In an effort to keep my posting on a somewhat regular schedule and to increase the number of shows I review, I have decide to borrow an idea suggested by Thomas. Rather than providing a lengthy, in-depth post for one episode, I will offer short, broader assessments of most of the shows I watched in the past week. I’m uncertain if this will be a regular occurrence or just a one-time experiment.
Sharing our feelings is difficult. As much as we would like to, we don’t really choose who we open up to, we don’t choose who we’re comfortable with. We want to think that our friends would be the first people we can share our grief with, but our level of intimacy with them can cause that kind of dialogue to be awkward and deeply impersonal. It’s easy to be around our friends, but they might not be the best people to broach the topic of loss with.
And the situation is as difficult for them as it is for us; they feel just as helpless in their inability to help us as we do in our inability to cope. Because they are our friends they take it as a personal responsibility to help us. But what can they offer except for a sincere, but hollow, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or flash us those sad, pitying eyes? Grief can’t be combated by more sadness. Familiarity doesn’t really mean anything in this circumstance.
Grieving is a wholly selfish process, and it should be. The pain of loss is crippling and unforgiving, threatening to consume us at every turn. So we fight it by acting out and bringing other people into our misery because if there’s someone else there to share it then the pain might become that much less miserable. The human need to form a connection with someone is at its strongest when we’re at our weakest; we need to know that someone else feels what we feel, and more importantly, that it’s possible to get past this.
And “He Got Game, She Got Cats” does its best to explore the self-centered aspect of grief. Ryan (Matthew Perry) just can’t bring himself to go home to an empty, so he does whatever he can to avoid facing the hollow loneliness waiting for him. But unfortunately his assistant Carrie (Allison Miller) is unwillingly pulled in by the gravity of his inner turmoil as she accompanies him in his efforts to delay actually dealing with his loss. And here’s where the importance of his therapy group should come in, but sadly Go On‘s uneven storytelling really lessens the impact of its message.
Viewers of another NBC show will immediately notice that Go On and Community share more than a few similarities. Both shows feature a male protagonist who once was at the top of his game but, due to unforeseen circumstances, must now relinquish that post; a male protagonist who is closed off and thinks way too highly of himself. Both shows put our leads in the midst of a rag-tag group of misfits (all with their own personal issues and insecurities) that the leads initially want no part of but will eventually learn to love as they discover importance of friendship. Even the supporting characters on both shows fall under similar archetypes.
Now my making these comparison might sound like a bad thing and that’s because, well, it kind of is. Community is far from a ratings juggernaut, despite the support of critics and a very passionate (but small) fanbase. So it’s a bit surprising that NBC would bank so heavily on a show that is so much like one that is struggling to stay alive. But one thing that Go On has on Community is its infinitely more likable and more recognizable lead (sorry, Joel McHale). It’s impossible to deny Matthew Perry’s almost infinite charisma. From Chandler Bing (Friends) to Matt Albie (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) and even Ben Donovan (the short-lived Mr. Sunshine), Perry has shined brightly in all of his roles, and arguably was the best part of each show. And his performance on Go On is exactly what one would expect from this seasoned actor.