“Man Seeking Woman”

Man Seeking Woman is a show on FXX about a man named Josh Greenberg and his experiences looking for love. The situations he finds himself in are often hyperbolic and surreal interpretations of otherwise common experiences. The way the show illustrates and highlights particular aspects of Josh’s escapades is humorous, and this is amplified because the characters don’t acknowledge the strangeness around them as strange but tend to treat it as something expected or universal.

Josh moves out of the apartment of his then ex-girlfriend in the beginning of the first episode, and not too long after he moves in with a friend who convinces him to go clubbing. Josh isn’t much a fan of the club scene, but he also isn’t a fan of bachelorhood so he allows his sister to set him up on a blind date with a friend of hers. This friend turns out to be a troll, a green-skinned, warty creature that eats garbage out of dumpsters, as well as the rose Josh purchases for her.

Josh’s sister Liz is also portrayed as unlucky in love. Liz breaks up with her boyfriend and attends the birthday party of a friend’s child afterwards. The birthday girl is turning seven and her friends are dressed in tutus and tiaras, having a tea party. When Liz goes to sit with them, she notices that all except the birthday girl are wearing engagement rings. The birthday girl laments the fact that she’s not yet found someone to marry and when Liz comforts her, saying that she herself at 29 isn’t married, all the girls gasp in shock. They insist on setting her up, since at her “advanced age of a million” she’s running out of time.

The childish tendency to be openly judgmental, combined with their precociousness wouldn’t be surprising most of the time. After all, children often like to act grown up. But the script being flipped, young children scolding a grown woman about getting married made the scene funny rather than merely being a hum drum slice of life.

Throughout the show the sweet awkward girl, the girl out of his league, the girl who his parents like and the one night stand all make their appearances in Josh’s life. Though most interactions between them and Josh begin positively, things always go sour at the end.

The show makes use of CGI props and characters to evoke surrealism, rather than to touch up details of scenes. It’s something I haven’t seen in a live action show before, and it’s done in an intentionally unnerving way. At one point in the show, an old stuffed heart that used to belong to Josh’s ex comes to life and attacks him. Usually, the situations that are most surreal are part of one-off scenes. For example, Josh is invited to his friend’s destination wedding in Hell.

One particularly funny recurring trope is a gray rain cloud that follows Josh when he’s dumped. This also happens to Liz, but rather than wallow she breaks out an umbrella.

I’d recommend “Man Seeking Woman” to anyone who likes offbeat or subversive humor. The show is generally unpredictable, and that’s the draw of it. “Man Seeking Woman” has done a great job of taking the simple subject of dating escapades and making it larger than life, while evoking laughs along the way.