Watching adults sidestep confrontation and circumvent difficult situations with unnecessarily elaborate avoidance tactics is a sitcom staple and can be comedy gold. See almost every episode of Seinfeld ever.
On Weird Loners Season 1 Episode 2, Caryn goes to extreme measures to avoid disappointing her out-of-state Nana, while Zara helps Eric cope with his dad’s death, calling on a little help from beyond the grave.
The plot may not quite hit the mark, but “Weird Dance” does expose the underlying problem of one of the series’ central characters, while it also shows signs of finding its footing as a critique of the oversaturated sitcom romance.
"Weird Dance" opens with Stosh waking to find Eric watching him sleep – a ritual he performed daily when his dad slept in that same room, followed by the debatably more creepy act of singing to him while he showered.
We are meant to find this 34-year-old man’s dependency on his father humorous, but an adult man serenading his father while he showers seems more disturbing than funny.
As a character, Eric continues to be problematic. Nate Torrence is an extremely funny actor, but there is only so much he can do with a character whose childlike naivety is written so sincerely that it makes it almost difficult to laugh with or at him.
“Weird Dance” further develops Eric and Zara’s friendship, one that appears to be central to the series given the clearly defined coupling of Stosh and Caryn. (For a show called “Weird Loners” they are coming out of the gate strong with obvious pairings.)
Eric shares that he previously spent almost every waking moment he wasn't working with his father, who it seems was his only friend. To help him grieve (or enable his dependence), Zara pretends to contact his dad in a makeshift seance, allowing Eric to communicate with him through her.
What begins as an opportunity for closure becomes a day spent doing typical father/son activities: playing football, watching the Mets, and finding time for a little relaxation at an all-male sauna. The last of which brings a few laughs, since the image of Zara in a men’s bathhouse is easy comedy.
However, Eric is still too one-dimensional for me to feel comfortable. Anyone who has seen Hello Ladies knows Torrence can play this lovably naïve character type well and make it very funny to watch. Unfortunately, what characterizes Eric as a "weird loner" is a complete lack of self-awareness. This separates him from the rest of the foursome, whose "loner" status is a personal choice.
It would be one thing if he was a thirty-something man living in his parents' basement and surviving off their ready-made dinners and free laundry service, but Eric seems like an overgrown child who needs someone to take care of him in every respect and is lost in the world without that parental figure.
Stosh: Rambo still out there?
Eric: No, she had spin class.
Meanwhile, Caryn will do anything to avoid telling her Nana that she is not getting married. She considers marrying Howard just to avoid confronting the issue. Instead, in an uncharacteristic turn of events, Stosh shows up in Florida to save the day.
Here’s my problem with this: Stosh spent the earlier part of the episode crawling through the ceiling to avoid dealing with a jilted cross-bow wielding ex-lover. We are suppose to believe he flew from New York to Florida to play fake fiancée for a woman he met last week?
Sure, they are becoming friends, but not enough has happened to make this believable. If it was a shorter travel distance or this episode happened in the season finale, I would maybe buy it.
Eric: How'd she know where to find you anyway?
Stosh: I'm pretty sure she did something to my phone. My GPS keeps trying to steer me into oncoming traffic.
However, the series knows that Stosh is not Prince Charming. He is not a knight swooping in to save the day. And yet he does. Why?
Ultimately, it is a scene that pokes fun at the sitcom romance – and it does add dimension to the show, highlighting it as the farcical representation that it is intended to be. After impressing Nana (and Caryn) with a salesperson pitch of their fake whirlwind romance, he cues up an old love song “When We Get Married” and puts on a show.
As he takes Caryn’s hand dramatically, the camera slows and the lights dim. But the moment is very self-reflexive and they are quickly jolted back into the fluorescent hospital lighting and the uncomfortable reality of this superficial moment.
Stosh: Kids are such dicks.
Caryn: I know. And so sticky.
Earlier in the episode, after Stosh makes a move on an unsuspecting Caryn and she half-heartedly rebukes him with a mouthful of yogurt, he shrugs it off as part of the "dance" – a cynical retrospect on whatever courtship is happening between them and what seems to be a commentary on the will they, won't they pairings blanketing television today. We know they will, they always do.
If Weird Loners continues to find itself by way of this self-referential commentary on sitcom romance there could be potential for the series. This, along with additional development of Eric’s character, which would allow the show to make full use of Torrence’s talents, could make all the difference when it comes time for Fox to make a decision on the series.
Did you think “Weird Dance” hit the mark? What was your favorite moment from the episode? Will you be back for Weird Loners Season 1 Episode 3?
If you missed any episodes, you can always watch Weird Loners online at TV Fanatic.