Watching this show, I couldn’t help but think of my second-favorite clip from Friends:
Lisa Kudrow’s character in Web Therapy isn’t exactly Posh Phoebe, but she’s almost her. Fiona Wallis is a pretentious, snobby, self-centered bitch who makes each web therapy session she performs about her. It’s amazing to watch, especially given Kudrow’s lightning-fast improv skills. I have to admit, though, it’s not as hilarious as I want it to be.
I think the reason why I’m not laughing out loud at this show is because it’s too real. Fiona is this completely messed up person, speaking as a normal person would–I mean that in the sense that, because it’s improvised, there are uhs and ums and likes strewn about; Fiona herself is not normal–and so her personality is extremely hard to take. It’s almost frustrating to see this person’s life in little chunks, basically recorded for us, all while knowing that she herself will never watch it and figure out how screwed up she is. She’s also very one-dimensional until about midway through the season, when she finally gets the chance to assert her intelligence and talk back to a particularly sassy client.
I get the sense that this show improves with time, because the character gains dimensions and the story twists and turns. I also think that the quality of the show is dependent on the actors working with Kudrow. Dan Butakinsky, the co-creator (along with Don Roos) and one of the co-stars, is a darn good improviser, and while his character isn’t particularly interesting, his banter with Kudrow is fun to watch. It’s clear that they’re creative partners, and that they work well together. Alan Cumming’s guest spot is particularly bright, too, as he warms to Kudrow quickly and makes her character very comfortable on screen. Victor Garber and Courteney Cox, however, aren’t as quick on their feet as Kudrow. Though it’s exciting to see Garber as her husband, and Cox as her psychic, they’re just no match.
I think I’ll give the second season a shot in some time, and maybe also try out The Comeback, but I hope it’s so much more than this first season. Kudrow is so talented and likable, which maybe is part of the reason why it’s so hard to watch her play a cold-hearted shrew. I want her to have another outstanding role, to really prove to the world that she (and Matt LeBlanc) were the true talents of Friends. Maybe she already has and I’m a few seasons behind. Fingers crossed.