Friday, November 22, 2013

HELLO LADIES, and Goodbye

Article first published as HELLO LADIES, and Goodbye on TheTVKing.

HBO's Hello Ladies aired "The Drive" this Sunday, marking the eighth and final episode of the season. Stuart (Stephen Merchant) drags his friends all over town chasing Kimberly (Heather Hahn, The Beauty Inside), a hot model he wants to get with, his pals' patience soon wearing thin. In the end, they all drift away and Stuart gets the girl. But is that what he really wants?

I wasn't immediately enamored with Hello Ladies when it premiered, despite its fantastic title sequence. Although it has some Merchant hallmarks, proving just how much the star and creator has contributed to his partnerships with Ricky Gervais, it doesn't strike me as very funny, and I have trouble connecting with anyone in the show. However, the more I watch, I realize it is the sad parts of the episodes that resonate, not the humorous parts, and by investing in the emotion, the series got better and better.

Stuart is not a likeable guy. He's selfish, shallow, conceited, and fake. But why? It's because he's long been a loser and has no confidence in himself. His bravado is a coping mechanism, an attitude he tosses up to try to be someone he's not, thinking it improves how others sees him. It doesn't work, but one can understand why he would try.

The longer Stuart holds onto this, the more distant his friends become. In "The Drive," Wade (Nate Torrence) wants to stop by his soon-to-be ex-wife's party. Stuart dismisses this idea, and actually lays into Wade, so Wade goes home instead. Why can't Stuart be a good chum? Why doesn't he support Wade the way that Wade supports him? It can't possibly be long before Wade stops taking Stuart's crap, as he does late in this episode, and decides he's better off without Stuart.

Stuart does right by Jessica (Christine Woods), though. Not only does he leave Kimberly naked and willing in the ocean and doesn't brag about it, but Stuart also refrains from telling Jessica what a douche her sort-of-boyfriend Glenn (Sean Wing) is, knowing it will only hurt her more. Jessica doesn't need further pain, already smarting over the loss of her big acting break. Stuart offers the comfort Jessica seeks and deserves, thus redeeming himself a bit at the last minute.

Jessica is similar to Stuart in many ways, including being self-involved, and yet, she's not a terrible person. We see throughout Hello Ladies that she runs her mouth and makes mistakes, but she is kind to those who matter, such as Wade. Maybe Jessica knows a mostly effective method to balance confidence and caring, and while she's not perfect, Stuart should take some notes.

There is barely a hint of anything romantic between Jessica and Stuart in the entire season. Even when Stuart comes to her aide, he doesn't treat her as anything but a buddy. They have a very brother-sister chemistry, and this is a refreshing and different thing for a television show to do. I really appreciate what the actors have brought to the parts and how they play their roles, both incredible performers.

I don't know if there will be a second season of Hello Ladies, and I'm not even sure there should be because Stuart would have to backslide, erasing the progress he finally makes in "The Drive." Yet, I did really end up liking this season, and I'm glad HBO aired it.

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