Monday, November 4, 2013

SUPER FUN NIGHT Still Not Fun, But Less Painful

Article first published as SUPER FUN NIGHT Still Not Fun, But Less Painful on TheTVKing.

ABC's Super Fun Night got a lot of flack initially for being a terrible show. I'm not saying the criticisms were not deserved; they absolutely were. But as each installment plays out and the series finds its legs a little better, it continues to improve. It still has quite a ways to go before I would label it "good," but since it's moving on the right track, I thought it worth highlighting this week.

The Halloween episode of Super Fun Night actually aired a couple of weeks ago, and wasn't that impressive, other than a fantastic musical number in the end tag, which was even better than the pretty decent theme song (the show could definitely benefit from more of these). It's notable, though, because in it, Kendall (Kate Jenkinson) slept with Richard (Kevin Bishop), much to the disappointment of Kimmie (Rebel Wilson). This seems pretty predictable, while at the same time not really making sense for the characters the way they have been laid out.

The show has course corrected since, though, by deepening the personalities. Last week, we see that Richard actually does have feelings for Kendall and is trying to make it work. While Kendall can be mean, it's understandable Richard would go for her when she expresses interest as we learn more of his neurosis, which make him less desirable to most women. I don't think they will end up together, but at least their pairing has started to feel more authentic.

In the latest episode, "Go with Glorg," it's Kimmie's turn to see there's more to Kendall than what's on the surface. Kimmie goes into the story hating Kendall, but unable to turn away from an upset person, Kimmie offers an olive branch and Kendall gratefully accepts. They end up drinking the night away in a development that seems like it will last past the end of the half hour.

Kendall is still the jerk on the show, and that's OK. She isn't going to suddenly turn sweet, and if she did, it would feel like a big cop out. But it's nice to see some of her vulnerabilities shine through, and we actually come to understand her a bit. Kimmie remains the good person at the core of the series, and it also informs on who Kimmie is when we see how she treats Kendall, even when Kimmie has no good reason to be nice to her enemy.

Reforming a villain is not a new concept, but it's one that often works if done correctly. It can't happen too fast, and it needs to start naturally. The latter is satisfied in "Go with Glorg," and we'll wait and see if the former can be, too.

What will make Super Fun Night come together is when it figures out how to handle the ensemble. The Kimmie-Kendall-Richard stuff is finally working nicely, but Kimmie's personal life doesn't mesh up very well. In "Go with Glorg," Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash) go to a TV show convention with Dan (John Gemberling), Ruby (Dan Ahdoot), and Benji (Paul Rust). Now, the five of these characters together blend, but they seem apart from Kimmie, almost like there are two different shows going on.

How can this be resolved? Well, Richard has already been shown to be awkward and geeky and likes Kimmie's friends, so it doesn't seem like it would be too hard to fold him into the gang. And Kendall is desperate for company, so she could be present, as long as she protests the entire time. When this merger is complete, Super Fun Night could still do work-based stories, but Kimmie's co-workers also need to be integrated with the social subplots in order to make the series feel cohesive.

This plot with Kimmie's friends isn't great in "Go with Glorg." Marika approaches the star of the show she's a big fan of, which is a take-off of Xena, Alison (Brooke Shields, Suddenly Susan), who is rude to her. At this point, we haven't been given much reason to care about Marika, and with the Kimmie / Kendall thing so much more interesting, it is even worse. Plus, the ending is so boring and done before. Had this happened down the line, it could have made for an effective, though middling, story, but until the show spends time building up Marika, getting the viewers to love her, it should stay away from plots like this.

So, basically, there are some things Super Fun Night is starting to do right, and some elements that remain quite messy. Will it fix itself, or get canceled first?

Super Fun Night airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

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