It’s difficult to love or hate a show like “Unhitched.” This latest production from the Farrelly brothers (Bobby and Peter, who gave us winners like “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary,” but also duds like “Fever Pitch” and “The Heartbreak Kid”) works in the classic hit-or-miss form the Farrellys have become known for. There’s a lot here to be amused by and even occasionally charmed by, but it’s difficult as a viewer to really get into the show beyond some brief moments.
The premise of “Unhitched” has all the makings of the usual, uninspired, genre-neutering bust, but it overcomes that. Featuring four recently divorced friends living in Boston, the show can be seen as just another post-“Friends” attempt to capture and exploit whatever foibles of relationships and friendships that better shows like “Seinfeld” may have overlooked. But it brings some flair into the proceedings by featuring characters that are surprisingly multi-dimensional.
On their own, these people and their neurotic eccentricities wouldn’t amount to anything, but like any decent show, “Unhitched” features a measured collaboration that makes for a whole that is better than the sum of its parts. Why the characters of this show work where similar ones do not is a difficult thing to describe. It probably comes down to the fact that this group seems genuine: You can really imagine the group hanging out together and having some of these problems.
All that said, there’s absolutely no need to get philosophical in discussing “Unhitched.” Any show that features (possible) orangutan sex and jokes about short people or skin tags is basically your average, slightly disgusting Fox sitcom. The fact that there is occasional charm and some humor coupled with the jokes may actually be purely accidental – as I maintain was the case with “Dumb and Dumber,” a production that turned out much better than it was meant to be.
“Unhitched” occupies the same ratings and viewership niche as “Rules of Engagement,” the CBS sitcom with a slightly different premise that returns to the air next month following its strike hiatus. Both shows succeed on the lowest level possible, recycling plotlines from older sitcoms that were boring the first time around. It’s a testament to our exceedingly banal collective wishes as viewers that such dull, unoriginal shows continue to be produced, but at least “Unhitched” attempts to be something more, even when it falters horribly.
What will come of the show is a tough call. Given the Farrellys’ fanbase and Fox’s uncanny ability to sell mediocre sitcoms (“Til Death” is still on the air and “The War at Home” lasted 44 episodes – about 43 more than it should have), it’s likely that “Unhitched” will be around for a while. If it finds a solid viewership, it’ll probably be because people are watching the show for its gags. Another side of the show has some potential, though, and hopefully that’s the side that wins out.wins out for more than brief moments.
2.5 out of 5 stars.