Oh the cringe worthy comedy of this weeks Hello Ladies is pure gold. The sitcom staple, the dinner party, is used to it full horrifying potential as Stuart and Jessica attempt to impress at a society dinner party in the LA hills. Populated with “taste makers and ground breakers” this looks like the worst, most awkward dinner party anyone has been too … ever!
Each going with their own agenda, Stuart to try and hook up with a model (again) and Jessica to not be outdone by her ‘friend’ (again), the sheer social awkwardness of the couple is manipulated brilliantly on a rollercoaster ride of near misses and totally disasters.
With Stuart swinging from childhood bullying stories to outrageous gay jokes, the audience is kept in suspense just wondering when, not if, this whole thing will come crashing around their ears. Jessica’s hidden talent emerges in this episode – a penchant for tap dancing. Competing to impress the editor of the rising talent section of Vanity Fair, Jessica’s friend gives a rousing rendition of “Somewhere” from West Side Story, to counter Jessica reveals a talent for tap, giving a surprisingly long and athletic performance, which leaves the assembled guests somewhat bemused.
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Following on from a solid pilot Hello Ladies fully hits its stride in episode two. The interplay and parallels between the disastrous nights of Stuart and his tenant Jessica creates a darkly comic storyline.
Stuart’s overwhelming self-interest creates a brilliant opening scene in which he manages to ruin both Jessica’s shoot and Wade’s romantic gesture to his wife in less than five minutes. This selfishness is coming more to the fore as a main facet of Stuart’s personality. I anticipate (and look forward to) many a laugh at his expense.
As Wade’s marriage falls further and further into disrepair, the boys are once again left to console their friend with a night on the town in LA. As the title of the show suggests, Stuart’s focus on ‘The Ladies’ causes him no end of trouble.
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As one half of multi-award winning writing team behind Extras and (the original) The Office Stephen Merchant is well known in the UK as the on-screen simpleton sidekick of Ricky Gervais. Now in HBO’sHello Ladies Merchant takes the lead as unlucky in love Stuart, a web designer living in LA.
Based on Marchant’s first ever stand-up tour of the same name, an experience which he apparently didn’t enjoy as much as writing, Merchant has settled into something much more familiar – penning a sit-com.