One of the main areas where Weird Loners has been struggling is the character of Eric Lewandowski.
In the first two episodes of the series, Eric's wide-eyed naivety was all-consuming – a swing and a miss at laughs, since he wasn’t in on the joke and it was a little bit like laughing at the kid in the school yard who has no friends and eats lunch by himself.
Luckily, third time may be the charm because Weird Loners Season 1 Episode 3 gives Eric depth, urgency, and most importantly, the ability to make us laugh.
The writing is stronger, the jokes are funnier, and the relationships between the characters are beginning to click in believable ways.
Eric clearly looks up to Stosh, but instead of this being shown through the creepy, co-dependent lens of watching his cousin sleep, "Weirded Out" actually develops this relationship, and it works to make Eric a more well-rounded character.
After Eric tells Stosh it may be time for him to move back to the city, Stosh comes up with a plan to help Eric make friends. Of course, the plan has the ultimate purpose of helping Stosh help Stosh, but it also provides a great opportunity to show Eric’s life outside the townhouse.
Aside from being a friendless 34-year-old man who lived with his parents, sang to his dad in the shower and performed unsolicited puppet shows on his stoop, not much was known about this character. And that was a real problem.
Giving him experiences of his own outside the limited dynamic provided by the group allows his character new life and opportunities for laughs he previously wasn't afforded.
Stosh: Is this another "my father will turn over in his grave" questions?
Stosh: Then no, I would not have moved in.
Eric: Damn it! You could have at least lied to get him back in the right position.
Interacting with his coworkers provides a platform for Eric to develop as a character and for Nate Torrence to have something to do besides imitate a lobotomized person while being the butt of other people’s jokes.
And Eric may not be as dumb as he seems. After the knock-off TV Stosh buys short circuits before the Mets game and Eric’s coworkers leave in a huff, he calls after them: "The Mets were mathematically eliminated in June, by the way." Making Eric actually smart would be a nice twist for the character.
In regards to his relationship with Stosh, which was up until this point just Stosh ragging on him and Eric taking it with a blank, foolish expression, "Weirded Out" puts them on even footing. Sure, Stosh is the smooth-talking ladies man always working an angle and Eric is the awkward, endearing cousin known for looking on the bright side, but they are functioning as foils now and Eric is not just an easy target.
Caryn: What is this poor woman going to say when you don't marry her?
Stosh: Oh, same thing as usual, I'm sure. We're kinda in a "fool me 12 times, shame on you" situation.
Aside from Eric’s much-needed character growth, the episode also nicely works with the other relationships. Whereas Caryn and Zara previously seemed a bit awkward (Caryn interrupting Zara’s blessing in Weird Loners Season 1 Episode 2 was uncomfortable), “Weirded Out” starts to work towards developing their friendship, which is an important facet of the show.
Caryn: This is a lot of information. What site is this?
Zara: Am I Dating a Douchebag dot com. By the way, I know you date a lot so I signed you up for the full year.
But, at the end of the day, Weird Loners is a comedy. And despite all the character development in the world, if it doesn’t make you laugh then what’s the point? “Weirded Out” was by far the funniest of the first three episodes.
I would attribute this in large part to Eric’s expanded role, but the funniest moment for me came at the very end when Caryn confronts a broke Stosh about his lying.
She claims that her therapist says it is because he builds “walls of deception.” He angrily counters this statement and rhetorically tells Caryn to tell her therapist that. She does, and relays this to Stosh. The bit goes back and forth until Stosh is crying about his childhood and Caryn realizes he not only stole her groceries, but also her pricey therapy sessions.
He stole therapy from me... and a teeth cleaning.Caryn
With Eric stepping up, the relationships becoming more dynamic and the writing eliciting some much-needed laughs, there may be hope for the series. Only time will tell if Weird Loners has what it takes to stand-out from the other quirky comedies that come and go each spring, but "Weirded Out" was definitely a step in the right direction.
Will you tune in next week for Weird Loners Season 1 Episode 4? What did you think of Eric’s character development? What do you hope to see from the series in coming episodes?
If you just started watching, you can always watch Weird Loners online at TV Fanatic to see the episodes you missed!