CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
TV Review: Rebel Wilson Brings Routine to TV for ‘Super Fun Night’
CHICAGO – It seems logical that Rebel Wilson, the scene-stealer from “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” would get her own sitcom. Logical, yes. A good idea, maybe not. Wilson’s “Super Fun Night,” premiering this evening on ABC at 8:30pm CST after “Modern Family,” is not yet super and not too much fun to start. It’s “Mediocre Diversion Night.” Certainly better than “The Crazy Ones” or “Dads” in the race for worst new sitcom but lacks the cast chemistry and smart writing that elevates the best sitcoms.
Television Rating: 2.0/5.0
I know a lot of colleagues who absolutely hated the premiere of “Super Fun Night.” I’m more indifferent to it but I get why people would be turned off completely more than I could see anyone falling in love with Wilson’s outrageous act, one that really won’t fit well with “Modern Family.” It’s a bit too abrasive given that it’s not smart enough to counteract the ridiculous behavior. You can be over-the-top if audiences sense the stupidity is intelligently crafted. That’s not quite the case here. It too often feels like outrageous humor just for the sake of being different. That’s not comedy, it’s attention-seeking. Bring back “Suburgatory.” (Or is it too late to save “Happy Endings”? Really? How about “Don’t Trust the B——”? Dammit.)
As she often has in film, Wilson dominates every scene she’s in on “Super Fun Night.” You have to like her routine/style to be a fan of the show. She’s unapologetically over-the-top, embracing her non-supermodel looks in a medium that usually rewards beauty. She undeniably has a unique sense of timing but her “look at me!” approach to comedy has never been my favorite, even in films like “Pitch Perfect.”
Photo credit: NBC
Wilson plays Kimmie Boubier, a reclusive girl who likes her routine. She spends every Friday night with her two friends and roommates, Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash), playing games and proclaiming that they don’t need the club scene in NYC. They’ve got each other. Everyone else they know may be meeting guys and going to the trendy spots around town, but they’ve got “Super Fun Night.”
Things change when Kimmie gets a promotion at work and begins to flirt with British attorney Richard Royce (Kevin Bishop), who the script forces the proclamation that he likes a “bit of chunk.” When Richard invites Kimmie to come out of her shell, she drags her friends along with her, even though co-worker Kendall (Kate Jenkinson), a rival she’s known since college, tries to sabotage them.
“Super Fun Night” plays off well-worn concepts of sitcom humor but does so with Rebel Wilson’s unique style. The girl who still has oldest friends and can’t seem to meet anyone new is a common theme and Wilson doesn’t add enough to it outside her often-unbelievable behavior to make it feel fresh. Three “different” girls out on the town, coming out of their shell, may automatically appeal to a small demo but it has to be done with more intelligence and genuine humor to work for mass audiences. “Super Fun Night” only works if we care about Kimmie and her friends as real people and not as caricatures as cliched as what the villains of the piece think of them. “Super Fun Night” should be about the “weird girls” realizing that it’s OK to be weird. Let your freak flag fly. Be yourself. Don’t be a version of a sitcom character that we’ve seen before. And be a character. Don’t just be Rebel Wilson in a star vehicle.