Accidentally on Purpose at its core has an interesting premise and some funny people in the cast, in it’s execution it fails in almost every category. One could use it as an example of what not to do when making a sitcom.
From the very beginning, where an awful laugh track plays over almost every spoken word, you know you are in sitcom hell. Some producer got a little to slap happy with the cue applause/laughter button. It isn’t the fact that you don’t expect this. All multi-camera sitcoms have a laugh track, and we accept this whether or not they are filmed in front of a live audience. In Accidentally on Purpose the laugh track feels overused and used on jokes that don’t work.
Accidentally on Purpose stars Jenna Elfman in the role of Billie, an aging film critic who wants nothing more but to settle down with her media mogul boyfriend, James. Billie seems to have made the wrong choice, and when the question is not popped she leaves him. Switch to a few months later, she is still vying for his attention, while he runs around with supermodels. Seeing him with new women forces her hand. She arrives a bar and quickly meets Zack, and his friends. After she hits it off with him, she turns in to a cougar and goes home with the “charming” young man. Unfortunately for her she gets pregnant from her boy toy, and both of them must deal with the consequences of their encounter.
Sounds pretty standard fare for a sitcom? An odd couple situation, where two opposites are forced to live in close spaces. This has sometimes made for some pretty good comedy on tv, this time however it flounders and sinks in the abyss of its own ineptitude.
Let us first start with Elfman, I have always been of the opinion that she has a charming personality when reigned in, but in this she is all over the board. I kept thinking to myself, “Well I see why no one would marry her.” That is especially bad for me, I think finding a beautiful women who has as much interest in film as me would be an instant jackpot, however my despair was only fueled further when she seemed neither as smart or savvy as one would think for a famous film critic.
Now, we get to her boy toy, Zack, played by Jon Foster. If you noticed earlier I put “charming” in quotations. This is because we get that this is what the character is supposed to seem like. When Billie meets him she doesn’t appear nearly drunk enough to be into his cheesy pickup lines. The dialogue is so forced and cheesy there is no way you can listen to it and not die a little inside. I don’t know how old the writers are, but they sound like my grandparents trying to describe how “kids these days” talk. As a leading man, Foster, fails.
The supporting doesn’t really seem to carry much hope either with the exception of, Ashley Jenson playing Olivia. She delivers the funniest lines, even if they are a bit clichéd. It is a drastic change from her role in Ricky Gervais’s Extras where she played the single woman with low self esteem. This time she is the aggressor, and a bit of a cougar (or lynx or ocelot as she prefers to be called). In fact, she is probably the only character that made me smile the entire time.
I was hoping under the direction of Pamela Fryman who is also involved with the superior sitcom, How I Met Your Mother, that Accidently on Purpose would be another addition to my already overloaded DVR. Unfortunately, it is the biggest disappointment I have seen in a while. The show might be salvageable, but it is going to need some big overhauls to get to that point.