I came to this show in an odd way. On one hand I had planned to watch it for a while as I enjoy Merchant for his most popular work, whether it be writing the UK Office, or his 'Wheatley' in Portal 2. On the flipside though, I had seen all the negative commentary on the show, and heard from people who had seen that it was not great. I left it for ages but eventually sat to watch it, keen to like it, but also aware that it would probably disappoint. It was interesting viewing then to have both of these things come to be true because the show is both some good elements of Merchant's awkward comedy, mixed with plenty that simply doesn't work.
The plot is a British guy living in LA trying to land a relationship with a model, and spectacularly failing to do so. In the course of its 8 episodes it offers lots of awkward social interactions where Stuart finds himself on the outside looking in - treated badly, trying his hardest, but left with wounded price and nothing to show for it. On the face of it, the character should manage to be the same tragic monster that Partridge and Brent managed to be - someone who makes you cringe but at the same time you feel for them and want them to see that part of them and change it so they can succeed. The failure of Hello Ladies is that the latter half of that doesn't happen. Stuart is rarely more than a superficial creep, and his pursuit of models doesn't really let any humanity come through. In 4+ hours of time, there are a few cracks that suggest more, but they only suggest it - certainly it is not enough to save the character.
It is a shame, because the show gets the cringe factor bang on, but it doesn't deliver the heart to balance it. Merchant is the key failing in doing this, as he doesn't make the most of the few times when he has the shot at heart. By contrast the supporting cast do deliver this well. Woods was great; she is all the pain and enthusiasm of an aspiring actress, and it makes her character really engaging and accessible. Likewise Torrence offers a nice holding character against the impact of Stuart; but it surely shouldn't work that the main character needs the supports to draw the viewer in?
In small moments, and in the final episode, the show finds the person within the cringe, but mostly it only celebrates the cringe by making Stuart cruel and superficial. This produces a season which is funny, pained, and enjoyable on that level, but offers almost nothing behind that to make the viewer care. That Merchant has written shows that have done much, much better at this only adds to the feeling that Hello Ladies falls short.
0 out of 0 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.