TV Recap: Hello Ladies, “The Date” (1.3)

"Hello Ladies"

10/13/2013, 10:30PM (EST), HBO

“The Date” has the audience come full circle in their view of Stuart, from hapless nice guy to asshole to, well, hapless nice guy again. This softer, more empathetic side of Stuart is a more than welcome return to the dynamics of the pilot. While last week’s episode was good, the nasty, manipulative side of Stuart that we saw didn’t gel as well with the show’s comedy bones as the gormless, idiot does.

Physical comedy is used brilliantly in this episode, with Merchant’s impressive height used to its fullest comedy value. What better source for a giggle than a tall man doing yoga? While this bit of slapstick is a great addition to Hello Ladies the verbal comedy still reigns supreme.

Stuart finally gets a date-a real date-in episode three. Annie, a worker at the juice bar in Stuart’s gym, agrees to go on a date with him, even after his sidelong lunge into the drinks cabinet. This small piece of validation turns Stuart into “the Master”, a dating god who knows all the little tricks of texting to get a girl’s interest. It turns out that’s not entirely based in reality; his games turn back on him when Annie’s silence causes him to drift into a well of paranoia.

The date itself is a sit-com staple; expensive restaurant picked by the girl, man not able to afford anything but a starter etc etc. but it works, and a well-executed exchange over the price of a bottle of wine is used to great effect.

helloladies103Running parallel to this storyline is Jessica’s realization that she’s falling out of the acting game. With the return of a friend from shooting “that Leonardo Di Caprio movie” she decides its time to get an audition. Put into the 30-40 category, much to her dismay, she ends up auditioning for a tampon commercial-at the same time that her friend is auditioning for Martin Scorsese in the room next door. The following sequence is cringe worthy, and completely transfixing – you don’t want to watch but you kind of have to. This particular sequence reminded me of the Ashley Jensen character, Maggie, in Extras; too nice not to go through with it, but completely misjudging her attempts to make it ‘better’.

Meanwhile, Wade is still coming to terms with his divorce. He grows obsessed with that fact that no one will know if he slips and falls in the shower. He invents a system where lonely people in his office text AG (All Good) to each other every few hours so as to avoid being trapped needing help. This storyline felt like a bit of a tack-on (perhaps some favorite writers’ room leftovers?). There were so many ways it could have been used in better and funnier ways, but in actuality the storyline kind of peters out without payoff.

Hello Ladies continues to entertain, with the characters growing more rounded with every passing episode. The return to the dynamics of the pilot brings a more cohesive feel to the show and allows the audience to empathise with Stuart and Jessica in their respective journeys through the awkwardness of everyday life.

The Roundup

  • “Why would I play a game called Mini Golf . . . I’m a giant!”
  • Jessica proclaims of beautiful actresses: “We won’t date you.” Oh dear, is their romantic journey at an end? Somehow I think not.
  • The moment when Stuart walks over the door of his convertible into his car will still make me laugh next week.
  • Tip number one for “The Master”: Don’t read a girl’s texts, it always ends in a comedic case of mistaken identity.

80/100 ~ GREAT. The return to the dynamics of the pilot brings a more cohesive feel to the show and allows the audience to empathise with Stuart and Jessica in their respective journeys through the awkwardness of everyday life.

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Charlotte Keeys

Staff Film Critic. Visit my personal blog at Jackanory Reviews
Film has always been a massive part of my life, and now I am able to pester everyone with my views, not just my immediate friends and family - so that's great. I live in the UK and am based between Kent (in the south) and Edinburgh (in Scotland). I write for TQS Magazine, as well as indie newspapers and my own blog
  • Bean

    Totally agree with everything you’ve said. Last episode I was scared that this was the path the show would take us- Stuart being a desperate asshole but inducing little empathy. However this week went right back to seeing his humanity and somewhat charming nature, all the while being an absolute idiot.

    Jessica, once again, has a great storyline, this week being probably the funniest. Her character is I think the best thought out and well rounded, offering the right amount of sympathy and cringe-worthiness.

    Overall I am once again excited about the show, and I hope it continues on this path of Stuart being a lonely desperate man who you sometimes sympathize with rather than the downright ass he was last week.