Thursday, October 23, 2014

NBC's "A to Z"

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern

Most people, in their right mind, would not willingly enter a relationship that is destined to end. That is exactly what Ben Queen challenges viewers to do with his new hit. A to Z carefully examines the romantic relationship of Andrew (Ben Feldmen) and Zelda (Cristin Milloti), who will date for exactly eight months, three weeks, five days, and one hour. This novel premise is oddly intriguing, even if it is an overt setup for failure.

The romantic comedy begins with Andrew and Zelda’s first encounter, or at least what they believed to be their first encounter. They later learn that they once attended the same concert. Wide-eyed optimistic Andrew hopelessly clings to that meeting as fate. He works at an online dating site and earnestly yearns for true love. He often sacrifices his pride to achieve it. Zelda, a lawyer, does not share those sentiments. Level headed and logical, she clings to the more tangible things in life. They balance each other out perfectly . . . so far . . . .

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Between How I Met Your Mother and A to Z, Milloti can do no wrong. Zelda offers the perfect alternative to the small yet typical and iconic role of the mother. She delivers the same amount of charm, but with a less whimsical and still affectionate personality. Almost automatically, she becomes the dream girl simply because of her lovable and genuine demeanor. But if she dies again, I am officially quitting television (editor’s note: HIMYM reference).

Mad Men’s Feldmen warms hearts with his enthusiastic, almost childish, views about love. He is a fragile little bird, and we don’t want to see him fall. His utter faith in humanity and romance, while na├»ve, is inspirational.  He is more than willing to embarrass himself, or appear obsessive, in order to find his soul mate. Likely, he’s seen as romantic and charming. I wonder how they would be perceived if the roles of Zelda and Andrew were reversed.

Supporting characters are slowly starting to have a positive impact on the show. Zelda’s best friend Stephanie (Lenora Crichlow) brings a more no nonsense attitude than even Zelda. She often calls Zelda out for participating in the pointless games of new relationships. Andrew’s best friend Stu (Henry Zebrowski) counters this through his encouragement of mind games and power plays.

Unfortunately, other small roles flop. Andrew’s boss Lydia (Christina Kirk) gives off wacky vibes with every conversation. It’s disappointing to see a female in power once again portrayed as a crazy, power hungry dictator.

With that small exception, this comprehensive account of a romance delivers a solid level of satisfaction throughout the entire duration of an episode. How will Andrew and Zelda end? Viewers cross their fingers for an engagement or marriage, but a breakup is a worrisome possibility. Either way, Queen meticulously delves into each and every stage of finding love. Silly games and authentic anxiety overwhelm Zelda and Andrew. Minute issues become heavy strains and love slowly breaks down walls one at a time.  A to Z is a pleasant spectacle that simply makes audiences feel good.


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