I’m a little late in finishing up Season 2 of Bored to Death, but finish it I did. Because it’s a show I really want to like. Ted Danson is having such a great time and is really fun to watch and the tone is zany in a way that seems to hold such potential and Zach Galifianakis is spinning as much gold as he can out of lines that, on paper, aren’t all that funny or interesting.
But at the end of the day, this is a show with no stakes, a show where characters don’t learn or grow or change, and where our protagonist Jason Schwartzman seems completely removed from and unaffected by the world he is in, having made little to no progress as a character after 16 episodes.
One could argue that, in comedy, a protagonist doesn’t need to change. I mean, does Larry David change in Curb? Not much, but at least he is reacting to the world around him in a way that is hilarious and insanely relatable. And then, the fact that he never changes becomes part of the comedy.
One could also argue in Bored’s favor, “It’s just a comedy show! It’s funny! Look what crazy adventures they get into! They do so much hilarious running-around!" But when none of this is grounded in any reality, with no repercussions for anything that happens, when guns don’t even really matter, it all becomes a non-funny wash.
This lack of stakes was never more clearly on-display than in Ted Danson’s character arc this season. In a really awesome, interesting twist, his character George was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And I thought, "Wow, that was unexpected." The show had been so fluffy-light that to suddenly bring cancer into it seemed smart, suddenly grounding everything in a new way. Lo and behold, after about 4 episodes of dealing with his cancer, the show shit all over any reality it had created when it turned out George didn’t have cancer at all. It had just been a clerical error the whole time; his last name had been confused with some other guy’s. Really, people? Really? Sigh.
So, though a small part of me still wants to like this show, still loves seeing so many fun Brooklyn locations on my TV screen, and still thinks there’s some potential for all these elements to come together in the right way, most of me realizes I already watch too many TV shows anyway, and it’s time to let one go. Farewell, Bored.