Finally someone is reaching out to that constantly overlooked group of individuals: wealthy, 30-something white women searching for love in a big city. But there’s a twist this time. This particular wealthy 30-something is pregnant — with a younger man’s baby. CBS’s new sitcom “Accidentally on Purpose,” while borrowing heavily from HBO’s “Sex and the City,” is a light, enjoyable piece of fluff.
“Accidentally on Purpose”
Mondays at 8:30 p.m.
“Accidentally on Purpose” focuses on Billie (Jenna Elfman, “Dharma & Greg”), an attractive career woman who wants nothing more out of life than to get married and settle down. In order to accomplish this goal, she spends large amounts of her free time idling in bars with two generic friends. Youthful heartthrob Zack (Jon Foster, “Stay Alive”) offers to buy her a drink, and before you know it, their witty banter (“I think I’m running out of charming. I think I have some back at my apartment.”) and awkward attempts to dance to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” lead to a night of passion on Zack’s fold-out couch. Soon, Billie discovers she’s pregnant and struggles to incorporate Zack and his slacker friends into her life. The premise might be identical to “Knocked Up,” but the delivery is significantly more female-aimed.
The older woman-younger man relationship has become a hot topic in the media recently, examined in lackluster series like ABC’s “Cougar Town,” and “Accidentally” is strongly influenced by the tired liberated-women-who’s-still-desperate-for-a-man shtick, previously seen in the work of producers like David E. Kelley (“Ally McBeal,” “The Practice”). Despite having a great job and a ridiculously spacious apartment, Billie’s only concern is getting married. She goes so far as to reveal that she got pregnant on purpose, hence the title of the show. While it’s played for laughs, her neediness and singular focus on pinning down a man is disheartening. One recurring joke involves Billie saying “I love you” to Zack and him meeting the utterance with complete confusion each and every time.
“Accidentally on Purpose” depends almost entirely on star Jenna Elfman’s ability to carry the show, and, to her credit, she manages to act as a serviceable comedic foil to the rest of the cast. While her almost aggressive quirkiness can wear thin at points, she’s a sympathetic character even when placed in situations that seem abhorrent. Her perkiness makes her a sympathetic protagonist.
A weaker comedic presence is found in Zack, who blandly poses and pouts his way through the show, raising the question of why Billie would ever want to get involved with him in the first place. Billie’s two friends are amusing in their roles as confidants, though they seem to exist on the show solely to narrate past events and aid in plot exposition.
Although it gets muddled in generic sitcom dialogue from time to time, the script is mostly strong, poking fun at some of the sacred cows of the romantic comedy genre. Billie bemoans her geriatric age of 37, stating that she’s past her peak. There are three stages of life, she opines: Meg Ryan in “Sleepless in Seattle,” Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail” and Meg Ryan in the grocery store, trying to convince people she’s Meg Ryan. It’s not groundbreaking, but the show fits in well with the rest of the CBS Monday night lineup and will undoubtedly appeal to its target audience: women like Billie. “Accidentally” isn’t life-changing, but it succeeds at what it’s aiming for. The bar just wasn’t set particularly high.