[2 October 2013]
In Super Fun Night, Kimmie Boubier (Rebel Wilson) lives with her two closest friends, Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash). Tormented by the popular girls as children, the three young women are now determined to break free of the insecurities that have plagued them. To do this, they have a simple plan: they’ll go out and have fun every weekend, whether they want to or not.
There’s no shortage of current quality sitcoms highlighting women, including 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Mindy Project, and, over on premium cable, Girls and Veep. For all their focus on women, though, these shows also feature men in prominent roles, playing friends or coworkers or, frequently, both. Super Fun Night is a rare show where all the main characters are women. It’s also determined to deliver on its title: the comedy here is not leavened by pathos and angst (as it is for, say, Lena Dunham). Refreshingly, Super Fun Night, though it can be poignant, is mainly just flat out funny, like a sitcom should be.
For this we can thank Wilson. For years well known in her native Australia, the exceptionally talented and abundantly charming Wilson has only recently found an international audience through supporting parts in movies like Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect. The co-executive producer and writer of Super Fun Night, she’s now created a perfect showcase for herself.
Kimmie is a junior lawyer who has just gotten a promotion at her firm. This seemingly cursory plot point provides her with both a love interest and a foil. Her move up the ladder puts her in closer proximity to a daffy British colleague, Richard (Kevin Bishop), whom she inexplicably doesn’t notice has eyes for her. That doesn’t mean she’s not interested in him, however, an interest that also puts her in the sights of her rival, Kendall (Kate Jenkinson), who hates to lose and would have been one of those popular girls in high school.
In the first episode, at least, the scenes showing Kimmie negotiating these competing forces at the office suggest why she might be seeking fun after hours. Indeed, the scenes in which she’s partying or planning to party with Helen-Alice and Marika offer more adventures to be had and more assured comic timing. The night out in the pilot has them performing at a piano bar. For Kimmie, this means a flashback to a previous competition, during which she passed out just as she was about to sing. With encouragement from her girls, Kimmie intends to overcome her lingering fear. No surprise, plans don’t quite work out: when Richard decides to join them, Kendall also comes along to try to steal the show.
Such predictable storytelling isn’t the only risk visible in the first episode of Super Fun Night. The three friends are all dangerously close to stereotypes. Marika is a butch tennis instructor, Helen-Alice is quiet and mousy, and Kimmie is “overweight”, these days a familiar type on big screens and small, owing primarily to Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson.
As in Pitch Perfect and Pain & Gain, here she uses her size to comic effect, such as when she engages in full-on battle with her Spanx on. Super Fun Night frames this and other physical gags with an obvious affection for Kimmie and her friends, taking the time to develop each into a three-dimensional, original-seeming human being, despite and because of the jokes that depend on her familiarity.
These jokes fly furiously during the first episode, and the delivery is impeccable all around. Viewers may need to DVR episodes to go back and rewatch moments they miss while laughing at the last gag. Wilson has imbued her new creation with charisma and wit. Based on this first night, we can guess that Kimmie and her friends—and the rest of us—will continue to have fun.