Mondays at 9 p.m.
1 out of 5 stars
“Roommates” is such a god-awful show that it makes the rest of ABC Family’s programming look deep by comparison.
The show focuses on the hijinks and romantic entanglements of young New York 20-somethings. The plot goes like this: Mark (newcomer Tyler Francavilla), the show’s focal point, bumps into his high-school sweetheart Katie (fellow newcomer Dorian Brown) in an elevator. After Katie mentions she’s looking for a roommate, Mark uproots his life and moves all of his things to her apartment in Brooklyn so he can exist in closer proximity to her. Along the way, he encounters her quirky co-inhabitants and her on-again-off-again boyfriend.
Everything about “Roommates” is tired. The show’s plot is ripped off from horrible 1970s sitcoms, and the dialogue is trite and unrealistic. There’s a heavy reliance on comedic misunderstandings in the style of “Three’s Company,” which is not only unfunny, but actually irritating to watch.
In one situation, Katie pours out her heart to Mark about an unnamed romantic interest she’s uncertain about persuing. Big surprise: Mark thinks she is referring to him and tells her to go for it. Shockingly, it turns out she was referring to an old boyfriend. Purposely vague conversations in which the participants walk away with different ideas of what just happened are the backbone of “Roommates” — the show would be roughly five minutes long if the characters just talked to each other.
Characters in “Roommates” are shallow and undeveloped; they also steadfastly avoid the course of action a normal human might take. For example, Hope (Tamera Mowry, “Sister Sister”) dresses for work in a pantsuit and heels to trick her roommates into thinking she is a high-powered Hollywood executive rather than a lowly barista. The other characters on the show are similarly uninventive: Hope’s boss is a flamboyant gay man who manages to be a walking embodiment of every homosexual stereotype. Likewise, the one-dimensional Katie has no notable qualities other than being attractive.
The show’s performers are a ragtag array of alumni from other lackluster sitcoms and newcomers including Tony Yalda, who previously set the world on fire with his portrayal as American Idol’s Sanjaya Look-A-Like in the 2008 film “Meet the Spartans.” The lack of legitimate acting experience might account for the over-the-top reactions and constant high-pitched yelling that pass as emoting on “Roommates.”
As a whole, “Roommates” is forgettable at best, bafflingly pointless at worst. The show’s subject matter — dealing with the stressful adjustment to adult life after completing college — could have been appealing in the right hands, but the show goes for cheap laughs and slapstick rather than striving for comedy that is true to life. “Roommates” manages to be a half hour of television completely devoid of any original content whatsoever. While ABC Family has carved a niche in basic cable by providing viewers with family-friendly fluff, “Roommates” is almost aggressively stupid and altogether unappealing.