‘Mulaney’ is Even Worse the Second Time Around


“What the hell am I doing here?” – Elliott Gould

There weren’t many nice things to say about the pilot episode to Mulaney, and for good reason. It just wasn’t very good in any aspect.

But all shows – especially sitcoms – really do deserve the benefit of the doubt and time to figure themselves out. And sure, Mulaney might actually do that if it’s not canceled first. The problem is, its second episode didn’t seem to do anything to improve upon the pilot’s numerous shortcomings.

A few thoughts on Sunday’s episode:

  • Nasim Pedrad remains a painfully underwritten character. If they’re banking on her being the Elaine of the group, they’re going to have to, you know, give her some storylines. Especially ones where she’s the focal point and no other main character is around to ruin things. Who knows, maybe she’ll even get some female friends – or a job!
  • The show continues to really, really, really want to be compared to Seinfeld, evidenced this week by everyone referring to Mulaney’s doula girlfriend as “The Doula,” along with his shallow reasons for wanting to dump her.
  • Martin Short is wasted in his role, though I think Elliott Gould could have a lot to offer if he’s given more than one scene per week.
  • Why is so much time devoted to characters just looking around and making expressions at what each other is saying? The audience doesn’t need to see you acknowledging each other so much – the best thing a show like this can do is keep the jokes firing as fast as possible. Being so self-aware doesn’t do Mulaney any favors.
  • There are bits that are just flat-out unfunny. The whole air conditioning birth scene was pretty tough to watch.
  • There was a legitimately funny sequence in this one, when Mulaney is at dinner with the doula and she is describing the graphic nature of her job. The inexplicable image of a man putting on a turtleneck to match up with a baby crowning was pretty good – Mulaney needs to get weirder like that more often.
  • Lastly, thanks for the smart-alecky reminder that you’re filmed in front of a live studio audience, too, Mulaney. Don’t you know that was already done on Whitney? Why in the name of all things holy would you ever try to emulate anything that show ever tried?

There is still time for the show to get better, even with its pretty low ratings (which did actually rise Sunday night). Because of the cast’s talent, it deserves our patience. But Mulaney is using up its mulligans pretty quickly.

Steve DiMatteo

Author: Steve DiMatteo

Steve is an editor for Robot Butt. You can follow him on Twitter @steve_dimatteo.

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