Synopsis: The complete first series of this smart, new sketch comedy show explores the hilarious truth about you, your friends, your girlfriends, your boyfriends, your kids and pretty much anything that’s worth having a laugh about. It’s about getting, keeping and losing love. It’s about growing up.
Produced by Ash Atalla (The Office – UK), this ensemble piece brings together an irresistible collection of personalities including some of today’s best comedy actors including Amanda Abbington (Teachers), Ben Crompton (Ideal), Daisy Haggard (Green Wing), Meredith MacNeill (Confetti), Nicholas Burns Burns (Nathan Barley), and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz).
It’s your life – only funnier.
Pulled by references to ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘Hot Fuzz’, and the British version of ‘The Office’, as well as an extremely low price, I picked up this series without knowing anything about it. I figured that the pedigree/price ratio was good enough for me and decided that I was ready to take a chance on it.
While my rating doesn’t seem to indicate this, I quite enjoyed the concept of ‘Man Stroke Woman’. It offers up short vignettes in an on-location sketch-show format, and tackles the absurdity of human behaviour in a number of contexts – especially in romantic relationships of all sorts.
The humour is quirky and wacky and the performances are generally quite good. In fact, the cast is very funny, even though Meredith MacNeill is frequently too over-the-top for my taste; she’s funny, but she’s so exuberant that it makes almost all her scenes hard to believe. I imagine that she would be great in screwball comedies.
The first season starts off with promise, with a fresh and absurd spin on various bits, but it quickly becomes highly repetitive from episode to episode, rehashing the exact same gags time and again. As far as I’m concerned, repetition is fine in the context of the same episode, because it’s like returning to a recurring theme. However, ALSO re-doing the same thing from episode to episode becomes tedious; it’s basically hammering the audience into submission.
Some of the recurring sketches are: an absent-minded father who keeps mixing up his baby with other stuff, and ends up doing all sorts of careless things; a heartbroken man who starts to bawl uncontrollably at the mere thought of his ex, thereby becoming totally inarticulate and forcing others to try to guess what he’s saying; clerks at a make-up counter who poke fun at their clients with the help of their floor manager; a woman who has a daring but clueless fashion sense and subjects her bf/husband to her atrocious choices; two friends in seemingly typical contexts discover that one of them has never actually been exposed to these experiences before, consequently reacting incredulously.
If one were to watch a single episode, it would probably come off quite well. I would even rate them 8.0, or even 8.5. But, seeing as the shows feature pretty much interchangeable skits in them, they lose most of their flavour as a whole. The advantage of their format, however, is that small bits can be posted online and function separately – given that the shows don’t have a throughline proper.
So I might suggest just going on Youtube and watching brief segments here and there, for quick laughs, and simply enjoy the skits as such. Taking on the whole series is quite redundant and does the material no favours whatsoever. So savour ‘Man Stroke Woman’s bits in little wittle bites; in moderation, it’s quite a lot of fun and worth quite a few laughs.