To say that “My Boys,” the new sitcom from TBS, is inspired by “Sex and the City” is a bit of an understatement. It’s basically the same show, tweaked slightly to ensure slightly more male demographic appeal.
The show is the brainchild of Betsy Thomas, creator of the Joey Lawrence sitcom “Run of the House.” (Yeah, I’m straining my brain real hard, and I can’t remember it either. Oh, well.) “My Boys” revolves around single Chicago gal PJ Franklin (Jordana Spiro, who you might remember from ... uh, three episodes of “JAG”). PJ works for a newspaper, writing a weekly column (about sports, not sex). Like Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City,” our blonde heroine narrates each weekly adventure from behind her laptop. Unlike Carrie, however, PJ has only got one metaphor for sex: baseball. You see, our PJ is a tomboy who hangs out with a collection of numbnut male pals playing poker, drinking beer and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.
Theoretically, this makes dating difficult for PJ. Men, in this fictional universe, aren’t attracted to hot blondes who act like “one of the boys.” Girls who dig sports and want sex are considered freaks in this alterna-Chicago--at least judging by the reactions from the object of PJ’s affections, a rival sports writer named Bobby (Kyle Howard, apparently from “Run of the House”). Despite the fact that Bobby lacks a discernible personality, is saddled with truly tragic hair and doesn’t seem that into PJ, he’s being set up as “The Dream Boyfriend”--just like Mr. Big on “Sex and the City.”
“My Boys” does benefit from a slick, single-camera, shot-on-film style. The basic premise does have a certain “lived in” quality, and is a comfortable enough place to start a sitcom. The writing, however, is slack. It isn’t until the third episode that the scripts actually start generating jokes. To succeed, the show needs to find its own rhythm, breaking as far away from “Sex and the City” as possible. It also needs to dig up some actors with personality. Do all of PJ’s friends have to be dull losers? Could somebody talk about something other than baseball? Could PJ’s potential boyfriend be, I don’t know, slightly different from her? It may not be entirely true that opposites attract, but it’s certainly true that opposites provide a little drama. (Perhaps the producers should bone up on their “Cheers” for a lesson in just this sort of romantic friction.) So far, the only character that varies at all in personality is PJ’s “one and only” female friend, Stephanie (Kellee Stewart, who you might have seen in that one episode of “Living With Fran”).
Despite its many flaws, “My Boys” has potential. ... All the producers have to do is find funnier scripts, better actors and more original situations. Good luck with that.