Who doesn’t love going to bars, getting drunk and attempting to forge lifelong romantic partnerships with total strangers? Well, ultimately, nobody. College kids fool themselves into thinking it’s a good time, but eventually everybody figures out it’s a piss-poor system for finding a mate. Like democracy, it’s a broken system—but it’s all we’ve got. What’s the alternative? Online dating? Communism? Good luck with that.
ABC’s latest attempt to plug a post-“Modern Family” gap in its Wednesday night comedy lineup comes in the form of pickup bar-centric midseason replacement sitcom “Mixology.” It does, at least, stand out from the crowd. But not always in a good way.
The “gimmick” of the show is that we’re presented with 10 random strangers, all hanging out at some trendy Manhattan watering hole trying their utmost to hook up with one another. The entire series takes place over the course of one night. Each episode we get to concentrate on a different pair of people. Will they hook up or not? Will they fall in love or just have sex in the men’s room? Think “Love, American Style” crossed with “Cheers” and written by the staff of “Entourage.” Only not that good.
The anthology-esque storytelling of “Mixology” and the show’s desperate attempts to sound hip and trendy make it somewhat different than the other generic, laugh track-enhanced sitcoms primetime has saddled us with lately. But the show falls down when it comes to the most basic elements of sitcom longevity: likable characters, a relatable scenario and funny jokes.
The characters in “Mixology” are almost uniformly awful people. If any of these folks started talking to you in an actual bar, you’d quickly down your vodka tonic and excuse yourself to the bathroom. To start things off, we’re meant to root for a hookup between just-dumped milquetoast Tom (Blake Lee) and ball-busting man-hater Maya (Ginger Gonzaga). Maya claims that “all white men are wimps” and longs for a man “like Don Draper, who would smack me in the mouth.” Ick. Despite her tough standards, Maya and Tom bond over their mutual hatred of Hawaiians. At the end of the night, he walks away with her phone number. Congratulations. I guess.
Show creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore wrote The Hangover, but the worn-out shock techniques employed here feel more like The Hangover Part III. In the first episode alone, the female characters are called “whores,” “bitches” and (I’m not making this up) “pig farts.” The act of lovemaking is referred to as “smashing it” or taking a trip to “bone island.” There’s even a hilarious joke about rape. And this choice line: “Look at that chick throwing up. I’m going to bang her out!” Again I say, “Ick.”
Whichever network executive decided to schedule this tactlessly raunchy outing after the feel-good comedy “Modern Family” needs to have their head examined. Perhaps ABC thought “Mixology” would appeal to hip twentysomethings for whom envelope-pushing masturbation jokes and alcohol abuse are big-time fun. Odds are, however, those people are all out at the bars making these sorts of heinous romantic mistakes in real life.