In defense of 'Mixology': Why ABC's comedy isn't as awful as everyone claims
It seems like the cool thing to do these days is hate on everything.
It's easier to criticize than it is to compliment, just as it is easier to destroy something than build something new. And when everyone's criticizing something, it can be a daunting task to go against the flow and submit your unpopular opinion to the vast, negative, scary, unforgiving world that is the Internet. But that's exactly what my job is: Having and sharing my opinion, whether or not you agree with it. So here goes nothing ...
I loved "Mixology."
There. I said it. ABC's newest comedy had me laughing for the majority of the 30 minutes of the series premiere (and the next two episodes I watched after). But all day before it premiered on Wednesday (Feb. 26), I was afraid to voice my positive opinion of the show, because everyone else claimed to absolutely hate it -- with valid reasons.
From its "offensive," "misogynistic" jokes, to the "unlikeable" main characters, to the "sexist" dialogue, everyone had something downright nasty to say about "Mixology." Don't believe me? Just google "Mixology ABC." Go ahead, I'll wait.
See? Not many positive reviews in sight (although I'm not alone in liking the show ... validation!). People even went so far as to suggest "burning it down" and instant cancelation. And once everybody starting insulting the comedy, it was easy to join in and agree. "Yeah, this is horrible! Why is 'Mixology' even on ABC's schedule?"
But here's the thing: It's doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing. Let's be real -- it's a half-hour comedy about a night in a bar following 10 people who are trying to get laid. It's a shallow endeavor for everyone, whether they try to get laid on a regular basis or they're trying to get back out in the dating world after their fiancee dumped them. So of course the jokes are going to be shallow.
When you go out to a bar with the main goal of hooking up with someone, you're not going to judge a stranger standing across the bar from you based on their intellect or educational background or career or personality. The first thing you do is judge them on their appearance -- the way they present themselves with their clothes, hair, makeup, shoes, everything. That's just a fact -- unless you have telepathy and can read their mind across a crowded room to get all that info before talking to them.
One of the biggest criticisms "Mixology" has received is based on the line, "The higher the heels, the looser she feels," said by the womanizing best friend to his recently single friend about how girls who wear flats out to bars aren't interested in hooking up. Sorry if this sounds "frat boy awful" -- which actually doesn't apply to me since I'm, you know, a girl -- but I laughed at that. There's a reason I don't wear six-inch high stilettos when I go out to a bar. I don't want skeevy guys like this one hitting on me.
And speaking of this skeevy guy (played with no apologies by Andrew Santino), Bruce actually gets a backstory that humanizes him in a later episode and explains why he's so aggressive in the way he hits on and treats women. It certainly doesn't excuse him for his behavior, but it definitely makes you feel bad for the guy and what he went through as a kid. So even the most offensive, seemingly-two-dimensional characters are real people, even if it might take some time for their stories to be represented onscreen. Just be patient.
"Mixology" isn't claiming to be a deep show that makes you think and inspires intellectual water-cooler conversation. It's just trying to make you laugh about situations that arise from drinking at a bar while looking for love (or lust, more accurately). Not every show on TV these days needs to be more than just pure entertainment. Does that make me sound stupid for suggesting that I want to watch a show that doesn't require me to use my brain? I don't care. I watch TV for a living, after all.
Here's my question: Why can't we all just enjoy a comedy at face value? Do we as an audience need to re-learn how to laugh at a simple joke? I love watching shows that make me think, but I also love ones that don't require me to. A nice balance is quite healthy.
And let's just be straight here for a second: "Mixology" comes from the minds behind "The Hangover" franchise. Drunken shenanigans is the name of the game. If that's not your brand of humor, OK, cool, that's totally fine. But don't expect to like a TV show that's the same tone.
I'm also really intrigued by the contained setup of the show. The entire 13-episode season takes place over the course of one night, and each episode focuses on two characters. All the characters' story lines will weave together in unique ways, and will keep you guessing as to who goes home with who at the end of the night. It's clever and interesting and creative, and I'm totally on board. It may not inspire much confidence in a second season, as the first season is open and closed with no wiggle room, but I got the chance to chat with executive producer Scott Moore and he assured me they had specific, different plans for Season 2 already mapped out. If "Mixology" does get a Season 2, it won't be a redo or reboot of the same night with different characters.
If the jokes and tone of "Mixology" rub you the wrong way, I completely understand. This show isn't meant for everyone. But as someone in her early 20s whose main social activity is going out to bars with friends, I related to a lot of the situations and laughed at almost all of the jokes. I found the characters to be fun and kind of want to spend a night out a bar with them, because I know it certainly wouldn't be boring. This show is doing exactly what it promised to do, and while this puts me in the extreme minority, I can't wait to see the rest of this season.
Sorry I'm not sorry. Now, who's up for drinks?
"Mixology" airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.