And when their dating lives got too dominant, we always had Stanley or Phyllis or Ron to distract us.
, it was a workplace sitcom about a community of weirdos whose eccentricities improbably made them (a) good at their jobs and (b) believable as a group of professional friends. First, there's the insistence on having major characters date each other. That's partially because the coupling characters were played by actors with genuine chemistry.
The jokes sprang naturally from their efforts to catch bad guys, or else from the moments when someone from a character's personal life wandered into the station, awkwardly making everyone realize that their squadmate was also a person with a life. Did you guys know that a romantic plot thread isn't actually a requirement of a network sitcom? Steve Carell and Amy Ryan, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer, Amy Poehler and Adam Scott, even Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe…they all just clicked.
In either case, there was a refreshing focus on the specificity and intensity of people's connections with their co-workers. Like its predecessors, the new series was also joyous and decent, finding empathetic humor in the ways well-meaning people screw up. Plus, they were all written as people who were friends first, then slowly evolved to become lovers.
We understood why these people liked each other before they got together, which made it easier to enjoy the progress of their relationships.
When Boyle and Gina got together last year, the show never pretended it was anything other than a crazy-ass fling, and instead, it allowed both characters to funnel their emotional growth toward their parents' love affair. Comparatively, this tired-ass "they hate each other so much that they love each other" story is boring and irritating.
If I want Sam and Diane, I'll watch about this dumb relationship in one way or another.
Even Captain Holt, who is not even assigned to the precinct anymore, is trying to keep the lovebirds together. Which brings me to the show's other painful echo of Schur's earlier comedies: The arbitrary splintering of the group.
Accordingly, these two emotional children have an entirely antagonistic relationship that reinforces their immaturity.
And when that's just part of the mix in the station, it's great.
But I'm not buying the "opposites attract" thing here.
Why should any of us want to watch people with no apparent emotional capacity for serious love front like they're getting serious?