Review: My Boys 1×01-1×02

My Boys

In the US: TBS, Tuesdays, 10/9c

In the UK: Not acquired. No, siree.

Let me warn you in advance: I’m not going to be sitting through this to episode five. Or three. I’m just not going to bother watching any more of this than the first two episodes. Call me lazy. Call me slack. The simple fact is that life’s too short to be watching re-runs.

Okay, this is actually a brand new show, in which Jordana Spiro plays a Chicago-based sports reporter who’s down on dating luck. The trouble is, the show’s not exactly bringing anything new to the table. In fact, I think if a single new thing were to appear on the show, it would start coughing and keel over, as My Boys‘ immune system kicked in and tried to overpower the obviously foreign body.

The Plot

Jordana Spiro plays a Chicago sports reporter who’s down on her luck. What weren’t you paying attention earlier?

Oh, you want something more? Okay. I didn’t write it though, so don’t shoot the messenger

Being “one of the guys” can mean a lot of great things: poker games, pick-up softball games, watching sports or just hanging out at a favorite bar. But for PJ Franklin, played by Jordana Spiro (JAG, Must Love Dogs), being a girl who’s one of the guys can be challenging.

PJ (Jordana Spiro) is a twenty-something sports reporter for the Chicago Sun Times. At first glance, she’s a typical young single woman–smart, attractive, outgoing, personable. Her boys are her family, which sometimes hinders PJ’s dating life, as the men she tries to date don’t know how to react to her unconventional interests and the all-important men in her life.

PJ’s group of friends includes her brother, Andy (Jim Gaffigan), whose wife keeps him on an all-too-short leash; Mike (Jamie Kaler), a commitment-challenged ladies man who works for the Chicago Cubs; Kenny (Michael Bunin), a sports-memorabilia store owner who hasn’t mastered the art of dating; and Brendan (Reid Scott), a hard-rock DJ whose on-again, off-again romance with his girlfriend often leaves him crashing at PJ’s apartment; and the most recent addition to the group, Bobby (Kyle Howard) a sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune, the Windy City’s rival newspaper. PJ’s friend Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), who she’s known since journalism school, does her best to give PJ advice on men and dating from a more female point-of-view.

Is it any good?

You already know the answer to that question: no, it’s not. I don’t think I laughed once. I might have smiled occasionally. I was definitely watching the clock a lot. But, laugh? No.

The problem – the very big problem – with the show is that we have seen everything before, somewhere else in that fabulous TV universe where people act strangely and do things differently than in ours (that’s Toobworld, I guess). For example, we have that well known TV/film universe phenomenon: the beautiful, straight woman who hangs out with straight guys the whole time so has actually forgotten how to date. Rarely observed in the wild in the normal universe, this creature will need coaching by the occasional woman who passes by or by her friendly bunch of usually asexual straight male friends (they talk the talk but rarely walk the walk), who will explain how stereotypical straight guys behave using rules observed in all shows about TV and dating.

Know many people like that? I mean actual people, not people on tele, by the way. No. Me neither. I know women who hang out with men a lot but somehow, they all seem to remember how to date, no matter what their job is or how much time they spend with their male friends. Amazing. Television is lying to us. Who’d have thought it?

Where there is a bit of originality is in the use of constant sports metaphors to explain how “the dating game” works. I have to admit I was absolutely lost. I had no idea what she was on about. Baseball’s a bit like rounders, isn’t it, but my translator must have stamina issues because it gave up midway through a minute-long analogy about… well, something involving “the plate” and getting ready to go on date. Or something. Should I be worried I found it easier to understand analogies about Sarah Jessica’s shoes than Jordana’s plates?

The cast’s not bad, I grant you. Nothing to shout about, mind, but not awful. It’s also nice to see a show shot in Chicago rather than New York, Los Angeles or Vancouver (ostensibly anyway. They had about two days of location shoots and everything else was filmed in Los Angeles, apparently). It’s single-camera rather than multi-camera studio, so you don’t feel like you’re back in the Stone Age. But it’s just not funny. Or interesting.

Who would watch such a show, I wonder? Well, do you remember Heartbreak Ridge, in which marine sergeant Clint Eastwood would read women’s magazines so he could find out what his ex-wife really wanted from him? I think we have the same phenomenon here. It’s a rom-com for men. Amazingly, I get the feeling the intended audience for My Boys is “straight men who want to know about women, but don’t want to watch Sex and the City since only women and gay men watch that, but who would be prepared to watch a programme that’s mostly full of straight men but features a cute straight woman who behaves like a straight man but who’s still really a woman at heart.” Niche? Maybe, but this is TBS.

So if you’re in that particular demographic and don’t mind being fed false advice by television, watch My Boys. Everybody else can safely avoid it.

Here’s an iFilm clip of the show:

The cast
Jordana Spiro (P.J. Franklin)
Kyle Howard (Bobby Newman)
Reid Scott (Brendan Dorff)
Michael Bunin (Kenny Morittori)
Jamie Kaler (Mike Callahan)
Jim Gaffigan (Andy Franklin)
Kellee Stewart (Stephanie)


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

    View all posts