Josh Thomas' Please Like Me charmsTV and Radio
Josh Thomas talks celeb crushes
The creator and star of 'Please Like Me,' Josh Thomas, discusses his celebrity crushes and reveals his favourite perk of being on television.PT2M4S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2r0he 620 349 August 1, 2013
Let's leave the beaten path for a moment and explore some worthy TV you won't necessarily find on your actual television.
Please Like Me is not only the title of a terrific new sitcom on Pivot TV, but also the fervent request by the brand new channel itself. Pivot launched Thursday as an arm of Participant Media, the company behind the documentary An Inconvenient Truth and Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, among others.
The new channel aims at a demographic known far too preciously as "millennials," possibly one of the most loathsome words in popular culture other than "literally." And yes, dammit, I mean that literally. It's a word the boyish but not that young network president Evan Shapiro tosses around like the verbal equivalent of the Holy Grail.
Jim Berk, Participant Media CEO (which owns Pivot), Josh Thomas and Evan Shapiro, Pivot president. Photo: Dan Steinberg for Pivot TV
The new channel targets viewers 18 to 34, and has a strong social component as part of its mission. Members of the Pivot panel at the Television Critics Association crowed that members of the M-word generation are the most politically aware of all time.
But if the rest of Pivot's offerings are as good as its original sitcom, Please Like Me, I'll literally start using "millennials" with a smile on my face, which, I must add, is older than 34. Way older.
Please Like Me is the brainchild of Australian comic Josh Thomas, based on his own social awkwardness. Not a terribly new idea, but when it's treated intelligently and enacted by a lovable sad sack named Josh Thomas, it can be irresistible.
Josh Thomas' face is all over New York buses, promoting Please Like Me on Pivot.
Now that we've used the M word, we have to use the L word. No, I don't mean love, although I do love the two episodes of Please Like Me made available to critics. I mean L as in Lena. Because, yes, this show might just be what Lena Dunham would come up with if she were a gangly Australian comedian writing a series about emotional stasis among boys and Girls.
The show opens with Josh's girlfriend, Claire (Caitlin Stasey) breaking up with him over dessert at an outdoor cafe. He never realized their relationship had been drifting, he says. "The nature of drifting, it happens over time and one day you order a 19-dollar sundae and you're finished," he says.
She says Josh is gay. News to him, he answers, unconvincingly.
At the office, he chats up his friend Tom (Thomas Ward), who says once again he plans on breaking up with his girlfriend, which he never does. A new employee named Geoffrey (Wade Briggs) walks in and promptly breaks down crying. He invites himself to dinner that night with Tom and Josh and then invites himself to sleep over.
In Josh's room.
He puts the moves on Josh, who doesn't exactly respond. Rather, here, as in all situations, it seems, he acquiesces. Until the mole on his lip starts bleeding. Conveniently.
Geoffrey is absurdly attractive, which is one of the reasons Josh is reluctant to pursue anything with him. "I never really trust when someone that good looking is into me," he says.
He more or less accepts that he may be gay because that's how he approaches his entire life: More or less.
"I just really think I'm going to miss vaginas," he says. "They make so much sense, you know? They're nifty."
The humor is subtle, almost deadpan, but brilliant at every turn. Some moments become excruciating to watch, only because we've formed an immediate affection for Josh and hate seeing him screw things up for himself.
Pivot has six episodes available now and has ordered up a 10-episode second season.
So, you know, please like it. I do.
David Wiegand is The San Francisco Chronicle's executive features editor and TV critic.
New York Times