Joe Flanders, who sports tousled hair and a soft, passive voice, seems tailor-made to play the lead role in a Judd Apatow production. As the creator and star of Average Joe, a new comedy on Funny or Die, Flanders reminds me of Jason Segel’s downtrodden wreck from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Michael Cera’s awkward Superbad hero. His well-executed lead and a supporting appearance from his celebrity cousin give Average Joe everything it needs to become a breakout hit.
The series stars Flanders as Joe, a hopelessly meek protagonist who gets dumped by his girlfriend after she catches him watching bukkake (if you don’t know what bukkake is, I would warn you to learn at your own risk.) Joe must then reassemble his broken life with the help of his sarcastic and cutting friends. We’ve only seen one of six episodes so far, but the setup seems pretty standard and exists mainly as a skeleton to support the show’s writing.
Luckily, Average Joe does have a pretty good script, which features the same crude humor, referential goofiness and invented lingo that drive the aforementioned Judd Apatow films. My personal favorite line was Joe’s friend’s reaction after seeing his new tattoo of his now-ex-girlfriend: “Is that Edward James Olmos?” The production value is low, but aside from the low sound quality sometimes making hard to hear the dialogue, it’s not a particularly big problem; the single-camera style actually does well to establish a low-key tone that works well for Average Joe.
The series has something else going for it: Flanders’ cousin is Andy Biersack, the lead singer of the glam rock band Black Veil Brides. Biersack plays one of Joe’s friends, and his involvement in the series has allowed it to generate a good amount of buzz on Twitter. Biersack plays a good foil for Joe; if Flanders is reminiscent of an Apatow hero, then Biersack is the wisecracking-but-ultimately-helpful best friend.
Biersack will help Average Joe gain a following, but it should be successful regardless. It’s a fairly funny series, and I hope Flanders won’t mind if I start using the term “Mexican 1” when utilizing the hotness scale.