October 9, 2013

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Super Fun Night”


SUPER FUN NIGHT:  Wednesday 9:30PM on ABC

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on SUPER FUN NIGHT:  Kimmie (series creator Rebel Wilson) and her BFFs Marika (Lauren Ash) and Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) share a New York apartment and nonexistent romantic life.  One night each week, they go out to have adventures.  On the professional front, Kimmie is a lawyer at a firm where the senior partner’s nice English son Richard (Kevin Bishop) likes her, while scheming Kendall (Kate Jenkinson) puts her down at every opportunity.

Episode 2:  There’s something very, very wrong with a comedy when you find yourself agreeing with the mean girl villainess.  One of the plotlines on this episode has Kendall telling Kimmie that she’s the wrong person to be part of a dinner designed to keep a big client from leaving the firm, and really, who could say she’s wrong?  Kimmie’s extreme infantilism and complete inability to read any situation, far from being charming, suggests that she may have something seriously wrong with her.

Tonight’s Super Fun Night managed to be worse not just than last week’s premiere, but even than the original pilot that ABC buried.  In fact, it may have been the single most terrible half-hour any network has aired in the opening weeks of this season–and I say that having watched every episode of Dads.  The script, credited to Co-Executive Producer Brent Forrester, was so witless it could give the viewer a migraine.  The main story had Kimmie, Marika and Helen-Alice deciding, at Kimmie’s insistence, to join a group dating site (the idea that online dating services existed came as a surprise to one of her friends).  The honest entries they wrote were bad enough, but Kimmie tinkered with them, in crazy ways that she considerd “selling the fantasy”–turning herself into a Russian fashion model, Marika into a botanist, and Helen-Alice into a classical oboist.  This somehow lured three male idiots into responding to their listing, but just when the date seemed to be working, Kimmie had to break it off because they wanted to attend one of her “fashion shoots,” which would catch her in her lies.  However–get this–they couldn’t avoid the guys, because it turned out they all live in the same apartment building.  Yet none of the six of them had ever seen the others before.  It’s hard to even measure the laziness and self-indulgence that goes into plotting like this.–not charmingly coincidental, just stupid.

Obviously Super Fun Night doesn’t intend to be “realistic” in any way; defenders, if there were any, would say that it’s just a comedy.  But even the most surreal of comedies has to exist in a universe where actions and reactions make sense (unless the joke is that they don’t, but that’s a completely different kind of humor than a network sitcom).  Any logic on the show is instantly sacrificed for the next (weak) punchline, so the group date set-piece scene makes no sense on any level.  There are weird undercurrents moving through the show as well, including a confusion of empowerment humor with ridicule, and an insistent childishness coupled with fear and hatred of adult behavior, not just among Kimmie and her friends but even in the other characters (the punch-line of the story where Richard and Kendall go out to dinner with the client is the client humiliating Richard by forcing him to cut the client’s steak and feed it to him, bite by bite).  It’s so odd that it might actually be interesting in a different context, but it certainly isn’t funny.

The writing here is so bad that Rebel Wilson, who we know can be a hugely likable, infectious presence, is rendered charmless.  It’s unfair to say much against the other actors, who are just playing the grotesque roles they’ve got, or director Jeffrey Walker, who puts the thing through its paces.  Super Fun Night did an OK job in its debut ratings of following Modern Family, losing 25% of its lead-in, but it’s hard to believe that number won’t drop.  It’s agonizing.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  Change the Channel

PILOT + 1:  Change the Channel NOW


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."