Photo: Michael Gibson/FXX

Man Seeking Woman might be kicking off its third season with the titular quest already fulfilled, but the premiere should allay any concerns that the tone or style might drastically change along with Josh’s romantic status. “Futon’s” not quite a great episode, as one of the central conceits quickly becomes unwieldy. But what a way to introduce new cast member Katie Findlay, late of The Magicians and How To Get Away With Murder. She quickly establishes Lucy as not just a great partner for Josh, but someone who’s worth spending the rest of the season with. Because before she meets Patti—and boy, is that going to be something, judging by the season trailer—she’s got to pass muster with viewers. We’re giving up painfully awkward first dates and the premise of the show for this, after all.

Jay Baruchel’s done a great job getting fans on Josh’s side, though, so I found myself rooting for Lucy even before she’d endured a no-good, horrible day. We don’t get much of a sense of who she is or what she does, though she apparently knows her big cats. When a co-worker rolls his eyes as she rolls around with the puma, I briefly wondered if Lucy’s bad days are a common occurrence. But more likely, it’s just to heighten the pleasure of clicking with someone on a first date. We aren’t privy to Josh and Lucy’s dinner conversation, but it goes well enough that, possible tetanus aside, she tells her roommate she had a good day.

The scene probably would have played out in much the same manner from Josh’s perspective, which is probably the whole point. Now, I don’t think Lucy’s just a female analogue to Josh, but because this is a season opener, it does have to hit some familiar beats for viewers new and old. The budding romance part works well, but “Futon” loses its grip before it even starts bringing in the other regulars. Because while Josh and Lucy might be thrilled by their potent and immediate connection, their relationship upsets other areas of their lives. Josh quickly wears out his welcome (if indeed it ever existed; we don’t see him meet her roommates) at Lucy’s apartment after making himself a little too at home.

Writer Dan Mirk’s misguided attempt to touch on the immigration debate via their falling out isn’t distasteful so much as poorly handled. It’s just too much of a stretch to compare a new boyfriend’s ardor with the desperation of an immigrant, so the metaphor’s strained. A joke about Josh not speaking the language because he can’t distinguish between Bachelor contestants is about as good as it gets. It doesn’t help matters to have Lucy say she’s going to return with Josh to wherever he’s from, because it’s unclear what part of the immigration the decision represents. Again, it’s nothing offensive, just ineffective.

Advertisement

Luckily, it doesn’t take long for the episode to bounce back. Josh’s apartment, with its filthy futon and lava lamp, doesn’t provide greener pastures for the couple. Lucy’s embarrassed by the place, and resorts to drastic, Walter White measures to make it over. This leads to a falling out between the two lovers, but it’s over a fairly common stumbling block. Lucy’s hung up on her closest friends’ opinions, and Josh worries that he’s not good enough for Lucy, or rather, that she doesn’t think he’s good enough for her. Asking for that kind of change so early on in a relationship is usually a bad sign, but it’s also perfectly natural to have some misgivings after such an intense beginning. Josh also appears to be having doubts, and he leaves. Liz correctly guesses he’s gone with Mike (to Guyana, get it?), and warns Lucy that Josh’s best friend could be a real liability for the relationship.

This leads to a bit about Mike being some kind of cult leader which isn’t all that funny, but it is an effective way to reacquaint us with the character and his recent heartbreak. Now that he’s single again, Mike probably just wants hang out with his friend. Josh’s relationship with Lucy, which is back on track by episode’s end, is bound to get in the way. There’s nothing ominous about the way the episode wraps up, but I get the feeling that Mike’s going to have some trouble adjusting.

Advertisement

“Futon” throws a lot at MSW’s newest addition, but Katie Findlay acquits herself nicely. Most of her interactions are with Baruchel, of course, but she handles the tonal shifts well. She manages to be doe-eyed and steely-eyed, goofy yet determined. Not all of the conceits work well, but she’s just so game throughout that her performance smooths over the rough spots. Bring on the rest of the romance—and season!

Stray observations

  • R.I.P. Futie
  • I’m a Chicago native, and as much as I love this show, I’ll never accept its version of the city. The architecture is off (I know, it’s Canadian), as are the waterfront and skyline. And there are few neighborhoods that would require you to have three roommates to make rent. Lucy & Co.’s apartment is nice, but this isn’t New York, where such a thing is required. Maybe Lucy’s in her early 20s, and that’s why she needed the help (but even though, I dunno).
  • But I really want to thank the show for not making me wait to see Britt Lower again. I love Liz so much. I hope that, even after finding the Woman, we still get a Liz-centric episode.
  • Katie Findlay’s “Puma!” followed by “Why?” made me laugh so hard. Tangents aside, I am so pumped about this third season.
  • Full disclosure: Dan Mirk is a former Onion News Network and Onion News Empire writer.
  • Finally, welcome back to TV Club coverage of Man Seeking Woman! I’ve taken over for the talented Kate Kulzick. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

Advertisement