Like Selfie, A to Z got an early release on Hulu.com. I’ve watched it and have some definite opinions on this TV version of a romantic comedy.
To the plot!
Andrew is a romantic guy who believes in “The One.” Unfortunately, he’s alone and working for a dating agency that puts making money above making matches. Zelda, his counterpart, is an unromantic lawyer. She’s also alone, but unlike Andrew, she doesn’t mind it much.
They meet when Zelda comes in the dating agency to speak with the boss about her experience (her friend forced her to join up, f.y.i.). As they’re getting to know each other, she and Andrew both admit to feeling like they’ve met before. It isn’t until Andrew remembers a concert some years ago—where he supposedly laid eyes on the woman of his dreams–that he believes he figured out the answer.
So begins the story of Andrew and Zelda’s eight month long relationship.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: A to Z is 500 Days of Summer. And when I say “is,” I mean it’s almost exactly 500 Days of Summer with the names changed.
At first, I was hoping beyond hope that A to Z was being ironic in it’s rip off. It’s not. It has the voice over. It has the same basic plot. It has the same character types. Andrew is Tom and Zelda is Summer (just with a few less manic pixie dream girl sensibilities and a best friend). It’s frustrating because it doesn’t even seem to be trying to be original.
In addition to that, I really don’t like when derivative things don’t approve on the source material, and A to Z doesn’t. Andrew is somehow less likable than Tom–what with his creepy stalking and yammering on about future children on the first date. It was painful to watch, and I couldn’t believe we were actually expected to believe that Zelda would change her mind and go out with him again. He was sending up red flags all over the place.
And Andrew’s best friend, Stu? Just ugh! He embodied one of my least favorite Rom Com tropes of all time: The Brash, Slobby Best Friend. I loathe this character. He appears in 500 Days of Summer, 27 Dresses, and many other films. He’s supposed to be the straight-talking guy pal who urges the reluctant hero onward, but he’s just an unlikable dude-bro. I’m sorry, but this trope needs to be destroyed with fire.
As for Zelda herself, I ended up feeling ambivalent about her. She just wasn’t bad enough compared to Andrew and Stu to be memorable. Obviously, I disliked that she was stupid enough to give Andrew another chance AND actually feel bad about keeping the secret about her dress from the creepo. She disappointed me but, as a character, could potentially have been salvaged on another show.
Zelda’s best friend, Stephie, was only redeemable by the fact that she was played by the charismatic Lenora Crichlow of Being Human fame. I loved her as Annie and, for me, that gave the character a pass for one episode of this show.
I didn’t expect a whole lot from A to Z, but it failed to deliver even on my meager expectations. I’m not a huge fan of this move toward Rom Com Comedies, but A to Z is definitely one of the worst of the genre (see About a Boy, if you want a passable one). I didn’t laugh once, and I just found myself incredibly frustrated by it’s central premise. (I can’t imagine that A to Z will stay on long, but if it does, the whole “Eight Months” thing could turn problematic.)
I don’t really enjoy bashing things, but I just didn’t like A to Z at all. I won’t say it’s not worth watching–I’m sure there are some people out there who will like it–but if you like your TV comedies to focus more on the funnies and less on the love story, this show will not be for you.
I definitely won’t be tuning in to watch A to Z this fall. I’d much rather rewatch The Crazy Ones, Happy Endings, or Community.
How do you feel about television comedies that are romantic comedies in disguise? Do you have a favorite comedy of all time?