Rebel Wilson is an impressive talent.
From her earliest days on Australian TV when she appeared in shows such as Pizza, The Wedge and Bogan Pride, through to her recent impressive success in Hollywood appearing in films Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect, she has shown a winning flair for combining slapstick humour, winning girl next next door innocence and a willingness to push the edge of whatever comic envelope was in reach.
It’s all added up to a persona so appealing that in only a few years at the epicentre of the US entertainment, she has managed to crack one of the holy grails of success – her own headlining TV sitcom on a major network.
Developed in association with Conan O’Brien’s production team, Super Fun Night is ABC’s big bet that Wilson’s larger-than-life chaming personality can gain her just as much fans on the US small screen as it has in the multiplexes.
It’s a bet that most critics agree they are currently losing (even if the ratings, which marked Super Fun Night as the second biggest sitcom debut among 18-49 year olds of the current season, say otherwise; it does help that it follows Modern Family).
Super Fun Night has opened to reasonably mediocre reviews with Brian Lowry at variety.com noting the show is “occasionally fun, yes, but far from super” and Mary McNamara of latimes.com opining that “though Wilson remains gorgeously fearless in her willingness to go all in, neither the network nor Wilson (she is an executive producer) know quite what to do with that.”
While it is generally agreed that Rebel Wilson is a standout talent in the show, along with her co-stars, Super Fun Night has attracted far more critical brickbats than bouquets, all of which might suggest it is a stinker of a sitcom, held aloft only by the charm and sheer talent of its cast.
Nothing could be further from the truth in my opinion.
While not one of the greatest sitcoms to ever bestride the globe, it is nonetheless a charmingly funny show with a great deal of potential, and a premise that lends itself to all sorts of ongoing fun ideas.
And most importantly I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion, which is more than can be said for some of the other sitcoms that premiered this season.
It is likely the sort of sitcom that will appeal to anyone who has suffered at the hands of the “beautiful people”, the in-crowd who take upon themselves to remind the rest of the world that no one else is as gorgeous, talented or capable as they are.
This is largely because plus size Kimmie Boubier (Rebel Wilson), though a successful employee at a law firm, run by down to earth English heir apparent to the family fortune Richard Royce (Kevin Bishop) with whom she is smitten, is someone who has suffered, along with her best friends mousy Helen Alice (Liza Lapira) and sporty Marika (Lauren Ash), at the hands of people like bitchy colleague Kendall Quinn (Kate Jenkinson).
All three have been unfairly held to arbitrary and discriminatory ideas about beauty and success and found wanting by a group no one appointed as judges, leaving them somewhat arrested in their social development.
Though hardly failures in life, they are chronically single, unable to believe they are attractive to the opposite sex, finding solace in their super fun Friday nights in, which rarely move beyond pizzas, videos and reading letters from their sponsor child aloud.
Despite all this, Kimmie remains irrepressibly upbeat, even if life sometimes calls for “consolation pizzas”, determined to bust out of her rut, dragging her friends reluctantly along with her, in the process remaking life in a manner befitting her lofty social ambitions.
And that is why I find the show so winningly appealing.
It’s about real, flawed people – you know pretty much everyone who’s ever walked the face of the earth save for the deluded aforementioned “beautiful people” – doing their best to make sense of their lives and not always succeeding.
It’s funny, it’s grounded, and eminently relatable, three attributes that I find appealing in any sitcom.
While the execution may not be the slickest on the block just yet, the scripts are funny and tight, the acting is top notch all around, and the show has real potential, as I noted, to become a very funny, socially observant sitcom that I suspect will do far better over the long term that it’s detractors will admit.