Written by Laura Dengrove
Hello awkwardly written “romantic” comedy.
Stephen Merchant, the wildly funny writer of The Office, The Extras and The Ricky Gervais Show, is back with a new show of his own. Too bad the show doesn’t nearly match up to his past successes.
Hello Ladies, which airs Sundays at 10:30 on HBO, revolves around a man named Stuart (played by Merchant himself), whose on a journey to pick up girls and prove to everyone, and himself, that he is a true ladies man. Sounds like it should be a surefire success, but with all the un-funny dialogue and the serious lack of character development, the show doesn’t really have any hope.
The comedy of Hello Ladies is awkward and cringe worthy. It’s so uncomfortable that you’re almost forced to laugh in order to alleviate the tension and awkwardness of the situation. These scenes are painful to watch and it leaves you with a feeling of little hope for the show’s continuation. Sure, there are a few moments of genuine laughter, but these few does not make up for the many unfunny moments of the show.
What’s interesting here is that the true moments of genuine humor come from Merchant’s fast wit and sarcastic charm but his character is also what really kills the show.
Merchant’s Stuart is a bit on the dorky, arrogant side and he lacks any likeable characteristics. Characters in his situation, trying too hard to impress ladies, acting tough in certain situations, and pretending to know everything, usually have a sweet side but not Stuart. In more than one scene, he is seen doing incredibly selfish things that make his character so unlikeable that it makes you want to change the channel. It is truly a shame to see this because Merchant’s ability to deliver a joke is so unbelievably good, but his character is so unbelievably bad.
The other characters in the show are mostly sweet, but are only used in uncreative ways. A notable mention is the sweet Wade, played by Nate Torrence, who plays the sidekick to Merchant’s Stuart. You root for his character initially but ultimately he becomes boring and repetitive and you lose interest.
Merchant has made a name for himself as a frequent collaborator of the genius and extremely funny Ricky Gervais. With previous things airing that feature Merchant, one would think he would shine in this show and really grow into his own, but alas, this does not happen. The shadow of Gervais may be looming over Merchant, and for him to truly allow himself to become a star he needs to be more comfortable doing things on his own. Without Gervais, the show seems pointless, which is sad because the expectations for this show were very high, but fell too short.
Hopefully, Hello Ladies will grow from here. With a few simple changes, the show could become something great. But, as the show is right now the title of the show shouldn’t be Hello Ladies, but Goodbye Ladies.