Situational comedy is, by nature, a formulaic storytelling medium. It derives its humor from the mechanism of an “everyman” protagonist pushing against the outlandish circumstances that surround him or her. Peas in a Pod does a thorough job of following this formula to the letter, which is unfortunate. It’s not because the formula is broken, but rather because the show lacks the necessary substance to make it work.
Peas‘ biggest flaw lies not in execution but rather in concept. A situational comedy rarely if ever outgrows the quality of its situation, which is why Peas in a Pod‘s premise of “three siblings move into a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment” does far more to hinder the show’s development than the directing, acting, or production ever could.
The protagonist of Peas is a familiar character: the weary older brother who exasperatedly tries to keep his inconsiderate family from imploding. We’ve seen this strain of absurdist domestic comedy before, perhaps most notably on Arrested Development, and by now it should be clear that such a setup requires not only a relatable straight man, but also a collection of well-developed funny men.
Peas‘ hero Frank (played by Seth Coltan) isn’t particularly charismatic or sympathetic as the bumbling manager of the household, so much so that his everyday struggles leave the viewer more ambivalent than anything else; it’s difficult to know whether the audience is supposed to be feeling for Frank or laughing at his expense.
Frank’s most frequent foils are his two freeloading younger siblings, Tom (Scott Weatherby), an unemployed slacker with less character development than an Empire Strikes Back Stormtrooper, and Julie (Courtney Henggeler), an animal rights activist whose ill-conceived plot to recruit celebrity philanthropists is actually one of the few bright spots in the show’s narrative.
Tom and Julie spend much of the screen time finding exceedingly pedestrian ways to aggravate Tom’s authority, from Julie taking over his bedroom to Tom skipping his first day of work to Julie hogging the bathroom to Tom peeing in the shower (which is so hot in Brazil right now, btw.). The show certainly succeeds in reminding the viewer of everyday life – unfortunately, Peas doesn’t provide much of a humorous spin on its subjects, resulting in an underwhelming revisiting of the things that already irritate us on a daily basis.
The characters and plot points are – and this is something I never thought I’d ever complain about – simply too realistic to be entertaining, too mundane to warrant themselves as the focus of a web series. It’s a shame, because, as far as web series go, the acting, directing, and production are all adequate at worst. Still, even though Peas in a Pod does all the little things right, it lacks a “big idea” to propel its narrative when the writing itself falters.
Check it out at PeasInAPodTV.com.