By Kelly Etz, Daily TV/New Media Editor
Published October 30, 2012
The premise of a show about twenty-somethings in the city has been so overworked that by the time MTV picked it up for “Underemployed,” it may be the viewer’s fault if they expected anything more than an underwhelming snore-fest.
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The characters are pretty but vapid, the interwoven storylines uninteresting and over-the-top and the script is non-existent to the point where lines like “Pukey McToothpick” have you laughing just for something to do with your mouth. It shouldn’t be this hard for creator Craig Wright, who has previously worked on “Lost,” “United States of Tara” and the short-lived cult hit “Dirty Sexy Money.”
Maybe it’s the fact that a 40-something producer is trying to create for a 20-something environment, but it’s damn hard to find even a hint of likability in these characters. Miles (Diego Boneta, “Rock of Ages”) has no trouble believing he’ll be a famous Calvin Klein underwear model within a year, but fails to recognize his new boss isn’t actually his idol until the man tells him, “I’m not Calvin Klein, sweetie.” Yeah, he didn’t even know what his hero looked like.
Another of the achingly obtuse group, Sophia (Michelle Ang, “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son”), an aspiring novelist (ugh, really?), narrates the episode with lines like “It was the best of times, it was the best of times.” The only fleeting high point is when she awkwardly discovers her sexuality.
The other single gal, Daphne (Sarah Habel, “Whip It”) nails her boss — a hot, young guy, because that’s believable — in the back of his car after he’s had her eat dog food and refuses to give her a raise. Then there’s environmentalist Lou (Jared Kusnitz, “Prom”), who broke up with girlfriend Raviva (Inbar Lavi, “Underground”) after graduation, only to have her pregnant on his doorstep months later, forcing him to ask his evil father for a job. Original? Exciting? Not in the least.
Basically, the five had high hopes after graduating from college, but a year later they aren’t any closer to where they wanted to be. Not a horrible concept, but the writing pushes it past workable to just plain hideous within minutes.
And there’s no reason for the series to be an hour long. It’s not at all a drama, so all the extra thirty minutes do is work to kill the pilot before it can find its legs.
There are a few less-than-horrendous moments — the girls bonding on the train, the really ugly dog — but these are so sequestered in a sea of mundane that viewers will barely notice. If it wasn’t abandoned at the first commercial break, the pilot has no payoff. The story arcs are going nowhere, the chemistry is non-existent, there’s just no enthusiasm for the show to continue.
We know MTV can do some things right, case in point, the incredibly deft “Awkward.” from Lauren Lungerich. So why are they pushing another poorly written, boring-as-shit attempt so close after the similar, but somehow better “I Want My Pants Back” was cancelled? With “Jersey Shore” on its way out, the network is visibly struggling. You have to work harder MTV, or the few viewers you have left are about to make for the door.