativity put into what these guys are doing. Don’t get me wrong, many of the references are hilarious and fly under the radar. A later-season episode features the gang getting roped into attending an ICP concert, which is at least something different.

I also have a bit of a problem with the casual cruelty displayed by the main characters. Numerous examples of this exist, but during one episode where Anders has to make a presentation to his boss at work, his two “friends” conspire to sabotage it with porn. Even though Workaholics has some fantastical elements, it at least appears to exist in the real world. Seeing the show’s leads going to such lengths to destroy their own careers just takes away from any realism that might have existed. There’s also the infamous “To Friend a Predator” episode, where the guys become good friends with a child predator. Not the show’s finest moment.

With that being said, I find the characters weirdly endearing when they’re not acting like complete morons. Sitcoms tend to make their main characters, if not good people, at least fairly successful in some particular endeavor, whether it’s their job or attracting people of the opposite sex. The guys on Workaholics don’t have any of that. In fact, it’s hard to think of a single redeeming quality that any of them have, other than “enthusiastic.”

I have a certain amount of respect for the writers (who are also the lead actors on the show) for not making themselves more glamorous. One of my least favorite tropes in television and film is how awful, ugly people always seem to have attractive girlfriends (see: every episode of Seinfeld ever, everything Seth Rogen’s ever been in). These guys are completely hapless with women, which to me at least makes them more endearing. It’s never expressed explicitly in the first season, but there’s an underlying sadness beneath the characters. Clearly Anders, Blake, and Adam are not completely happy with their lives, but they still go out and try to have fun instead of wallowing in their misery.

Final Analysis: Arrested Development this ain’t, but it’s worth a watch.

Grade: B-

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~ by fc13 on September 7, 2012.

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