E for effort. The humor is wry, dry and sometimes non-existent in this mockumentary about the production of a documentary about a radio show and the twenty-something guys that host it. The titular radio show, The Wingmen, is a dating and relationship advice show by three guys who don’t date, that gets axed in the first episode of the series, though the documentary continues. It’s either genius or terrible, though my own feelings about it fall somewhere in the middle.
Created by Brad Anner, Zach Anner, Jordan Crowder, Chris Demarais, Aaron Marquis and Marshall Rimmer (all but Brad star in the show) The Wingmen suffers from a few things, not the least of which is the length of each episode. It’s quite possible that the several creative voices making this show also creates a preciousness that allows things to stay in that should be long gone or at the very least cut way down. The show has its fans out there though, with enough of them rallying behind the boys to net it a Streamy nomination earlier this year for the Audience Choice award.
For example, it takes a full ten minutes to get to the central conflict of the first episode that causes The Wingmen radio show to be canceled. The ensuing conflict is very funny, as host Chris goes apoplectic when a caller calls in asking what to do when the girl he’s seeing is seeing another guy. Chris takes the question only to find out that the girl is his own girlfriend. His epithets are bleeped, but we get the idea as he loses his mind.
It’s not that ten minutes is an eternity in a general sense, but I get bogged down with semi-funny non sequiturs that last too long like Jordan’s one-song repertoire on the piano, or long discussions of the boys’ preference to stay single. Is it funny when Zach says that installing a second toilet in a bathroom is not love, but merely pooping together? Yes. I see the value in these things, but there’s a lot of fat in there too. And not all funny fat.
I can’t say that I liked any episode in particular because they were all too long and meandering, but there are gems inside of each. Episode two is where the radio show is officially canceled and the meeting with station manager Michael Champion (played by Michael Champion) is very funny, especially when wheelchair bound Zach, dives out of his chair onto Champion’s desk in protest, then later expresses his regret at having dived out of his chair. Another moment of sheer brilliance that’s a bit too long is when the boys strip down to their underwear at the laundromat to wash all of their clothes, then get kicked out when Chris loses his mind once again over his girlfriend. On the street. No clothes. Funny. However, it’s almost two episodes in one.
As far as the production, the direction is good, the camerawork is fine, a little agitated, but you get used to it and the “acting” isn’t bad. I quote that because the guys are so natural that you get a sense that there isn’t much acting going on here, as much as them just being themselves. To be honest, this is a very warm review for a show that needs a lot of work and the main reason for that is because I like these guys. They all met at the University of Texas and came up with the idea for the show because they actually had a radio show that actually got canceled because they weren’t funny. Which is funny.
The series is basically the aftermath of the cancellation, and as a result it’s basically about a documentary that’s lost its subject. There is something so meta about it, that sometimes as a viewer I felt like I wasn’t sure what the show was about. And then I realized that beyond the doc, the radio show and the dating service, what it’s really about is a group of friends who are lonely and looking for love, or at least circling love and sometimes talking about it because they can’t find it with anyone but each other. And if anything would bring me back to this series, it would be to spend time with the tragicomedy of their devotion to each other and their misunderstanding and lack of love from the opposite sex. Take a look at Episode four when the boys start a ‘shifty’ dating service to raise the fifteen grand they’ve been fined by the FCC. Chris goes on one of the funniest and saddest cheap dates I’ve ever seen and shows us just how inept these boys are when it comes to love.
The series is worth checking out, but be forewarned, there are yawn moments. My hope is that these guys find an objective editor to cut them down because frankly, though there are five episodes, they could probably use much of what they have here and just split them into twice as many.