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What does it mean for a show when “a midseason comedy from Fox” is the most pitch-perfect way to describe it? That’s kind of how it works with Fox’s Weird Loners, the newest project from King of Queens creator Michael J. Weithorn, which shoehorns four fairly normal characters into a friendship mold and lets them hang out together. You’ll notice pretty quickly that the “weird” and “loners” parts of the title don’t really fit, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time.
You’ll recognize most of this cast from their work on previous (mostly shortlived) series. There’s Happy Endings’ Zachary Knighton as Stosh Lewandoski, a womanizing scuzz who loses his job for fiddling with a boss’ wife, thus leaving him without his company-owned condo. His cousin Eric (Happy Endings’s Nate Torrence) has spent his life living in his childhood home with his father, who dies and leaves him alone for the first time, which allows Stosh to sly-talk his way into free shelter. Eric’s neighbor Caryn Goldfarb (Ugly Betty’s Becki Newton) is a dental hygienist who is engaged to a boring man with a few kids from a previous marriage. And then there’s newcomer Meera Rohit Kumbhani as Zara, the artistic free spirit who comes to live with Caryn once she decides to make a life change.
Having watched the first three of six episodes in Season 1, I’m clued in on the fact that this is from the same kind of reality as New Girl, where over-exaggeration is a way of life and problems are handled with hugs and montages. That would be less of an issue if all of these characters weren’t aggravating in some way, although Zara mostly escapes that due to a lack of Zara-centered plots. I wouldn’t be surprised if Irritating Acquaintances was a working title when it was being conceived.
Still, even with sitcom stereotypes at the ready, Weird Loners is easily capable of pulling off a good joke or a piece of physical comedy, and hints at more idiosyncratic stories ready to claw their way to the surface. Nate Torrence is a whirlwind of arrested development energy and throws himself into every scene with gusto, and Eric’s familial relationship with Stosh gives their opposing personalities a reason to click. (Polish songs in the shower can never be a bad thing, right?) Caryn’s commitment issues make her at odds with her more value-driven family, and her newfound friend-family is there to help her out. And Zara…well, Zara plays Eric’s surrogate father for one episode, which was pretty funny.
Like a good comedy should, Weird Loners has its share of guest stars, though many of them are underused and will hopefully return. Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Susie Essman plays Caryn’s regrettably non-foul-mouthed mother, while Wet Hot American Summer’s David Wain plays Caryn’s fiancé. Eric works at a bridge toll booth with a group of Mets-loving goofballs, with Upright Citizens Brigade’s Matt Besser as the most recognizable face. (Honestly, I would love to see a spinoff with just these characters.) And there are certainly more to come in the latter half of the season.
While I can knock it for its awkward growing pains, Weird Loners has more potential than most new comedies do – I’m looking at you, NBC – and it’ll be interesting to see where these disjointed characters are headed in the future. If it’s just “to the couch to drink beer,” I’m probably alright with that, too.
Weird Loners will premiere on Fox on Tuesday, March 31, at 9:30 p.m. ET.