It says something about our times that the sight of a young man with unabashed enthusiasm for his job is an instant recipe for humor. Maybe we’re just too jaded, as a whole.
That said, as HillRats demonstrates, it hasn’t gotten old yet.
Created by Daniel Jones, Kate Schuler and Caleb Stewart, and starring Josh Ruben of CollegeHumor infamy (who we saw most recently in the Graduates pilot not so long ago), HillRats takes the formula tried and tested by shows like Scrubs—a naively gung-ho protagonist who is surrounded by a set of hilariously cynical co-workers – and applies it to the world of Capitol Hill. Politics junkies, take heart; this may not replace The West Wing, but it’s certainly worth giving a look or two.
The show is centered around Will (Ruben), a “special assistant” to one Senator Carlin Fitzpatrick (Lenny Levy). Will’s video-blogging habit forms the context of the show’s events – most episodes are introduced with Will’s friendly face reflecting upon the day’s happenings – which is a nice little web-television way to set the narrator’s point of view without using internal monologues (a la J.D. from Scrubs). Ruben’s enthusiasm is perfectly offset by the crushing reality of his immediate boss, Melissa (Caroline Ashbaugh), his fellow assistant Allison (Jacqueline Caruso), the scheming ineptitude of Bart, the senator’s senior assistant, (John Cramer), and the Senator himself; together, they form a perfectly dysfunctional office unit.
Personally, I thought HillRats had a lot going for it from the beginning – the idea of the show alone was enough to get me interested, and Ruben’s work with Graduates only further stimulated my appetite. I have to say, though, it’s rare that a series gets me hooked within the first few minutes of the first episode, but HillRats pulled it off two minutes into episode one, when Melissa ruthlessly dissects Will’s ambitions and motivation – and Will takes it as a sign of a potentially profound friendship. Nice play, guys – you’ve got at least one fan at Tubefilter now.
As of this writing, HillRats is five episodes in – each episode ranging from about three minutes to six minutes – and it’s set to come out every Monday. So far, the show’s conflict is centered around Senator Fitzpatrick’s attempts to defend his seat against his coming opponent, Representative Harvey Kellogg (Jefferson Smith), the dream candidate who takes Will under his wing – and who Will is unwittingly tricked into spying upon. If HillRats sounds like an issue you can get behind, go ahead and check out more at the site or read Will’s blog.