Think back to your most awkward bar experience. Perhaps you struck out with that dashing young man or smoking-hot lady seated by the bar. Perhaps your rendition of ‘the robot’ wasn’t a hit on the dance floor. A fashion faux-pas was your downfall, maybe? Whatever it was, take a moment to really take in the scene and feel the humiliation. That is what watching the Hello Ladies pilot was like.
Now, that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable- Stephen Merchant is delightfully funny and the humor is reminiscent of his work on The Office. The difference here is that it’s more ‘cringe-inducing’ humor that tends to rely on Stuart (the main character, who Stephen plays) being woefully desperate while everyone around him remains rotten. Being lanky and ‘awkward’ in appearance himself, Merchant plays this role perfectly, as well as writes and works on other parts of the show. If you’re not a fan of ‘cringe-humor’, you may not care for this brand of comedy. It has a lot of potential, and many will be able to identify with the manic mishaps of Stuart and his friends.
In the pilot, the main characters are introduced- just as you’d expect. Stuart runs a web-design service and has a roommate named Jessica who could become a love interest later on (maybe too predictably), as well as a best friend named Wade who is grieving a divorce. The pilot opens with a scene at a bar where Stuart and Wade successfully approach- and then strike out with- a pair of ladies enjoying some drinks. The awkwardness is hard to swallow in even this opening scene, and one can’t help but laugh as he goes in for a number to which the lady replies “I don’t have a phone!” as she sprints away. Classic.
The rest of the pilot revolves around Stuart pursuing love interest Courtney, a woman working with Jessica on her web series. Stuart manages to arrange to meet Courtney at a nightclub, and drags Wade along to try to ‘soothe’ his divorce woes. Wade brings along Kives, a wheelchair-bound ladies man who Stuart loathes, and they hit up the club. Stuart finds Courtney who then tricks him into buying a round of 800$ drinks for her and her friends. He plays bartender, even taking orders and special requests, and then is denied a seat by Courtney or any of her friends. In what has to be the most awkward scene on recent television, Stuart trips into the table of 800$ drinks, soaking him and revealing the condom in his pocket. Facepalm worthy to the max.
Kives is the only successful club-goer of the three, taking Courtney’s best friend home with him. Wade spent the night showing pictures of his ex-wife to potential dates on his laptop (yes, he WAS dancing around the club with the laptop bag over his shoulder- humorous in its ridiculousness) and Stuart, well, we know what happened. While viewers may find Stuart a bit too unlikeable, high hopes reign on for this series. Hopefully the writing will take a turn from “it’s funny because everybody is so awful to each other” to slightly more sophisticated humor.