“It was almost my dream to try a traditional narrative sitcom that incorporated the kind of absurdity and high-stakes premise-driven risk tasking that I loved in my favorite sketch shows.”While it’s easy to see the SNL influence on Man Seeking Woman—the show is produced by Lorne Michaels and could easily be confused for a kooky SNL sketch expanded into series form—the show is also deeply informed by Rich’s time working (in a super-secret, limited capacity) for Pixar.
While a far cry from, say, the precociousness of Toy Story or the adorable whimsy of Up, the rules of Men Seeking Women are the same: you have to commit to every specific detail of the universe in order for the audience to buy into it.
The accomplished novelist—Man Seeking Woman itself is based on his bestseller The Last Girlfriend on Earth—and New Yorker contributor was the former president of the Harvard Lampoon before being hired as the youngest writer in Saturday Night Live’s history.
The halls of Studio 8H are, after all, notorious for incubating and fostering Hollywood’s most beloved creative weirdos, giving them the kind of hospitable outlet for their brand of humor that’s not typically found on broadcast TV.“Especially the last half hour of that show is full of absurdist, premise-driven comedy that you can almost never find on network television,” Rich says, a student of cult sketch series like Kids in the Hall and The State.
But what it lacks in consistency of tone and laugh-out-loud one-liners it makes up for in sharp writing, acute cultural commentary, gleeful weirdness, and sheer creative balls. He murdered thousands of people,” he tells his friend.
In an absurdist echo of frustrating conversations we’ve all had with our friends after a breakup, Josh is none-too-pleased to learn that his ex-girlfriend Maggie’s new boyfriend isn’t just as awful as Hitler. “You don’t like him because he’s dating Maggie,” they dismiss.
Haven’t we all been set up on a blind date with someone who ended up with the looks or personality of a troll?