This is the week our Netflix Pick of the Week column gets back to its roots. The whole concept was to find obscure series buried deep in the Netflix library, watch them for the first time, and report back to you.
We’ve picked some easy ones as of late, some real top of the list talent. Now we’re back to endlessly scrolling until something looks appealing. It’s an empty feeling when you take at least 10 minutes worth of your precious time to scroll and eventually hit rock bottom. No decisions made, no reward. On my journey I found plenty of fun, potential Netflix POTW candidates, but couldn’t pull the trigger. So I scrolled back up.
Sometimes there is really no explanation on how you settle on certain Netflix titles. That movie has a funny title? Sure why not. That cover has a picture of Kevin Dillon? I like Kevin Dillon. He was funny on Entourage!
And that’s exactly how I started watching How to Be a Gentleman, this week’s Netflix Pick of the Week.
Back in 2011, when How I Met Your Mother was experiencing a resurgence in interest, Barney Stinson’s Bro Code seemed to be working so well for CBS that the network took a shot on the opposite male role model: a straight-edge, blazer wearing non-ladies man. They found an actor who made for a promising showrunner and already had experience in a similar role. David Hornsby—longtime It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia writer, executive producer, and the occasional guest star as the fan favorite “Cricket”—created and stars in How to Be a Gentleman.
As a teenager, Hornsby was given John Bridges’ etiquette book of the same name, and eventually reached out to Bridges with a proposal to bring the book to life through a sitcom. After obtaining the rights to the book and writing a spec script, CBS picked up the pilot for the fall of 2011. The man who contributed or himself wrote some brilliant episodes of Always Sunny now had his own vehicle. In the passenger seat was established comedic sidekick Kevin Dillon, who was coming off a long-running series of his own, Entourage. Throw in another Always Sunny, and 24 veteran, Mary Lynn Rajskub and you have a promising core.
As Hornsby would find, CBS is a land far, far away from the friendly cable confines of FX. How to Be a Gentleman showed some promising moments in its first and only season, but unlike How I Met Your Mother, a show given nine lives, or Always Sunny, it wasn’t given nearly enough time to find an audience.
Andrew Carlson has no friends, his fiancé left him and his weekly “How to Be A Gentleman” column for a presumably national magazine is on the chopping block. After his sister (Mary Lynn Rajskub) gives him a gym gift certificate, Andrew runs into Bert (Kevin Dillon), an old high school bully, who is the head trainer and owner of the gym. Already good at being a gentleman, the uptight Andrew needs someone to teach him to be a man. Luckily, Bert is an asshole and needs a place to crash and the buddy comedy is well on its way to being just mediocre enough for you to watch and not shield your eyes.
The show is a part of a unique group of shows that portray the job of a columnist as a lucrative endeavor. If only I could write this column once a week and live in a downtown Chicago loft or write a lifestyle feature in a magazine and yuck it up with the elite in New York. Looking at you, Carrie Bradshaw.
1; 9 episodes
Why You Should Watch It:
You’ve already watched every episode of How I Met Your Mother, Two and A Half Men, and Mike and Molly? You really miss Entourage? You need more Rickety Cricket in your life? Shows with a laugh track are easier on your brain?
It’s not the worst premise for a sitcom in recent memory. Hell, Two Broke Girls endures. However, I have no good answer for why you should watch How to Be a Gentleman other than Kevin Dillon is as entertaining as they come. He gets more screen time here than he did with his crowded HBO ensemble and almost makes up for the hit or miss writing. Can we fault Hornsby? Yes and no. He knew what he was getting into by making a deal with CBS. What flies on FX—the follies of the degenerates that own Paddy’s Pub—wasn’t going to cut it on network television.
This Series is For You If:
You want to watch PG versions of this joke…
After three episodes I was ready to move on. I wrote this column and I was done with it. Until I got bored and gave the show another chance, mostly because I was too lazy to play the scroll game again. I saw How to be a Gentleman through to the end and as far as sitcoms go, if Two and a Half Menis still on the air post-Charlie Sheen, then Hornsby deserved another season to teach America some manners. Stick with it till the end and you have a short, fun binge-watch.
Previous Netflix Picks of the Week: